Episode 63 – Garuda (2004)

or “(The Unexpected Vishnu of Ignorance)”

Featuring: Sornram “Dreamers” Theppitak , Sara “The Thai Thief” Legge , Dan “You’ll understand why he doesn’t have any other movie credits after this review” Fraser

Writer & Director: Monthon “I Miss U” Arayangkoon

Origin: Thailand

Review_____

“It’s not a normal animal… it’s a God!”

You know, kids, Uncle Anubis has been having a hard time recently. There are a few things going on that have been bringing down my mood as of late, both in my personal world and the world overall. Life’s been a bit of a buzzkill for me these last few months. My thoughts are generally a Junior Jumble and I’m feeling dyslexic as fuck. My brain is stuck on shuffle, but I hate all of the tracks playing. It’s frustrating. But, as Pearl once told Mike, “I find that in times of crisis, watching a skin-peelingly bad movie can truly help. To that end, I offer you the balm that is Soultaker.” And, since I don’t have Soultaker, Dr. Blackenstein has written me a prescription for Garuda.

But, this is a World Tour review after all, so before we get started with the movie, shake hands with Thailand! No, I didn’t mean literally. Damn it, just put your hand down.

Formerly known as Siam (Yul Brynner looked so badass in The King and I), Thailand is central of the Indochinese Penninsula, and bordered to the North by Mayanmar (not Mallomar) and Laos (not Gyaos). 95% of the nation is Buddhist, which will become a big deal once we get to the movie meat of this chicken curry. Speaking of food, Thailand held the World Record for longest line of washed plates with 10,488! That record was stolen from them by India less than a year later, though, when they upped the ante to 15,295. Fucking India can’t let anybody have anything. Pricks. Don’t worry, Thailand. You still hold the records for the world’s largest gold Buddha, largest crocodile farm, largest restaurant, tallest hotel, longest single-span suspension bridge, and largest Christmas log cake (hilarious since less than 1% of their population are Christian). Put that in your public streets and shit on it, India!

Thailand’s bestiary includes the world’s largest fish (the Whale Shark), smallest mammal (the Bumble Bat), longest snake (Reticulated Python), longest poisonous snake (King Cobra), largest living lizard (Monitor Lizard), a fish that can walk on land and climb trees (the Mudskipper), 10% of the entire world‘s bird population (!), the world’s hairiest child (Supatra Sasuphan), and is the birthplace of the legendarily conjoined brothers Eng & Chang (who had 22 kids between them!… not literally, of course) from which the term “Siamese twins” was coined!

On the darker side of things, the air pollution is so bad that traffic cops wear face masks and 20% of their law enforcement officers suffer some form of respiratory disease. Thailand’s also one of the 3 corners of the infamous “Golden Triangle” (along with Myanmar and Laos) that produces and traffics notorious amounts of heroin and opium to the rest of the world. Thailand was also the home of the first reported case of HIV/AIDS and has the most prevalently HIV infected citizenry in all of Asia. No surprise since its prostitution population is believed to number somewhere in the high six-figures. Whoring isn’t legal there, it’s just rarely prosecuted. Speaking of, Thailand is also the most notorious country in the world for child sex trafficking. A horrifying statistic that they probably leave out of the tourism brochures, but always reminds me of that “Kids in the Hall” skit where Dave Foley negotiates with child prostitute Bruce McCulloch while on vacation in, you guessed it, Thailand. It’s good to laugh about the hideous atrocities that go on in the world that you have absolutely no control over…

Oh, and stay away from Thailand’s “Full Moon Parties”. Just like the Charles Band production company after which they’re named (I’m presuming), things aren’t what they seem and you’ll end up regretting your involvement after. Only, you know, instead of losing 90 minutes of your life, it’ll be more like 9 years in a Thai prison. You don’t want to go to Thai prison. Ever seen Brokedown Palace? Me neither. I’ve heard Thai prison sucks though. And yes, they have one big prison, so shut up.

Alright, that’s enough of the nation that pinched this cinematic defecation. Let’s get down to business!

Considered Thailand’s first foray into the kaiju subgenre, Garuda takes its name from the giant humanoid bird people of Buddhist and Hindu mythology. Ancient enemy of the Naga (giant snakes), the top birdman was given the title “Garuda”, a deity in its own right that was also the whip upon which head honcho Vishnu rode. So, it’s a birdman who worked for Vishnu and is the topic of a feature you’d be better off remaining ignorant of, hence the alternate title for this episode. Get it? Think Michael Keaton. Still don’t get it? What do you mean you haven’t seen Birdman yet!? Meh. Neither have I. And now that I’ve explained the joke, it’s ruined. Blart. Anyway, Garuda is also the national and royal symbol of Thailand, not unlike how the bald eagle is a big deal national pride symbol of America. Their avian mascot could kill our avian mascot any day. We need a cooler winged mascot now. Like Batman. He could probably beat a Garuda. I mean, he kicks Man-Bat’s ass like once a year, right?

