image, drunkenfist.com clamp rayearthx 1999I watched a screening copy of this one. Because of that, for the entire length of the film a message is displayed across the bottom of the letterbox:

"for screening purposes only"

It could easily have read, "for bugout purposes only" because that pretty much describes the film. Most of the film — and when I say most of the film, I mean about 75% of the entire running length — is super-powered, Tokyo destroying, energy bolt blasting insanity. Even scenes that simply move the plot along are framed in such a way (e.g., there are a few choice dream sequences) as to make you wonder about how common flashbacks really are. Directed by Rintaro (not to be confused with Kintaro, the second to last character in the one-player version of Mortal Kombat II), X is a furiously paced, visually exhilarating ride through a mystical doomsday scenario, a battle between two sects with wildly different ideals to decide the fate of the human race.

It goes a little something like this (and only a little something, the plot is actually far more intricate) the Dragons of Heaven (who are somehow connected to the stars of the big dipper-don’t ask, I’m not really sure what was going on there) are the guardians of the human race. They are the keepers of seven Energy shields that are, conveniently, centered around Tokyo landmarks. These energy shields help protect the city from, for a notable example, the mystical forces employed by The Dragons of the Earth. A fascinating little band that’ve taken it upon themselves to save Mother Earth by wiping out a certain species that has a penchant for pollution, wars and other nasty stuff. In case you’re a little slow on the uptake, that species would be us. In the middle of all of this is a young man named Kamui (oddly enough, director Rintaro did a film in 1985 called Dagger of Kamui (Kamui No Ken.) No relation.) who aside from having an uncanny ability to not believe anything he sees or hears (you’ll stare in wonder at the number of times he says things like "how can that be?!?"), also manages to live up to the meaning of his name, "Power of God." Kamui is destined to be the deciding factor in this battle to decide the fate of the world.

The best part of all of this may be the fact that this is story is set up quite nicely in the first half hour or so and pretty much the rest of the film is devoted to the mind boggling battle between good and evil. Switching locations and hopping from dream sequence to rooftop fight scene with positively dizzying speed, I’d estimate that at least the final two reels (about 40 minutes) are almost exclusively devoted to eye candy.

Good stuff.

Okay, it’s got faults. Sure. For example, some of the characterizations are paper-thin. Most of the supporting players, pretty much show up, announce who they are then die in the next scene in a glass shattering, city block leveling, explosion. But, if you read the previous sentence carefully, you’ll see where this isn’t much of a problem. Here’s a hint: the key part of the sentence starts with "glass shattering." and ends with "explosion."

That smooths the way pretty well tell you.

Well worth your time.

I honestly have no idea when I wrote this. It was in the 1990s. I believe it only ever appeared on DrunkenFist.com or its precursor site.