As the century was coming to an end, there was a lot of buzz about the Hollywood big budget remake of Godzilla. Well, South Korea decided to reboot their own monster and bring him into the new century as well. Now I had heard about this occurring and was actually curious about seeing it. My first encounter with this movie was actually catching the last 10 minutes or so on TV one day and my initial thoughts were, “What the hell is this?” I would eventually watch the whole movie when I picked it up on DVD but I have to say I was disappointed. See, much like the original Yongary, the original Korean version was not available for me to get, but this time it was not because the print was lost, but rather that it was never released on video in any market. So I am forced to watch the American version, which was released in the U.S. as Reptilian.
The plot: In Southeast Asia, an archaeological team is exploring some caverns but when one of the leaders, Dr. Hughes, gets separated from the group, the other leader, Dr. Campbell, refuses to go look for him, wanting to claim any finds for himself. As Dr. Hughes searches for the others, he finds several fossils including that of an alien being holding a strange gem, which shocks him and causes him to stumble and cry out. One of the team members hears him and wants to go looking for him but Campbell refuses, saying they are too close. He then sees a strange glowing rock and has the workers dig there but when the worker strikes the rock, an explosion occurs that kills all of the team members except for Campbell, who had ducked behind some rocks, and Hughes as he wasn’t there. Campbell steps out from the rocks and sees a rock with some hieroglyphs on it and starts laughing. Two years later, an alien mothership approaches the Earth, hiding behind the moon to avoid detection before launching several ships and destroying a satellite and space shuttle. Meanwhile, reporter Bud Black is sent to cover the story of Dr. Campbell’s latest discovery, a giant dinosaur fossil. Later that night, Dr. Hughes confronts Campbell’s assistant and niece Holly Davis but Campbell shows up and mocks Hughes for disappearing for the past 2 years. Hughes warns Campbell about his greed and tells him that they will all be in danger if Yonggary regains life. Some time later, the alien ships fire on the Earth, causing an electrical surge near the dig site that kills two workers. The next morning, Bud is taking some pictures of the accident but Campbell grabs his camera and destroys the film. He then tells the workers to get rid of the bodies and continue their work, offering them double their salary to continue. When Holly questions him, he speaks with her privately and despite her saying that it was the third “accident” in the last week, he refuses to let anything stop the dig and says she can leave if she doesn’t like it. Later that night, another worker is killed as the fossil begins to regrow it’s teeth and bones. Bud heard the scream and takes some pictures but Campbell again destroys the film, saying bad publicity won’t do either of them any good, then gets rid of the body but another body appears in the morning. Meanwhile, the U.S. military have detected the alien spaceship and General Murdock is placed in command of the situation. Back in Asia, Holly has left the dig site after Campbell’s refusal to investigate the deaths. She is approached by Hughes, who asks her to hear him out. He explains that there were more hieroglyphs in the cavern as well as the alien fossil and what he deciphered talked about how Yonggary would be brought back to life by a beam of light. When she asks why he didn’t tell the authorities, he tells her he was a “guest” of the U.S. government but they were more interested in the alien fossil than his warnings. Holly and Hughes head back to the dig site just as the fossil is completely unearthed and Campbell gloats in his believed supremacy. When the alien craft fires another beam at the site, it revives Yonggary, who attacks the site, killing Campbell and several workers, before being teleported away by the aliens. Meanwhile, the Murdock is told of the alien attack on the dig site and sends Captain Parker to investigate and he finds Hughes and Holly and begins questioning them before having Sgt. Archie take them back to their command center. Along the way, Hughes explains some more to Holly about what happened to him the last two years, and how NSIA (National Space Investigation Agency) had classified his information that he gave them so he chose to work on finishing decoding all of the hieroglyphs before trying to stop Campbell. Suddenly, Yonggary is teleported right in front of them and as they stop the jeep, they get out and observe Yonggary, with Hughes telling them not to make any sudden movement. When a fleet of helicopters attracts his attention, they quickly get away as the helicopters begin attacking Yonggary but have no success and he destroys several of them before being teleported away again. Back in the command center, Murdock is ranting about the situation when he is alerted to the arrival