Our movie opens on a bit of background establishment, as a narrator tells us about the generally peaceful Garuda species. In ancient times, before the hairless apes of humanity moved in and started trashing the Earth, the biggest and meanest of the Garudas got pissed off about his small penis size and murdered and consumed the other members of its ecosystem with reckless abandon to overcompensate for his perceived shortcomings. Sick of their brother’s bullshit, the other fowl folks ganged up on the bully, kicked his ass, and trapped him in the roots of a giant tree that later sank into the Earth. They abandoned him amidst the landscape he had stained with the gore of his avian avarice, where he stayed for 80 millennia or so. Guess when he’s getting out. Go ahead. If you said “now”, reward yourself with an Abba-Zabba or a fifth of scotch or whatever you usually reward yourself with!

Here in the modern age (for us, it was 10 years ago), ambitious young archeologist Leena Jeanvier (Sara Legge, the Thai Jessica Alba) proposes that the Thai government allow her to pursue a dig and search for evidence of an evolutionary offshoot of birds whose existence she believes influenced the founders of Eastern religion to worship these as the Garuda. Her theory is that dinosaurs became birds became humanoid raptors much in the way that a string of ape DNA eventually gave way to early man. Stringy ape DNA. Ewww.

Leena’s s.o.l. though (and I don’t mean Satellite of Love), because the people of Thailand are incredibly religious to the point that anything science-y that might disprove something about their mythology is immediately denounced as heresy and shot down. As such, Lee’s request is refused and she’s ridiculed for being a “half-caste” foreigner. See, despite her mom being Thai (just like Tiger Woods!), her father was a French archaeologist, so we see from the start that Thailand is a racist, superstitious place that no one should ever go to ever. As if the grade school sex slaves weren’t bad enough!

The reason Leena’s so determined to research the possible Garudal evidence in the area is that she wants to continue her dear deceased dad Pierre’s work. 30 years prior, he discovered a full birdman skeleton in the grounds beneath Indian Kashmir (Bollywood rendition of the Led Zepplin song?) on the border of Pakistan! Too bad for him that he made said discovery mere moments before Pakistani soldiers bombed the crap out of his dig site. His friend and partner Rashid died pushing Dr. J from a (hilariously bad shaky cam) cave-in, and all the poor man’s Indiana Jones was able to recover from the remains was a single talon. While looking it over, he tells Rashid’s corpse, “At least you didn’t die in vain.” Too bad that he totally did die in vain, because when the doctor tried to bring his findings to the people of Thailand, much riot rage was thrown his way and his blasphemous findings were denounced by everyone. He became sick and died not long after, leaving the talon on a necklace for little Leena to keep with her always. And here she is, all grown up and adorable in that “almost too cute to masturbate to” way. Also, this being Thailand, she could be a ladyboy for all I know.

Side note: good on Thailand for being so forward thinking and accepting of its transgender people, but if I ever wind up within their borders, I’m keeping my dick to myself. I’m not one to say “Phucket, let’s Bangkok” anywhere really, but better safe than sorry. By which I mean waking up in a cheap hotel room with my wallet and/or kidneys missing and my phone full of pictures that make me question the sexuality I was pretty sure I’d established firmly post-college. I have a friend who didn’t realize she was a lesbian until she was 40 though, so it’s never too late to discover things about yourself!

Following her dismissal by the authorities, Leena’s uncle Wichai (Yani Tramod) promises to do what he can to sway opinion in her favor and get the project approved. Until then, she’s back to an excavation site in nearby Kalasin to do more research and teach kids about dinosaurs and stuff along with her co-worker Tim (Dan Fraser). Oh boy. Let me tell you a little about Tim before we go any further. For starters, these two aren’t dating. It’s not even a “Friend Zone” situation, as they’re both apparently cool with just being peers beyond a comment Tim makes later on about how “If you weren’t so boisterous, you’d be my girlfriend already”. Strange that they don’t date though, since he looks exactly like her father what with the short messy hair and glasses, and the whole “being an archeologist” thing. Maybe they’re just holding off until he’s positive she’s not a ladyboy and she’s sure he’s not gay?

The most important Tim characteristic possesses though are his goofy faces. He’s intended to be comic relief, what with his non-threatening flirtations and easy going demeanor in otherwise pants-wetting situations, but it’s his weird faces that make him stand out. Remember how sidekick cop Frank Washington in Samurai Cop was always yucking it up and mugging to the camera with over exaggerated faces like a party clown on Molly? Tim is Garuda‘s Frank Washington! While other people talk, he’s unable to just stand still and pay attention. He’s constantly looking back and forth and his face is trapped in improv actor “expression practice/warmup” mode! He’s okay as the resident chucklefuck minus the face thing, but…but…THE FACE THING! ARRRGH!

