Movie Review: King Kong versus Godzilla

(Kingu Kongu tai Gojira)

Urban legend declares that Kong wins in the American version and Gojira in Japan’s. This is false, but different versions did play the west and east sides. We hear Kong’s, but not Godzilla’s, triumphant cry as the pair topples off the cliff and into their next movies (Godzilla vs Mothra aka Godzilla vs the Thing and King Kong Escapes) in the American release. The western version also features some re-editing and new sequences. It emphasizes the conflict between Kong’s sophisticated mammal brain and Godzilla’s primal reptilian one: a characterization true of the original Godzilla, but not the later lizard superhero.

This review (Bureau article #3000!) ends our Kong Kountdown. The much-anticipated remake opens tomorrow.

Directed by Ishirô Honda.
Written by Shinichi Sekizawa et al. American segments written by Bruce Howard and Paul Mason

Tadao Takashima as Osamu Sakurai
Kenji Sahara as Kazuo Fajita
Yu Fujiki as Kinsaburo Furue
Ichirô Arishima as Tako
Michael Keith as Eric Carter
Shoichi Hirose as King Kong
Haruo Nakajima and
Katsumi Tezuka as Godzilla


Godzilla awakes, and some explorers discover a version of Kong somewhere in the notorious “Remote” island chain. The creatures fight, causing significant property damage in the process.

High Point:

The concept of pitting national monsters against each other rocks, even if Godzilla had to be dumbed down and Kong sized up to make the brawl work.

As with most Toho productions, this film boasts impressive model cities. Even when the film resembles a battle royal between rival high school mascots, the battlegrounds are a visual treat.

Low Points

The Kong costume is awful. Even in 1962, it must have been possible to create a more convincing and less ugly gorilla suit.

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6. Big honkin’ monsters meet and fight. However, each is an iconic monster of a different nation, and that was a new concept.

Effects: 3/6. Uneven. The film boasts some fine model sets, but questionable costumes and at times laughable model planes and military vehicles.

Story: 3/6. This is a bit of a mess, but it matters very little. It’s about monsters battling it out while crowds flee.

Acting: 4/6. It’s often difficult to assess dubbed acting. The human performers appear to be doing a passable job. The guys in the ape and lizard suits put in better performances than anyone currently in the WWE.

Production: 4/6

Emotional Response: 3/6 It’s not a great film, but it’s a fun film.

Overall: 4/6.King Kong versus Godzilla is a premise in search of a movie, but it’s a must-see if you’re into kaiju, and moderately entertaining.

In total, King Kong vs Godzilla receives 23/42