of Mr. Mills, a representative from NSIA, who says he had advanced knowledge of the alien craft, which angers Murdock when Mills says they knew about it months ago. Mills explains that a paleontologist had given them information of an alien civilization had visited the Earth over 200 million years ago but he stole sensitive data and disappeared. The aliens teleport Yonggary into the nearby city and Murdock and his team are able to get a visual of it before the aliens destroy the satellite. Archie enters the command center with Holly and Hughes and Mills says that Hughes is the paleontologist that was helping them. When Hughes tells Murdock that Mills chose to ignore his warnings and says he might be able to stop Yonggary if he can finish decoding the information on the disk he has, Mills tries to grab the disk but Archie stops him. As Murdock tries to coordinate an attack on Yonggary, Mills tries to leave but Murdock refuses to let him leave the building and has Archie escort him out of the command room. As a jet squadron begin attack Yonggary with no success, Murdock is informed that he has 5 hours to try to destroy Yonggary or else the President will authorize a nuke to be dropped. When Yonggary is teleported away again, Murdock organizes an evacuation of the city in case he returns, then tries to figure out what they should do next, deciding to activate an experimental T-Force squadron to attack Yongarry with jet packs if he returns. Meanwhile, Hughes and Holly manage to finish deciphering the rest of the hieroglyphs and realize that Yonggary is being controlled by the aliens by a diamond in it’s head but they are confused when it says that another beam of light will occur if the diamond is destroyed. Yonggary is teleported next to a nuclear plant and Parker leads the T Force to stop him. Hughes and Holly tell Murdock about the diamond and Parker is ordered to target it and when the aliens realize that they are targeting the diamond, they teleport him away. Back at the command center, Murdock has Mills brought back into the room and questions him about the diamond that Hughes had and he explains that it was essentially a non carbon material. Figuring out that they can track the teleport beam with infared, they follow the beam as Yonggary is teleported back to the city. Parker leads his team to attack Yonggary again but his jet pack is damaged by debris from an exploding building, forcing him to crash. As his team is getting destroyed, he orders them to fall back but one of his troops sacrifices himself to destroy the diamond before Yonggary can teleport away again. Parker attacks Yonggary but notices that he is acting different and stops as Yonggary appears non-aggressive. When some planes attack and accidentally hit a building, Yonggary stops it from falling on people and Hughes and Holly convince Murdock that Yonggary is on their side now and he calls off the attack. Murdock contacts the President and asks for more time, when their signals are suddenly jammed. They discover that Mills is jamming them, as he wants Yonggary dead for his own reasons but they are able to stop Mills and regain communications. They discover that the aliens have sent another monster named Cyker to fight Yonggary and the two monsters fight, with Yonggary seemingly killing it when he rips off it’s head. When Cyker continues fighting, Yonggary blows a fireball down it’s open neck, causing him to explode. Hughes and Holly cheer that Cyker is destroyed but Murdock warns them that it isn’t over yet, as they rush to stop the nuke from being dropped on the city, stopping it at the last second. With Cyker killed, the aliens choose to leave, saying they need to escape before Yonggary discovers his true powers while on Earth, Yonggary is transported to a deserted island to live.
This is honestly a truly disappointing movie to watch. The acting was honestly bad, with several characters going completely over the top with their delivery. Bruce Cornwell (Mills) and Richard Livingston (Campbell) were honestly the only two that gave any sort of emotion with their performances that helped make their characters more memorable; with Campbell coming across as a real egotistical asshole while Mills came across as a true, weaselly, self-serving government stooge. The story honestly felt kind of disjointed in what they were going for. I mean, I actually thought the idea of aliens bringing the Yonggary fossil back to life to destroy the world was kind of a neat idea, but the pacing of the movie and the various cutaways just made it difficult to really follow. The special effects were honestly just terrible. Instead of suitimation, they decided to make the monsters both CGI but while the creature designs looked good, the creatures looked soo fake when they were in the cities or fighting each other. It honestly made the movie look extremely cheap, which is a knock against it as it was apparently the most expensive South Korean film produced at the time. A let down of a movie and a sad way to more or less kill a franchise.
Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5