“2 months later”, Uncle ‘Chai calls Leen and slack jaw Tim to Bangkok (Dangerous?). An entire pop-up military operation (or “pop-mop” if you like) has been established around a dig site, populated by generic camo-ed army soldiers and led by a special ops government unit that brings to mind the S.T.A.R.S team from the original Resident Evil games. When we first see them, they’re all standing around in tough guy action poses, smoking cigarettes, proudly bearing their facial scars and unshaven faces while everything goes all slo-mo! Much like the rest of Asia, Thailand’s still playing catch up with American pop culture. Looks like they’re only up to 1992 in their “action movie hero tropes” department. KWIMV? (Know What I Mean, Vern?)

Being the guests of honor to this block party, ‘Chai introduces L&T to the group’s leader Tan (Sornram Theppitak). Tan exposes himself as yet another xenophobic bigot in a government appointed position, wasting no time referring to the pair as “just a foreigner and half-foreigner”. The way Leena reacts, I’m pretty sure Tan called them whatever the Thai ‘N’ word for outsiders is. Granted, the KKK is a horrible group of bigots over here, but at least they’re not holding office and running the army (openly)! Krispy H. Kreme!

Anyway, Tan begrudgingly does his job and escorts the pair underground. Seems the city’s expansion of their subway system resulted in the excavation of a skull that looks especially human, but especially bird-like! Oh and there’s a huge wall of stone that the drill mysteriously couldn’t penetrate. Actually, this was all uncovered back when the nerdly duo were last in town, so what the government spooks were doing the last eight weeks with it is anyone’s guess. Wachai tries to explain it, but he just stutters as if he was trying to improvise an answer on his own before Tan backstory blocks the proceedings and tells him to get to the point. Somebody probably spilled peanut sauce on that part of the script…of which I guess they only had the one copy…?

The nerd pair check the wall of rock out and guesstimate that it’s over 80,000 years old. They also determine that there’s a cave behind it (by putting their ears against it) and request that the National Geology Department be brought in to inspect it. Not a fan of wrapping this metaphorical mummy in any more bureaucratic red tape, Tan vetoes the suggestion and orders his demolitions guy Wit to blow it to shit! Inside of the stone cell they find the tree in which the Garuda bully was imprisoned. Speaking of incarceration, Tan has L&T detained when she goes on this weird tirade about how Uncle ‘Chai and these jackbooted thugs have stolen her father’s work and won’t allow her to investigate the cave. Kids, when a racist dickhole and his heavily armed, government sponsored militia are just looking for an excuse to turn your dome into paste and dump what’s left of you in the sewer, I would suggest you not antagonize them when they tell you to sit down and shut up. Can’t exactly change the world when your entire existence can be wiped from the face of this mudball in less time than it takes to upload a copy of I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle to YouTube.

That reminds me. Could someone do me a solid and upload a copy of I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle to YouTube? Groovy. I loaned my DVD to a friend who lost it in a house fire (that I set) and I wanted to revisit it.

Tim picks the lock to their holding pen with his excavating tools (because nobody bothered to frisk them before locking them up…) leaving the pair to escape, so they can try and catch some visual evidence of their findings in the cave with the video camera that their captors also didn’t confiscate. Nearby, while Wichai is scraping samples from the trees within the cave, he notices the comatose Garuda and starts praying for its forgiveness. Watching this from a monitoring room, Tan has a flashback to a prior mission with his task force where he lost a member who was too busy praying for mercy from their enemy instead of just shooting it in its big, stupid, computer generated face. Said enemy? A giant Naga snake monster! Cue the “Wait! Is this a sequel!?” moment of confusion before realizing that the ops this special ops team was assembled for is to fight monsters! Yes! Spoiler alert: in case you overlooked the big turd rating at the top of the review, this movie sucks. That being said, I’d still watch an entire series of movies based on the exploits of these mythological monster mashers, no matter how deep down the toilet their production values went.

Tan’s teammate Krai (Chalad Na Songkhla) snaps him out of the PTSD episode with a “get over it” and a stick of gum. Who needs Celexa™ when you’ve got Doublemint©?! Thailand – the nation of “walk it off” psychiatric therapy! Lee and Timmy too discover the sleeping giant, but are immediately rediscovered by their gun-toting oppressors. Tim tries to fend off their pursuers with a broken spotlight while Leena hoofs it outta there, but he only knocks over a grunt or two before getting his coconut cracked and being restrained again. This time he’s given a personal guard – a testosterone factory named Harn who wields a big-ass knife inscribed with some mystical whatchamacallit symbol. So he fights giant dangerous beasts with an oversized bowie? Well, that at least explains the game of Connect the Dots going with his numerous facial scars!

