Somewhere in the Third World, a secret platoon of brainwashed teenage soldiers under the supervision of the Pentagon systematically executes their mission, eliminating miscellaneous people - until one of them regains his conscience and goes berserk...
Years later, the ex-soldier poses as a student at a Japanese high school - until one of the other students reveals himself to be a suicide bomber, bearing the message, "Noah will be your death," as he detonates. So the hero of the story, Ominai Yu, and the secret organization known as Spriggan race to Turkey to find the fabled Ark of Noah, before those who would use it for evil purposes get there. Along the way, many red-shirts die, and many plot points are discarded in favor of flashy action sequences.
Hmmn. I had the distinct feeling throughout this flick that I'd seen it somewhere before. Was it the ultraviolent machine-gun action sequences? The angular, dirty character designs? The fact that some freaky kid in gray hair wanders about levitating things? Hey! Isn't this Akira?
Well, it might as well be, though instead of biker gangs, we now have paramilitary groups, and instead of "I am Tetsuo", it's "I am Ominai Yu." Even the psychedelic metaphysical bits are pure Akira. At least we've gone far enough in ten years that they're not screaming each other's names in place of actual dialogue, or otherwise I'd have turned off the VCR and hit "rewind" there and then.
However, that's hardly to say Spriggan is bad by any means. The action sequences are fast, fluid, and furious, especially some wonderfully choreographed scenes in the streets of Istanbul and later at the secret base at the foot of Mt. Ararat, where Noah's Ark lies. Though the action often stretches (and in the end exceeds) the bounds of reality, that's no worse than any Hollywood film we've seen.
The plot *did* try me at times, though they have obviously put forth at least some effort to remain coherent. Apparently, in the Spriggan reality, Noah's Ark actually *caused* the Great Flood, and it was created from alien technology to boot. This, of course, wouldn't sit well with the devout Christian who was insulted by the recent TV miniseries on the topic, but then, this movie wasn't exactly created for them.
After all Japanese animation is especially notorious for borrowing and tweaking foreign mythologies, Christianity included, for fun and profit. Nothing is sacred in the anime world. Haven't you seen Evangelion yet?
It's telling when this film made more sense in raw Japanese *before* the subtitles got put in. Yikes.
All in all, Spriggan is a fun watch for the action fan who wants his action in an actually recognizable setting. For example, the airliners at Istanbul's airport actually bear the livery of Turk Hava Yollari (Turkish Airlines). But beyond the veneer of "realism", Spriggan is just a *tad* too illogical in its plot and execution to be anywhere near believable. After all, we're supposed to believe that someone can hang by three fingers on a rope dangling from a moving V-22 Osprey rotorplane that just *happens* to be passing by, while carrying someone twice his size, AFTER surviving a mid-air explosion? Come on!
But if you can forgive that, or any Cliffhanger, so to speak, then this movie is for you.
Insidiously enjoyable, utterly brainless blockbuster fun - your typical summer movie fare. — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: LOTS of blood, though more bloody than gory. Remember Akira? This has much of the violence that did, though with more military deaths than the aforementioned movie. (The animators must've gotten a great deal on red paint, come to think of it.) Older teens and above would dig this, if they're action fans. The squeamish should probably stay away from it, though.
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, raw Japanese; R1 DVD
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Spriggan © 1998 Takashige Hiroshi / Minagawa Ryoji / Shogakukan / Bandai Visual / TBS / Toho
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