Kamen Rider (Masked Rider) - The First
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Takeshi Hongo, a man of extraordinarily keen intellect, has his promising future snuffed out by an evil secret society known as Shocker. They create experimental cyborgs in an attempt to take over the world. Eventually, Hongo is turned into a cyborg — Masked Rider 1 — but soon regains his self-awareness. Realizing that he is now controlled by evil, Hongo escapes. Shocker views Hongo as a traitor and dispatches a new, nearly identical cyborg — Masked Rider 2 — to destroy him. But they're too evenly matched and their duel ends in a draw. Growing impatient, Shocker sends two new cyborgs — Snake and Cobra — to kill them both. KAMEN RIDER THE FIRST is a new adaptation of the popular original manga created by Shotaro Ishinomori.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Upon getting it, I was disappointed, but not surprised, to find the supposed 2-disc set was, in fact, one DVD.
The special features are surprisingly well-put together, featuring the trailers (without subtitles), trailers for other projects from years back that the company that released this DVD has apparently acquired (as is frequently done with import releases), and, shockingly, a very in depth and detailed behind the scenes feature that I really enjoyed and that was actually subtitled.
The film itself has an acceptable subbing job, and I was pleased to find that there was no poor dubbing to suffer through, I suppose they finally ran out of monotoned voices to lazily read out lines.
Picture quality is a bit off, but that might be due to transfer stuff (though I don't know why, Japan uses NTSC too), subtitles are clear and easy to read, and the sound quality is excellent
Highly recommended for the Kamen Rider fan or even just someone who has been looking for a good piece of tokusatsu to show to a friend in the hopes of getting them interested too. This flick also makes a surprisingly good date movie, it has action and romance, some slow bits where you can easily get away with a bit of making out, as well as some unintentionally funny bits
NOT for kids though, there is totally a naked dude in part of this film, parents'll want to take a look at this before showing it to the kids. Also, parents'll want to figure out if their kid is really ready to read and watch a film at the same time.
What didn't work for me was the bland cast of pretty boys and girls (actually the boys are prettier) who seem to be pantomiming anime rather than acting as real humans. The original lead actor from the 70's, Hiroshi Fujioka, was certainly not naturalistic in his approach to the role of Takeshi Hongo either, but his dynamic presence was like watching a caged wild fire on screen. He was also very much an adult, as was his popular replacement, the always charismatic Hiroshi Miyauchi in the next series, Kamen Rider V3 from 1973. Speaking of Miyauchi, he has a tiny token cameo in this but it's so out of touch with the rest of the film that it just feels tacked on.
The point is that, the once exciting, flesh and blood leads who helped create characters we cared about have been replaced with an even younger crowd of sullen hipsters, so skinny that they barely fill out their Rider costumes! Again, I think this is more of an anime influence. However, style alone isn't enough because, like so many re-makes, this one lacks the true heart and soul of the original. It's a little darker and pushes a few tragic love plots but, essentially, it's a very old story which has already been retold in most of the Kamen Rider series (as well as countless other Japanese super hero stories, both live action and anime). In order for this material to still have a life it needs to breathe with real actors and dialogue that matters. Otherwise, lets just watch the old shows because they were already so fun and great!