40 minutes in, we finally get our Birdman of Bangkok when a misplaced length of electrical cable gives ‘Rudy a Kong-sized hotfoot and revives the beast. Why is it that every time I zap coma patients with the magical sky fire they just die and/or go up in flames, but these accidental Frankensteins breathe life into a prehistoric anthropomorph with ease!? Maybe it’s because the creature’s entirely computer generated (from the dreggiest dregs of SyFy Original Movies Purgatory) and the power surge rebooted the seized up laptop it was running on? Regardless, GarGar’s back in business and pissed that nobody changed the shredded newspapers lining his cage. He takes his anger out on Uncle ‘Chai and a random extra in fatigues before moving on to further prey.

Tan and his men catch up with Leena, and the pair clash over opposing viewpoints, guaranteeing that these two will be working together (and likely staining some sheets together too) before long. Intelligence and faith will learn to co-exist, brains and brawn will be attracted to each other, foreigner and full-blood Thai will gain mutual respect, and the world will be a better place. Until then, our eponymous monster (“eponymonster”, perhaps?) picks up where he left off 80,000 years earlier and just kills every living thing in sight. Guess he didn’t “think about what he’d done” during that extended stay in Time Out, did he? Harn declares to Tim that their unit are “soldiers who kill Gods”, but I’d bank my collection of mint condition Movie Maniacs figures that this time they’re just going to be “soldiers who(m) the Gods kill”.

Shazam! If Tan was having survivor’s guilt before this, he’s gonna need shock treatment after all the underlings he’s bound to lose tonight! But not the weak cheese follow-up to The Rocky Horror Picture Show of the same name. The only thing watching Shock Treatment will cure is any respect you had for Richard O’Brien.

Tim’s escort tries to take on the ‘Ruda Boy cuchillo-a-gara (knife-to-claw) in one of the least intentionally guffaw inducing “actor vs. cgi monster” pieces of mortal-on-immortal combat ever filmed. As we’re less than sixty minutes into this two hour tour, you can probably hazard a decent guess on which participant of Thailand’s answer to the Peter Griffin & Giant Chicken feud walks away from this encounter. Hint: it’s not Agent for H.A.R.N… no Harn, no fowl! (Had to get those last puns in before moving on. (Forgiveness please!)

Leena rescues her would-be-beau from his confinement in a locker (and no doubt a litany of traumatic flashbacks to every day of his years in high school) and reveals her plan isn’t to stop Col. Sander’s worst nightmare (or wettest wet dream), but to help it escape to a life of freedom… in the skies over Asia… where it will probably be sucked into the engines of a Thai Airways jet mere moments after its ascension. Great plan. Despite his initial protests of “Are you crazy?!”, Tim changes stances faster than the Karate Kid (CRANE KICK!) and offers to help in any way he can. Because of course he does. The guy looks and acts like he hasn’t been laid since parochial school, and I don’t blame a single member of the female gender for it either. In fact, keep up the good work, ladies! Pity sex hurts more than it helps in the long run. Believe me, I know. My Evil Dead Bride gave me some when we first met. It’s been 16 years and she still can’t get rid of me!

While L&T formulate their plan to lure the feathered fiend out of the tunnels (i.e. scraping her talon necklace against a hard surface to create a noise that sounds like a Garuda mating call), Tan and his men steel their resolve by clutching their fallen comrades’ dog tags and vowing not to be pushed around by no bully Gods who think they’re better than us! In fact, he denounces it as even being a deity, instead calling it a “beast”, since no God would unjustly punish man the way this motherfucker’s doing. I guess this guy’s never actually read a religious text and just believes what he’s been told all his life. Tan also accuses their deceased allies as having “given up”, which is birdshit. With the exception of the one guy in his earlier flashback who opted for the power of prayer over the power of a full clip of armor-piercers, the rest of his crew fought to the death when their times came, so fuck you, boss man. Chip nothing, Tanner’s got stacks of Pringles on both shoulders.

The team sets a trap for the Heavy G, lining the floor of the cavern with grenades and trip wires. Leena wanders into the darkness, giving the group’s sniper an easy shot to take her out, but Tan tells his man to hold off. Once again his leadership skills shit the bed, as she wanders into the minefield and, through movie magic, manages to casually walk amidst them without tripping a single one. She must have Mr. Magoo’s mutant power of subconscious danger evasion. This goes on for what feels like an absurd amount of time before she finally fucks up this game of Thermite Twister and, just as she’s about to trigger one of the explosives, Tan intervenes, holding her in place while demolition man (John Spartan?!) Wit comes in to disarm it…after getting hyped up by taking a whiff of an unlit cigarette? What in the name of Kali’s g-string was that about?!

