Wednesday 8 June 2016

Movie REVIEW: Kamen Rider Drive Saga: Kamen Rider Chaser

Kamen Rider Drive Saga: Kamen Rider Chaser

With the success of both the Kamen Rider W Returns movies and the more recent Kamen Rider Gaim: Gaiden releases, Toei seem to have confirmed to both themselves that direct to DVD/Blu-ray V-cinema releases starring the shows' secondary and tertiary Riders are both popular and profitable. Just as current series Kamen Rider Ghost has jumped on this early with its The Legend of Hero Alain blu-ray bonus miniseries, previous show Kamen Rider Drive is refuses to stay down with a number of feature-length V-cinema entries. The first of these is Kamen Rider Drive Saga: Kamen Rider Chaser, naturally starring Chase - the prototype Roidmude whose appeared as both Proto-Drive and Mashin Chaser before joining Drive as Kamen Rider Chaser.

Chase goes shirtless
This film in a nutshell

When Roidmude 051, a face from Chase's past lives as both Proto-Drive and Mashin Chaser, returns and injures a girl named Hinako, Chase swears to look after her brother Hiroshi just as Kiriko and Gou care for each other. But Hiroshi is wary of Chase due to his inability to show emotion, leading the Roidmude to wish that he could become human and experience a full range of emotions. His quest leads him to the Angel, a Roidmude who has achieved ultimate evolution and is able to grant him this wish. 

However it isn't long before Chase discovers Angel's real plans to create a better world, a world that brings her into direct conflict with Heart and Brain. Unable to transform into his Kamen Rider form, Chase uses the Rhino Super Core to join his former allies once more and fight against Angel. Meanwhile the Special Investigations Team continue the case of Roidmude 051, leading them to cross paths with another Kamen Rider police officer.

Angels with reused costumes

With Chase’s story coming to an end with the Kamen Rider Drive series this movie does not act as a sequel, but instead a side story taking place somewhere between the Surprise Future movie and episode 41. The actual content of the story is fairly standalone, however it does feature some nice little call backs to events from both the series and movie. Naturally its ultimate purpose is to shine the spotlight properly on Chase, exploring how the character would be if he was given the same emotional range as everyone else. It’s a nice opportunity for actor Taiko Katono to expand his range a bit, even if latter half has him doing a rather silly sounding Christian Bale Batman impression throughout. The returning cast are also treated to some rather nice moments – particularly Heart and Brain, with the former continuing to prove himself as easily the best written character in the show. Angel makes a great one-shot villain but doesn’t really have a lot to offer outside of that, while the new human characters are quickly thrown to one side once the plot really starts going. The film isn’t really offering a whole lot of new stuff to the table which will leave a lasting impression, but uses the new to focus on and reinforce what made the Drive characters so great in the first place.

Kamen Rider Drive was always a series that wouldn't shy away from mixing emotional drama with over the top comedy, but Drive Saga: Kamen Rider Chaser seems to take this to a whole new extreme. The tone of the movie can only be best described as 'weird', veering off in a number of different directions and showing little restraint in any of them. This is a film where one minute you'll have the male lead and female villain take part in some symbolic strip scene, followed by Krim and Rinna cackling like lunatics at an eclipse. The final fight naturally culminates in Chase shedding the human emotions he longed for, visually depicted by him literally carving a circuit out of his chest and causing buckets of fake blood to come pouring out. It's like this film wants to push things due to its V-cinema status and have a bit more of an 'adult' edge to it, but doesn't want to stray too far away from the comedic side of things either. The end result is a film that is often to hard to take seriously from both ends of the spectrum.

Super Mashin Chaser
When in doubt, paint it gold and add spikes

But as nice as it can be to see your favourite Kamen Rider characters series again in a film that can break out of the confines of a series narrative, even that won't be completely free from Bandai's clutches. There might not be as many and it might not be as urgent, but there'll always been some sort of toy to sell - and new toys mean new forms! For this movie Mashin Chaser gets a fancy upgrade in the form of Super Mashin Chaser, proving that it WAS possible the original Mashin Chaser even more twisted and 'metal'. Whether the gold paint quite works in the place of the silver is up for debate, but it does nicely tie into both the story and Drive's ultimate Roidmude colourscheme. It's nothing especially new though, which is rather fitting since all the other 'new' costumes that appear are also rehashes of existing ones.However credit where it’s due the costume designers did a great job repurposing the Medic suit into new villain Angel, with the two only truly resembling each other on close inspection.

Kamen Rider Drive
Kamen Rider Cop Force

Finally of course there's the cameo appearance from Ryu Terui aka Kamen Rider Accel, an inclusion that feels a bit out of nowhere but at the same time makes perfect sense and is highly welcome. It's been a long time since we last properly checked in with Fuuto's own red police Rider and not all that much has changed - he still doesn't like being asked questions, but these days he has a child in tow. Ultimately Accel's inclusion in the film is mainly to give Shinnosuke and Gou something to do while Chase runs off on his own to be part of the main story, but for fans of Kamen Rider W this is definitely one of its biggest highlights. His scenes are also the source of its best (and most natural) comedy, with the characters' differing personalities providing some really memorable moments. Most importantly its great to see a connection between different shows outside of the annual crossover movies, giving the sense that all Kamen Riders are part of a connected world even with all the questions and continuity headaches that raises. 

Chase gets the ladies
What even is this film?

Kamen Rider Drive Saga: Kamen Rider Chaser is an odd film. It veers all over the place in terms of tone, and while the story does offer some nice character insights it doesn't really feel like it amounts to a whole lot. But at the end of the day did it really have to? From Chase’s perspective (for now) Drive’s story was resolved quite neatly, so at best this was always going to be a nice little extra to flesh him out a little more. Arguably the real action is going to come later this year when the Drive Saga: Kamen Rider Mach & Kamen Rider Heart film hits. Drive fans will undoubtedly get a kick out of seeing the cast again (as will Kamen Rider W fans) , but on the whole Kamen Rider Drive can (and has) done a whole lot better.


Anonymous said...

Yeah its a bit silly on the comedy side, but I really enjoy this movie a lot for the fight and drama scene

Unknown said...

anyone knows 2 girls from the last picture? I can't find anywhere...

Chengkeng said...

The two girls are from the kamen rider girls music group.....