I think this is the first intentionally comedic disaster film I’ve reviewed for this site and it comes from the quite barmy Minoru Kawasaki whose collection (I own most of them) include Calamari Wrestler and Executive Koala. Kawasaki generally takes a very bizarre concept and then makes a terrible low-budget celebration of all that is strange. The acting is usually stilted, the cameras wonky and nothing quite makes sense. The same can certainly be said here but this time we’re in disaster territory.
Running Time: 98 mins
Everywhere in the world sinks leaving only Japan left to deal with the entire world landing on their doorstep.
The Disasters Faced
Apocalyptic earthquakes, tsunamis (off-screen) and low fi explosions (on-screen) followed by English actors trying to speak fluent Japanese and vice versa, homelessness, food crises and the disaster of foreign people just not being Japanese enough.
The World Sinks Except Japan is pitched as a send up of Nippon Chinbotsu which is a disaster movie from the 70’s where Japan sinks. That’s also been remade (and reviewed here too) but to be honest it only uses the concept, the rest of the film deals with how Americans, Europeans and Australians are then treated as secondary citizens as they just aren’t Japanese enough. Film stars end up homeless hookers, military Orwellian “you’re not equal” Animal Farm satire sets in behind the comedy and it’s pitched at such an awkwardly strange level that it’s part satire, part comedy, part slap stick and part drama. The first half hour is extremely slow in setting everyone up and then it’s the following hour where the film starts to excel with some great set pieces and even some poignant moments. Possibly the reason why people will love or hate it will be because it is all over the place in genre – this is the Jazz freestyle of foreign comedy disaster movies.
Camera shaking is an earthquake and there’s some very cheesy effects of various monuments collapsing. More fun is the way how continents just flash before they disappear into the ocean. Budget is not the films strong points and it openly mocks it.
Why It’s Worth Watching
You’ll be confused, notching up the WTF?!? moments that crop up and then there’s the absolutely astounding musical number in which the Japanese prime minister makes all the other country leaders sing a karaoke song called “Hail Japan” which looks like a scene from the TV show Banzai.
The drinking game is definitely each time the American’s are treated like dirt. It’s also worth noting how the American actors are really trying with their pronunciation. I wonder how well they did? I’m learning myself but am by no means a critic – get in touch if you’ve seen it!
The mad scientist is amazing but so is the pompous send up of Tom Cruise from Blake Crawford as Jerry Crusing. I do enjoy it when film stars get sent up far too well, especially from a country that prides itself on humility.
Now that would spoil it!
That musical note had me hit the rewind button to watch it again. Comedy gold.
The original short novel the film idea comes from is by Yasutaka Tsuitsu in 2002, and he also wrote the novel which formed the amazing anime “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” which has also now become a feature film.
Whilst trying to explain the skin of a peach is like the Earth’s crust our prof says “It’s the kind of thing a foreskin surgeon ought to think about”
Although it’s not Minoru Kawasaki’s best film, those of you whom want to venture off into some of the more bizarre depths of Japanese films, disaster movies or sheer enthusiasm over budget should hunt out “The World SInks Except Japan” as you could do so much worse.