While this is going on, Garuda’s just watching from the ceiling with his piss colored beer goggles-vision, probably wondering to himself how such a stupid race of creatures managed to survive for so long. Determined to rectify this obvious evolutionary error, the beast strikes, launching a grenade wielding Wit pirouetting through the air at his sniper teammate, killing both upon the explosive’s detonation. Of which sniper guy makes zero effort to avoid, no doubt captivated by the majesty of his teammate’s trajectory. The spin that Garuda gives that man would bring a tear to any billiard master’s eye. Tears of laughter, because when faced with such madness, all you can do is laugh or go into complete gray matter meltdown. Between this moment and the knife fight sequence alone, you should be doing everything in your power to find a copy of this movie. It won’t be easy, but by Jupiter, it’ll be worth whatever pounds of flesh and sanity you’re forced to sacrifice in its name.

Tan manages to make his men’s deaths worthwhile when he gets Leena to safety before the rest of the bombs go off. He didn’t really need to worry though, because it seems Wit must’ve accidentally planted smoke grenades instead of frags, as they go off in big blossoms of fog rather than like the flaming blast that killed him mere seconds before. Blart. The chain reaction blows a hole in the cave that allows the river above to flood in, flushing out the tunnels and giving our remaining protagonists a new found sympathy for what their turds go through. Tim gives us an amazing slow-motion “HO-LY SHIIIIIT!” (which doesn’t make it onto the subtitle track of my copy) before turning tail like a reverse lemming, as Leena and Tan are swept away (still a better movie than the actual Swept Away) together and wash up in a water treatment plant. Or a sewage treatment plant. The former if they’re lucky. But given the way shit’s been going for them so far tonight, it’s probably the latter, no pun intended. Okay, pun intended.

Blaming the waifish little lady for his associates’ deaths (though I’d say they’re both at fault), Tan isn’t shy about putting on his best Billy Idol sneer, calling Leena a selfish atheist who can’t just let religious people live in happy ignorance (not exactly his words, I’m just doing some biased paraphrasing) and asks why she doesn’t just die and save everyone else the trouble. History’s most awkward first date continues as Lee turns on the water works (appropriate given where they are) and argues that she didn’t ask for these people to die, she lost people important to her too, all of her evidence was destroyed in the flood (and he’s probably happy about that), she’s just doing this because she wants to honor her dead father by redeeming his name, and finally pulls the “Why do you always blame me?!” trump card. Not to be confused with the Donald Trump card, which just blames Mexicans for everything. Leena doesn’t mention it, but it was also his bumble fucks who woke the friggin’ monster up in the first place!

Having been put in his place and completely overcome by Leena’s pity party, Tan makes a big deal about pulling a tiny fragment from a barely leaking scratch on the gal’s arm and giving her a strip of fabric from his sleeve to use as a bandage. Meanwhile, he’s got several gashes on his own arm that are bleeding like the proverbial stuck pig and covering his hands in his own blood, but let’s make sure her tiny wound is taken care of first!. Hell, it probably would have clotted up on its own just fine! But no, cue the cheesy romance music because these two are clearly sharing a manufactured moment. That’s how movies work. But when I offer my sleeve for a woman on the bus to blow her nose on, I’m a disgusting freak! Stupid fantasy worlds.

Oh, and having lost her jacket during their logless flume ride, Leena’s also now sporting a John McClane Special (bloodstained wife-beater) so she can look both hotter and fiercer. You know, like when Savini and Romero “Ellen Ripley-ed” Barbara in their sterile Night of the Living Dead re-hash.

They come across Tim, and the dingus third wheels himself back into the proceedings. This comedy of errors next turns into an error of comedy as the trio walk headlong into an intended joke break next, finding their way out of the tunnels to a subway platform being chaperoned by a clownshoes-looking security guard (played by some moderately successful Thai comedian, I’m sure) who talks to himself while also harassing teenagers, waving his walkie-talkie antenna at them like a long, skinny, black rubber dildo as they do teen things like make out in public and stand on the “do not cross this line” line. Yes Janet, life’s pretty cheap to that type!

