North Korea’s demented dictator Kim Jong Il is dead. What better way to mark the passing of an animal who starved his own people, constantly threatened nuclear activity against other nations, had his secret police abduct countless people in the middle of the night and ran a barbaric prison system than by re- posting my review of that nutjob’s lone venture into the area of filmmaking. While Kim Jong Il and his buddy Hawkeye Pierce (rimshot) share cocktails in whatever hellish afterlife is shared by real- world wackos and fictional fools, let’s look once again at my 2010 review of Pulgasari, the only kaiju movie produced by a man who combined the insanity of Idi Amin with the paranoia of Josef Stalin.

PULGASARI (1985) – Category: Bad enough and with a classically weird premise but not fun-bad enough for my highest rating     North Korea’s thoroughly deranged dictator Kim Jong Il was responsible for this film and even gives himself a producer’s credit. It’s the least he could do for himself after having his underlings literally kidnap some South Korean  filmmakers  and  force them to  take part in this bizarre film venture. If you doubt me just use a search engine to find out about the making of this movie. He even made those unfortunate people rot in one of his prisons for four years before he finally got around to setting them to the task he had kidnapped them for in the first place.

It was all part of Krazy Kim’s desire to initiate North Korea’s entry into the kaiju film market. (Their previous attempt decades earlier resulted in the equally laughable film Yongary, Monster From The Deep ) That story would have made a much better movie than this one. Pulgasari (No, not Pao Gasol, Pulgasari. NBA fans will get it) is the title monster in Kim Jong Il’s attempt to imitate Godzilla and Gamera and other Japanese monsters. Since the story is set centuries ago it also has overtones of the lesser known Japanese monster movie series about Majin, the giant stone samurai who comes to life and kicks butt in feudal Japan. Majin  for some reason also shoots flame from between his legs. No, I’m not kidding.

Crotch-mounted flame throwers might have helped liven up Pulgasari, which is very boring in stretches because of the inane, heavy-handed, Kim Jong Il-aggrandizing message of the movie. Pulgasari starts life as a toy lovingly crafted by an elderly man who has been jailed by the local tyrannical feudal lord. This man dies due to ill-treatment by his captors and as everyone who’s ever seen an episode of Twilight Zone or Tales From The Crypt or any other anthology series could predict, the lovingly crafted toy comes to life to avenge its creator and save the down-trodden villagers he loved. The toy has a huge hunger for iron, and as he eats more and more of it he grows larger and larger until he is several stories tall and can go on a rampage to take on the brutal armies of the oppressive feudal lord. Like in the Majin movies, the time period means instead of lame miniatures of a  skyscraper- filled metropolis being defended by tanks and planes we have lame miniatures of a period town being defended by cannon. Have no fear, though, Pulgasari himself looks every inch the sweaty guy in a big rubber monster suit that Godzilla himself did in movies back then.

 Anyway, as the film ham-fistedly goes on to make clear, Pulgasari actually represents the “evil forces of capitalism” pretending to save “the people” from oppression only to go on to oppress them still further. This flick is as laughable with  its simple-minded left-wing message as the movie If Footmen Tire You What Will Horses Do? (qv) was with its simple-minded right-wing message. The monster requires more and more mineral sustenance from the villagers to keep its dictatorial reign going. Naturally, as you would expect, a heroic figure who hilariously is supposed to represent Kim Jong Il’s family in Kim’s fevered mind, arises to bring down the evil Pulgasari and be the true savior of “the people”. Nice revisionist myth- making by a crazed dictator to justify his family’s ongoing rape of the country they rule over. Everybody who loves laughing at bad  monster movies and pee-pee- ca-ca level political messages should see this movie.



Filed under Bad and weird movies


  1. Zar

    I never even hearsd of this and I’ve seen Soviet propaganda that depicts America as a hell hole in which the rich literally mock the poor in the streets. I can just Imagine Bill gates goign for a night on the town and instead of fine opera houses or the best resteraunts decides to go into allyways and mock poor people!

    But yeah may need to see this one.


    Hey, what can I say, I am a Reactionary.

  2. Woman

    I remember hearing about it a few years ago, and Hongkong and Chinese film makers laughing about it. Never bothered to see it though.

    It is curious though, I wonder what will happen next in North Korea? It will be interesting to be around and see!!!

    • I agree. I have no idea if the transition will be orderly or what.

      I love the fact that Hong Kong and other Chinese filmmakers were getting some Psychotronic entertainment from Pulgasari!

      • Woman

        There was some noise on some of the Chinese expat twitter fields. And this is the only conclusion that we’ve all come too. No matter what goes on… it is going to be interesting in Asia!!!!

  3. Zar

    interestign indeed. The Pundits and proffessional commentators have already offered contradictory sumations of the future. I am less optimistic abotu the ability of anuoen for prognosticaton, so I shall wait and see.

  4. I saw this on the news yesterday, and my sentiment was the same as yours. But then rumour has it that his son, who will apparently succeed him, is more evil and crueler than him :S
    Might not choose to watch this film (I think I’d struggle to find it anyway), but you’ve done a great job writing the review…

  5. Pingback: Kaiju krazy | Kimberlyanncol

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