Yonggary (1999 film)
Original poster to Reptilian / Yonggary
|Directed by||Shim Hyung-rae|
|Produced by||Shim Hyung-rae|
|Written by||Marty Poole
|Music by||Jo Sung-woo|
|Edited by||Steve Swersky|
Zero Nine Entertainment
|Release dates||July 17, 1999 (South Korea)|
|Running time||99 minutes|
- Not to be confused with the Danish monster film Reptilicus.
Yonggary (용가리 – Yonggari, released in the U.S. as Reptilian) is a 1999 South Korean Kaiju film. It is a contemporary reimagining of the original 1967 film Yonggary. The film was released in Korea in 1999 as Yonggary but released in the United States under the new title Reptilian in 2001. The film was met with generally unfavorable reviews. The film's acting, soundtrack, and CGI were the targets of such criticism. Though despite receiving a negative reception, the film did manage to gain a cult following over the years.
Inspired by the success of the Heisei era Godzilla and Gamera films in Japan, and Roland Emmerich's Godzilla remake, director Shim Hyung-rae envisioned his own monster film. Titled Yonggari in South Korea, internationally Yonggary, and in the US Reptilian. A remake in name only of Yongary (1967), Shim's film uses conventional computer-generated imagery effects, and an American cast to appeal to international markets.
An archaeological party explore some caverns underground. Dr. Campbell and Dr. Hughes are the two leaders of the archaeological expedition, and get separated. While Dr. Hughes finds an alien corpse with a fossilized diamond, Dr. Campbell finds hieroglyphics at the cost of the party except for Hughes and himself. Two years later, Campbell and his assistant Holly are digging up the bones of Yonggary, a gargantuan dinosaur 50 times the size of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Out of nowhere, people slowly are being killed around the site. While Holly is working, Dr. Hughes, who has been legally dead for 2 years, goes to Holly and tells her to stop the dig. Dr. Campbell comes into the tent and sends Dr. Hughes off. Holly quits the expedition when another "Accident" occurs. In the town bar, Dr. Hughes finds Holly and takes her back to her Hotel room to tell her why he thinks the bones of the Dinosaur, which he calls Yonggary, are going to bring the end of the world. After explaining, Holly and Hughes go to the site to stop Campbell but it is too late and Aliens resurrect Yonggary. After Yonggary's first appearance, the Army comes in and takes Holly and Campbell to an army base when Yonggary is dispatched by the aliens again. The army sends choppers after Yonggary, but he destroys them. Yonggary is then sent to the city (which was thought to be New York by fans, but is actually an all CGI Los Angeles near Korea Town) and does some damage, where some jets attack him. Then Yonggary is transported to a power plant where he is attacked by rocket pack soldiers. During the fight, Hughes and Holly find out that the diamond on Yonggary's forehead is the device giving the aliens control of Yonggary. Yonggary is transported back into the city, where the remainder of the soldiers destroy the diamond on his head. Enraged, the aliens send down their own monster, Cycor. Yonggary and Cycor battle, with Yonggary winning. The following morning, Yonggary went to sleep and sent to an uninhabited island where Yonggary can adjust to normal life and become a hero.
The new Yonggary
The new design of Yonggary is completely different from the creature in the 1967 film. He is taller, has three horns on his head, and a diamond on his forehead. It was placed there by the aliens to control Yonggary and use him to conquer Earth. When it was destroyed, they lost all control of Yonggary and he helped defeat the aliens. The original Yonggary had flamethrower breath and could shoot a laser beam from the horn on his snout. The new Yonggary shoots fireballs from his mouth and, according to the aliens at the end of the film, has powers yet to be discovered.
The film's publicity started in 1998. This was supposed to be the one movie to bring the Korean Film Market to international stature. In an article in Variety, it was stated that of the $6.1 million spent on the budget, $2.1 million was already earned through pre-sales at the Cannes and Mifeld film markets. Also, while American, Japanese, and some European territory's distribution of the film was pending, an interview with the film's Director of Photography, An-Hong Kim, confirmed that Germany, Poland, Turkey, Maylsia, Indonesia, Russia, China, Taiwan, and Latin America had also had agreements to distribute the movie. It was around this time that Sonokong made its 12 inch Walking Yonggary figure. In Korea, the CNN network regularly reported on the film.
The film was panned by critics, but sold 3 million tickets. Many audiences disliked the special effects. It was considered successful in Korea, comparable to Godzilla 2000's US release. The film was also released in Pakistan and was featured in the Cannes film festival. It did poorly on a global scale, but has since gained a cult following. Publicity, while largely ignored by the media, was big. Giant posters were hung outside Korean theaters and a parade was staged with a life size replica of Yonggary from the waist up. The toy company Songokong released more Yonggary figures including a SD Wind and Walk figure and a 12 inch vinyl figure. The SD Wind and Walk was the least produced of the figures and most of the 12 vinyl figures were shipped to Japan.
The film was re-released in 2001, with improved special effects and additional scenes. The re-release did not do well in the box office, possibly due to poor promotion. This version of the film was first shown at a Japanese film Festival in 2000, being retitled ARMAGGEDON BEAST: YONGARI, before its 2001 showing at the film's native country South Korea. When the film was shown in South Korea for a special showing on the 14th (6 days before its widespread release in South Korea), Hyung Rae Shim did introduce the film in person. Overall, when it was widespread released on Jan. 20th 2001, it only reached at highest, number 10 at the box office. Unlike the first version of the film, this 2001 Upgrade edition had barely any publicity. Among the scenes that are added to the "2001 Upgrade", the beginning scene with a team of archeologists entering the cave was an addition. Along with added scenes, an extra character "Mr. Mills", the original Korean score by Sung Woo Cho was replaced by a new ambient score by Chris Desmond. Overall, the original version of the film was tampered with by 60% to make YONGARI Millennium.
Although a box office success, Yonggary was not popular in South Korea due to the usage of American actors and weak storyline, and has not been released on DVD there, although there is a Korean subtitled VHS in which is out of print. In the United States, Japan and France, it can be purchased online and at some stores. It has also been broadcast on the Sci Fi Channel. All DVD and VHS versions of Yonggary are of the 2001 version and not the 1999 version. And all of the DVDs have special features. The Japanese release has a trailer, the French one has a trailer, file on Yonggary, and a documentary on eastern monsters. The American release, titled Replilian, has a modest amount of extras, including trailers for the 1998 Godzilla, Godzilla 2000, and the DVD release trailer. The US release also has production notes, a file on Yonggary, a photo gallery, and an option to see the film in English or French.
Overall, all releases of Yonggary are of the 2001 version. The 1999 version has not been released as of 2008.