Garuda comes in on the next train, kills Chubs, then gets into it with the three. Tan tries to bullet-fu it (watch the incredibly poor work done with the monster’s shadow now that he’s amidst lights!) but winds up knocked on his ass. Big Bird has an Alien 3 face-to-face with our heroine before a SWAT team swarms in and drive it off with tear gas. They pursue it back into the tunnels, but wind up slaughtered like the good little fodder they are. Garuda makes his grand re-entry soon after, emerging from beneath the street (and expanding his wings for the first time, which seem 20 times larger than they were when curled up on his back until now) to snatch an unsuspecting Tim. Serves him right, as the prick was munching some poor soldier’s abandoned McDonald’s Samurai Pork Burger (an actual sandwich I looked up to make that reference!) at said moment of snatchery. Now that he’s out of the picture, no one has to feel resentful toward Leena when she gets serious with the new sweet ‘T’ in her life either. A gory finish would’ve been better fan service though, given how long we were forced to sit through the big doofus’s antics, but I do at least take solace in knowing that he’s DEAD.

Since the rest of the action takes place above ground in the glowing splendor of the Banged Kok, let’s have a timeout for a trivia break! Thailand’s capital is the proud owner of the world’s longest place name. Yep, the capital city the rest of us know as Bangkok (did that once, hurt like a bitch) is just its stage name. It’s real name is Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit. Though it looks like two cats in heat had a fuck fight on the keyboard of your laptop, that orgy of vowels and consonants actually translates into: “City of Angels, Great City of Immortals, Magnificent City of the Nine Gems, Seat of the King, City of Royal Palaces, Home of Gods Incarnate, Erected by Visvakarman at Indra’s Behest”. I’ll take their word for it. Fuck’s sake, even if you just go by its acronym (CoAGCoIMCotNGSotKCoRPHoGIEbVaIB), the damn thing’s still half an alphabet longer than the longest city names in the US!

After yet another uproariously incompetent scene of half-assed (or even just one-third-assed) cgi work with Garuda flying around the city and pestering citizens, the beast finally settles for roosting atop a skyscraper. Hoping to kill the fiend once and for all, Tan proposes that Leena offer herself and her pendant up as bait to bring Gary into a trap. Once he’s out of the sky, he won’t be able to outrun their attacks (which sure didn’t seem to cause him many problems when he was in the confines of the subway tunnels!), and they can nail him with a rocket launcher…which would probably also kill Tan’s new girlfriend in the process, given that she’d be in the immediate blast radius, but let’s not argue semantics! If they think their game of “blow up the birdman” is going to go off as planned though, they’re in for a Garud-awakening. Yeah, I said it. So what? Wanna fight about it?

The guy wielding the rocket launcher, Tanong, gets all gun jumper and fires too soon, confident that he knows better than his team leader on how to kill legendary monsters. Turns out playing every Pokemon game to completion doesn’t make him an expert in monster extermination after all. Garuda just suckers the delayed heat-seeker (“HEATSEEKER!”) right into the building Tan and the other soldiers are stationed at, leading into YET ANOTHER HILARIOUSLY HORRID ROUND OF CGI! The floor lights up with numerous ignitions (including one BIG delayed reaction explosion from outside the building), resulting in a fireball that VAPORIZES every grunt soldier it touches! And when I say it was delayed, I speak no diggity: the fucking thing goes from being right on ‘Rudy’s tail to disappearing for FIFTEEN SECONDS while he’s hovering outside the windows of the building before finally reappearing to turn the place into an inferno! I counted the running time.

Severely pissed for having his intelligence insulted like that, Garuda stops by the building roof from which the missile was launched, and proceeds to keep the local funeral homes’ schedules well packed for the next few weeks. We don’t get to see any of it really happen though, as no deaths are shown and all we get to watch is a storm of bullets fired at the monster, all of which have zero effect. Speaking of zero effects, despite the rocket explosion’s incredibly destructive power to turn everyone near it into atoms, Tan escapes unharmed because his hero-of-the-movie badge gives him death exempt status. Used to be, the only two sure things in life were death and taxes. Then tax exemption became a thing and now, so is death exemption, provided you get to headline an action movie as the hero. Not that it worked out so well for Leon in The Professional… but then, that was more of a drama with action elements.

Also like a ’90s American action movie hero, Tan arrives just as Garuda’s about to make a mess of Leena. He spouts what’s guaranteed to be the next great hero catchphrase in “Hey! Die!”, then lays into Gary with a heavy machine gun. I know what you’re thinking: “But, Anubis! If Garuda wasn’t affected by bullets or shotgun shells or explosives or any of that stuff for the entire movie, why would Tan think this machine gun would work any better?!” Well kids, it’s because he’s a hero. And he’s fighting to save the “opposites attract” girl of his dreams. If her personality is strong enough to get him to look past his own bigotry and religious beliefs to fall in love with her and tear the sleeve off of his jacket to bandage a little scratch on her arm, then surely his bullets will fly with the intensity of his determination to save her behind them, thus ending their shared nightmare!

