Big Octopus (2020) [REVIEW] | #giantmonstermarch

Ah yes, the forgotten Splatoon lore of kids now, squids now, and chinese movie makers bootlegging the Squid’s sworn enemies for feature length b-movies.

Or something about Octaman’s mom.

For one i can’t deny mainland China’s output of these monster movies it’s quite abundant, so i really could have chosen from the many of these “killer animals/mutated animals” that can be found online, but i picked this one, going by the international title of Big Octopus, because the name it’s so to the point, it’s good to see some takodachi representation and octopi are now a lot less represented, unless it’s a Lovecraft (or Lovecraft inspired) adaptation of sorts.

Or Splatoon, once again.

Directed by Frank Xiang, Big Octopus (original title Dà zhangyù) is about the owner of a small restaurant that one day, while fishing, catches up a oddly cute small octopus, and he soon caught up in a conspirancy involving secret labs where science moguls breed mutant creatures, mercenaries hired by them to recover the baby octopus, and worse, the mother octopus rampaging when she learns that her baby has been stolen and someone heard Eiji Tsuburaya’s ghost was passing by.

It sounds very typical of genre, and check all the boxes of the chinese monster movie too, especially with the mutant angle and the ruthless, sharply dressed, super evil science mogul, so of course there’s also “scientist lady” and “fat comic relief”, alongside the mercs dressed like characters from Contra, all the shizzle. And the “usual” backstory of the science mogul involving his grandpa being forced to partecipate in genetic experiments by the Nazis inside a secret bunker during WWII.

You know, that old chestnut.

Despite the first impressions, characterization is above average (except for the american actor that’s really there to play the evil foreign, english speaking captain of the mercs), acting is decent, there’s a satisfying amount of gore, and the plots it’s not quite as predictable as you would expect, the baby octopus is cute enough (very “bootleg anime-ish” in design) and it done in okayish CG, sure it’s better than the overly abundant CG tentacles that show on screen, it just seems these chinese monster movies can’t get the CG for the creatures just right, despite having high production values.

It’s a decent one, makes one mistake though, and one that can’t be overlooked: you don’t get to see much of the monster. And not in a way that plays it mysteriously, more like you barely see the thing clearly aside a couple of shots, this is a monster movie, you eventually have to show the frigging monster, unless you have a reason of sorts that ties into a stylistical choice or gimmick, something, and this isn’t the case, heck, you get a decent look at the big octopus itself at the end of the title sequence, so yeah….

It’s a shame, too, because the design of the creature IS what the poster promises, a 4 eyed mutant octopus, but it almost doesn’t matter because you can blink and miss the couple of full body appearances of the thing, feels counterintuitive in what it’s NOT a subversive take on the monster movie formula by any meaning, so much it feels more like some scenes of the monster rampaging were cut altogether, for whatever reason.

So strange to see a monster movie that otherwise it’s above average miss the money shot aspect…. of being literally about a monster, often a giant one.

Even so, Big Octopus is decisively a decent fun time monster flick from mainland China, worth checking it out if curious since it’s also short (below 90 minutes, as many other chinese monster or b-movies tend to be), and you can watch it for free on Youtube via YOUKU’s movie channel with subs in english and other languages.

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