Pulgasari supposedly warns you about the evils of capitalism.
PULGASARI (Shin Sang-ok) Rating: NNN
I've got a real soft spot for Japanese kaiju movies - man-in-suit monster classics like Godzilla and Gamera, with their styrofoamy society-stomping special effects.
Pulgasari is a rare North Korean take on the genre and involves a Pokemon-like lizard doll that comes to life and grows to great heights when it eats metal - the blade of an evil warlord's sword, for example.
The creature befriends local villagers forced to turn their farm tools over to the army to be melted down and made into weapons. Of course, Pulgasari likes tasty weapons, leading it to fight shoulder-to-shoulder (and arm-in-arm, bizarrely) with the farmers against an army in a silly yet entertaining man-monster smackdown.
What makes Pulgasari interesting is that it was made in 1985 by South Korean director Shin Sang-ok, who was kidnapped on the orders of North Korean dictator and movie geek Kim Jong-Il so he could make propaganda films. (Pulgasari is supposed to be a warning about being overrun by capitalism and modern technology.)
The film even employs some of the special-effects technicians from Toho studios (maker of the Godzilla series), and Kenpachiro Satsuma, the man inside Godzilla's rubber suit, also plays Pulgasari.
Shin later escaped North Korea and eventually made his way to Hollywood, where he was responsible for some of those 3 Ninjas movies.
Screens Friday (January 30) as part of Visions Of The Workers Paradise! - The North Korean Film Series, at the Bloor.