…And they do. Yep. Unlike all of the other guns in the movie (that must’ve been loaded with blanks or rubbers), Tan’s heavy machine gun swiss cheeses the creature’s big manly pecs, shreds one of its wings, and finally, following an extended sequence where he has to save Leena from falling off of the building (she matadored the monster over the edge using the talon necklace, the Garuda’s attraction to which is given no explanation), Big Man Tan puts a single shot between the beast’s eyes to send it tumbling to its final destination at the corner of Corpse Boulevard and Broadway. Just like King Kong. Except Kong was at least shot down by a small squadron of armed planes, not just one guy making an impossibly precise shot with a big unwieldy firearm created for quantity of rounds over quality of accuracy. Lucky for him ‘Rudy inexplicably pauses for a few moments, allowing Mr. T to shoot around Leena (who’s covering up a good half or more of her hero’s shot), with ONE-HAND, and from a sideways position so it’s not even sighted up in ANY WAY. And he even has SO MUCH confidence that the shot’s going to be perfect, that he defiantly shouts “Go get it in the next world!” before pulling the trigger!

This is the type of movie that doesn’t ask you to so much suspend your disbelief, but straight up lynch it. I can’t murder my common sense though! I’d miss it. Logical thinking is already rare enough as it is anymore, so I’d probably be violating the Endangered Species Act if I did. Upon completing Garuda (twice), I’m reminded of the Murray Head song “One Night in Bangkok”, only with some slight alterations:

One viewing of Garuda makes a hard man humble
– Not much between despair and ecstasy
Two viewings of Garuda and the tough guys tumble
– Can’t be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me

This movie is absolutely horrible. With even the most minute sliver of doubt. The cgi just burns holes into my soul. Garuda makes the creatures in “Hercules: the Legendary Journeys” look like Jurassic Park. Watching the monster jump around and the actors pretend they’re interacting with it (likely the old “tennis ball on a stick” method) is like staring at the sun. You know you shouldn’t, but you do it anyway to see how long you can hold out before that glowing smudge in your vision becomes permanent.

One thing I haven’t mentioned before now that drives me nuts about the movie is one of the same problems I had while watching 23:59: what’s with all the fucking English dialogue!? Tim’s character speaks fluent Thai, yet he and Leena break into English conversations for no reason! If they were trying to use it as a way to converse without Tan and his men knowing what they were saying, that’s fine. But they don’t. Even more annoying is when it happens in the opening scene, as the French Dr. Jeanvier and his Indian dig partner are speaking English to each other! For fuck’s sake, if you’re trying to market your movie to US audiences with shit like this and the numerous uses of American brands in your product placement spots (Pepsi shows up TWICE, including a plastic cup with the logo on it being thrown at Leena’s dad during a protest against him), you probably should’ve hired some competent FX people to make your titular terror look, you know, terrorizing rather than terrible. American audiences don’t settle for this garbage!

Having openly burned through all of the offerings this shit show has to give already, there’s no real point in going over all of its crimes against humanity again. I will say that it makes for perfect Riff Party material, though. Get friends and/or loved ones together, maybe imbibe a little of the mood enhancing substance of your choice (as a Death God, I literally get high on life), and watch as this clusterfuck falls so far below a zero that it comes back around to a ten like an overzealous kid on a swing. Laughter is the best medicine, so laugh. Laugh at the hard work these people want you to think they put into making it. Laugh so hard that any current cancerous cells leave your body, and all future cancers avoid you for fear of the raging uproarious tremors you will bury them with.

Garuda is so fucking awful and stupid, but it’s cinemasochistic fun. Fitting that it hit theaters on April Fools Day 2004, though I don’t think Thailand celebrates April Fools Day. Maybe? Who cares. It’s all a tangled cat-o-nine tails of ineptitude that hurts so good as it lashes across your back. To make it go down a little easier though, here’s a game to play with those aforementioned substances!

The Officially Official TheTombOfAnubis.Com Unofficial Drinking/Smoking Game: Garuda Edition!
Take a drink/hit during the following moments of the film:

  • every time Tim makes 3 or more different stupid facial expressions in a single shot
  • every scene with a slow motion sequence, TWO if the scene includes some manner of bullet time projectile
  • whenever someone cocks their gun without immediately firing it (i.e. just to look like a Cool Guy)
  • any time Leena holds up her talon necklace
  • once for every instance of American product logo placement (i.e. Pepsi, McDonald’s, etc)
  • every time someone points a gun’s laser sight at the camera

    That should be more than enough to get you rightly wasted within the first hour, but if you manage to get to the end credits without blacking out, take a moment to brag to me! Let me know what substance you used and how your experience played out and I’ll add your message(s) of triumph to the review for all to see!

    So there you have it: Garuda. The worst thing to come out of Thailand ever, if you don’t count the heroin, HIV, and child prostitution rings.

    Okay. I feel better now. Good therapy session. This website is a very complicated version of when people text pics of their bowl-busting brown anacondas to each other. It’s a more socially acceptable way of sharing my shameful experiences and physically destructive consequences with close friends and total strangers in a twisted display of pride. I hope you’ve taken some enjoyment from this bathroom snapshot of Garuda‘s digestively devastating results. Some people think I do myself more harm than good by shoving such raw plutonium straight up my nose, but it’s the kind of pain I gladly prefer to the crippling misery of the real world. Maybe one day I’ll find something better to do with my life. Something that’ll make people proud to share the VonMojo name. But for now, as AC/DC said, “One of these days I’m gonna change my evil ways. Until then, I’m just gonna ride on.”

    On that note, I’m aiming to Double Stuf two more episodes of The Tomb in by Halloween, but they’ll be a departure from the World Tour. I’ll be back on the road again in November, starting with India. Until then? Come and knock my door! I’ll be waiting for you! I’ve a lovely space (on my wall) that needs your face! Trick or treating with you!

    “Twins, Jack! TWINS!”

    Moral of the Story: Ancient mythological creatures that have laid dormant in the ground for 80 millennium have a surprisingly good understanding of modern military technology.

    Screenshots_____

    “Sweet! This’ll make for an epic bottle opener!”


    The special effects shartist’s computer every time he’d start working on Garuda.


    Featuring special guest appearances by Stand and Deliver Edward James Olmos! 1992 Shane McMahon! And Jessica Alba!


    Given the headphones and glasses, he’s clearly the team’s computer/tech expert. He probably reads manga in his spare time and gets nosebleeds when pretty girls are around too.


    “Oh yeah, I’m definitely overcompensating! When the ladies call me the ‘2 inch killer’, they’re not exaggerating!”


    Gah! Stop it! You’re gonna give the audience eyeball cancer if you keep doing that!


    That’s not water. Pepsi© paid Thailand for the dumping rights to dispose of their unsold Crystal Pepsi™ inventory there. That man’s face will be riddled with tumors in a manner of weeks.


    Tim is WAY too excited about being held at gunpoint here. I’d say he’s packing heat of his own, but the idea of Tim with an erection makes me nauseous and all I had to eat today was ghost pepper sauce and Crystal Pepsi™. I’d rather not melt my esophagus bringing all of that back up.


    “What an important archaeological discovery! This is clearly Frog Thor (yes, that’s a thing that happened)’s mythological hammer Mjolnir!”


    Leena catches sight of Garuda’s penis. She’s quite taken aback.


    And there’s Garuda’s penis now! Toldja it was shocking.


    And that, gentlemen, is why you don’t shave with a straight razor in the middle of an avalanche.


    Also featuring a special appearance by Burgess Meredith from the “Time Enough at Last” episode of “The Twilight Zone”!


    Stan’s wife knows how much her menstrual period upsets her husband, so she always pranks him by not telling him when she’s on it before initiating sex! He falls for it every time! Punk’d!


    Looks like someone forgot to put the bowl of green M&Ms™ and freezer bag full of cocaine in David Lee Roth’s dressing room before the concert…


    It’s an ancient mystical inscription that says “Made in China”.


    Why does Garuda look like a bad Photoshop of David Cassidy’s mugshots morphed with Big Bird?


    “I thought these would be so cool when I ordered them from Hot Topic. Why the Hell did I pay $86 for them!? Fuck. Maybe I can get a refund…”


    “It’s okay Tan, you really don’t need to fuss over me and ruin your shirt for this! It’s just a popped zit. It’ll be fine in a minute!”


    Guy Fieri impersonators are shot on sight in Bangkok! And for good reason! Do it! Do it! Do it! DO IT!


    “Hello, ‘Mom’s Old Fashioned Mothballs’ consumer complaints line? Yeah, I put my favorite shirt into storage with a full box of your product, and now my sleeve looks like swiss cheese!”


    “I really like your ‘Lady Die Hard’ costume, lady! Very sexy! Your cosplay game very pro!”


    It’s Batman! Oh wait, it’s just Garuda. Never mind. Nothing to see here, people.


    Knowing there’s no hope for a sequel to his own movie, Garuda prepares an audition reel in case Disney ever does a live-action “Gargoyles” movie.

    ———————————————————
    ———————————————————

    Anubis will return next time in
    “It’s Not Easy Having a Good Time”

    All materials found within this review are the intellectual properties and opinions of the original writer. The Tomb of Anubis claims no responsibility for the views expressed in this review, but we do lay a copyright claim on it beeyotch, so don’t steal from this shit or we’ll have to go all Farmer Vincent on your silly asses. © October 1st 2013 and beyond, not to be reproduced in any way without the express written consent of the reviewer and The Tomb of Anubis, or pain of a physical and legal nature will follow. Touch not lest ye be touched.

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