MASTER PLAN: convert people into sexless fishmen, as prep for underwater kingdom and so on. Described as a Saturday matinée treat, this has elements of a James Bond thriller combined with Japanese Sci-fi of the sixties. Indeed, this begins as a typical Bondian teaser on a submarine, with the Navy testing a new kind of torpedo. Although it's a Japanese production, most of the cast is Caucasian, with the notable exception of Sonny Chiba. He and cute blonde Peggy Neal play a couple of intrepid journalists who go scuba diving in the wrong area. They're scared off by a fishman, a poor cousin of "The Creature From the Black Lagoon," but lose the photographic evidence. Hence, being reporters, they go back and soon venture into the wrong caves, where there are now a lot of fishmen. It's all just a prelude to the reveal of an undersea installation (3,000 feet below!) headed by a mad scientist who has perfected the 'processed man' formula & procedure - the method by which people are turned into fish people (or, 'water cyborgs,' as the gloating mad doc calls them).
Most of this is harmless fun, with most of the actors, perhaps due to poor dubbing, seriously overacting; a lot of the dialog is shouted when they should be speaking in a normal manner. This is especially evident with the two navy commanders, who always seem way over excitable. The mad scientist is strictly out of the 'sneering, cackling school' of nutty villains. The actress Neal also tends to scream or whimper during most of her scenes. Of course, when we get to that eerie conversion process, which is demonstrated slowly to the reporters before they themselves are victimized by it, one can scarcely blame her. This is where it gets a little creepy, another example of the Japanese preoccupation with mutating the human body in film. The pace is a little slow in the first half, especially with all the underwater scenes, but there's lot of action towards the climax, with the Navy submarine attacking and all hell breaking loose as the fishmen go out of control. The FX are low budget and the fishmen suits are not very convincing. Chiba makes a pretty good leading man here, a full 8 years before his famous "Street Fighter" role, though don't expect the same fighting ability from him here. Hero:6 Villains:5 Femme:5 Henchmen:4 Fights:5 Stunts/Chases:5 Gadgets:5 Machines:6 Locations:5 Pace:5 overall:5.
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