Review: MASKED RIDER THE NEXT
It’s All or Nothing in the Updated Kamen Rider Adventure!
Author: Bob Johnson
Official Website: Masked Rider The Next
After successfully adapting the original Kamen Rider for older audiences with 2005’s MASKED RIDER THE FIRST (Kamen Raidaa Za Faasuto), Toei followed up with the next saga in the story of Kamen Rider, bringing Kamen Rider V3 into the mix with MASKED RIDER THE NEXT (Kamen Raidaa Za Nekusuto, 2007).
In this one, Chiharu Kazami (Erika Mori) is a Japanese pop-idol, but with a difference… her newest song is cursed! Anyone who listens to it dies shortly after. In a twisted take on today’s disposable pop stars, Shocker is behind the scheme, using plastic surgery and cyborg science to turn out Chiharu after Chiharu as each one burns out. However, the original Chiharu (or is it the ghost of the original?) has other plans.
Now wait a minute… isn’t this a Kamen Rider movie? So far it sounds like a Japanese horror film. Well, as it turns out Kamen Rider Takeshi Hongo (Masaya Kikawada) is teaching high school science to a class that is less than attentive. One student turns out to be one of Chiharu’s best friends and sets out to find Chiharu and unravel the mystery of what is happening, with Hongo close behind.
As they work their way through the clues to find Chiharu, they discover Chiharu’s brother, Shiro Kazami (Kazuki Katou). Kazami is also hooked up with Shocker, having been turned into the newest Rider, Kamen Rider V3 (version 3), leader of the “Shocker Riders” a group of Kamen Riders who set out to defeat Takeshi Hongo and turn all of humanity into cyborgs.
Carrying out Shocker’s plans are two cyborg creations, Scissors Jaguar and Chainsaw Lizard.
Throw into the mix Kamen Rider 2/Hayato Ichmonji (Hassei Takano) and you have the makings of a film that is heavy on action, a little too heavy on plot, but a whole lot of fun.
Mixing J-Pop, J-Horror and Kamen Rider works better than it sounds as if it should, but the marriage of the three genres is not without it’s problems. Balancing the elements a bit better would have helped. However, this is really just a small complaint.
The main part of Kamen Rider is the action and there is plenty of it here! The fights are carried out with more stunts and Hong Kong-like choreography than the previous film. In fact, you can pick out a few stunts that come right out of a Jackie Chan movie or two, but work fine within the fights here.
A standout in the movie is a motorcycle chase/fight that makes the one in GODZILLA: FINAL WARS look like it was filmed by a hack amateur!
Kamen Rider is chased on motorcycle by Kamen Rider V3 and the Shocker Riders. As they race across the countryside, we are presented with an array of motorcycle kicks, crashes, explosions and more. This takes the motorcycle battle in MASKED RIDER THE FIRST and elevates it to a new level!
The underlying horror element is carried out dutifully enough. Playing out like a RING or GRUDGE by the numbers plot line, it is what carries the film along from scene to scene and provides some nice character moments between Hongo and Kotomi Kikuma (the girl looking for Chiharu).
Shiro Kazami is the tragic, forced against his will victim of Shocker, who carries out his mission until his love for his sister Chiharu causes a change of heart and he teams up with Hongo and Ichimonji for the final battle against the Riders, the cyborgs and Chiharu herself.
The updated designs of the Riders are excellent and bring them a new look without abandoning the elements that made the designs stand out as classics of 1970s Japanese superhero TV series.
The movie itself is quite a departure for long-time Kamen Rider fans, but somewhat refreshing in attempting to try something new and a little different. It will remain to be seen if there is another sequel to these films and if they will continue to introduce updated versions of the original Riders such as X, Amazon and Stronger.
If you get a chance, check it out and enjoy the ride!
For more information on the film please see the earlier coverage here on SciFi Japan: