MikadroidThis 1991 Japanese thriller, whose plot is neatly summed up by its subtitle, has amassed a minor cult following, even though it isn’t all that good.  It was produced by Toho Studios for the Japanese video market. That’s evident in the cheesy photography and low budget special effects. Beyond that there’s not a whole to say about this film, outside the fact that it’s attained a following due to Video Search of Miami founder/Asian Cult Cinema editor Thomas Weisser, who for some reason promoted it incessantly, and that it features the filmmaker Kiyoshi Kurosawa (of CURE, SEANCE and PULSE) in a small role.

Underneath Tokyo’s popular Disco Club Layla is an abandoned laboratory where back in WWII a heavily armored android soldier was created from an athlete’s body by the Japanese military. The “Mikadroid” is still in the laboratory, and late one night springs back to life after decades of inactivity. This is bad news for those unfortunate folks afoot in the club’s underground parking lot; they include a bimbo who’s slashed to death by the Mikadroid and a skate-boarder machine gunned in mid-skate.

A young woman and her mate manage to elude the Mikadroid, who pursues them through an underground labyrinth. Also afoot in the area are two athletes who were part of the WWII experiments, and are now looking to take down their android colleague. This will be tough, as in addition to the arsenal of weaponry the Mikadroid possesses, the thing also has spikes that emerge from its back and entrap people—including its former colleagues!

This film has a certain rotgut charm. In my view it’s impossible for any movie subtitled ROBOKILL BENEATH DISCO CLUB LAYLA to be completely uncompelling. There’s some diverting violence, notably the early slashing of a young woman that spins her around and around in a literal dance macabre. With more scenes like this one the film could have ended up a goofy exploitation classic in the mold of LADY TERMINATOR. Alas, it’s not.

The proceedings are staunchly action oriented, yet excessively ponderous and slow moving. This seems due in large part to a lack of content; even though the running time is only 73 minutes (at least five of which are taken up with credits), there’s a lot of evident padding. A making-of segment on the 2006 DVD release reveals that the filmmakers had a lot of promising ideas that for various reasons didn’t end up in the finished film. It seems the only idea that really did make it through was that of a bunch of people chased around by a murderous android…and that’s been done before!

Vital Statistics

Toho/TFC/Tsuburaya Eizo

Director: Tomoo Haraguchi
Producer: Akira Tsubaraya
Screenplay: Tomo’o Haraguchi
Cinematography: Yousuke Mamiya
Cast: Yoriko Doguchi, Yuki Yoshida, Hiroshi Atsumi, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Sandayuu Dokumamushi, Kenji Hayami, “Little Man” Machan, Leo Morimoto, Masako Takeda