Weekend Pick: Daimajin
This epic fusion of gritty samurai drama and explosive kaiju set pieces is well worth revisiting.
Daimajin is a rare instance of a kaiju movie that isn’t driven by its titular monster, but has a compelling plot and characters that stand on their own merit and are heightened by its looming presence.
Taking notes from Kenji Mizoguchi’s masterpiece Sansho Dayu, the film focuses on injustice and cruelty in feudal Japan as a treacherous chamberlain murders a lord and enslaves his subjects.
But while the protagonist of Sansho takes inspiration from a figure of Kannon, Goddess of Mercy, the heroes of Daimajin instead find salvation in a vengeful stone golem who awakens to raise hell in the film’s killer kaiju finale.
Beautiful on-location shoots and a detailed production design offer an entirely different visual language to most monster pictures, and the visceral, violent special effects make Daimajin much darker than many of its peers.
It’s a great example of how a genre often dismissed as being one-note has a wealth of diverse stories available to those willing to search for them.