Yonggary (Hangul: 용가리; RR: Yonggari) is a 1999 South Korean science fiction monster film directed by Shim Hyung-rae and is a reimagining of the character Yonggary, originating from the 1967 film Yongary: Monster from the Deep. Despite being a South Korean production, the film's principal cast consists of Western actors such as Harrison Young, Donna Phillipson, Richard B. Livingston, Briant Wells, Brad Sergi, Dan Cashman, and Bruce Cornwell.
Yonggary was released in South Korea on July 17, 1999 and was later re-released with an altered plot and updated special effects on January 20, 2001 as Yonggary: 2001 Upgrade Edition. The 2001 version was distributed in North America as Reptilian. The film was considered the most expensive South Korean film produced at the time of its release.
Holly confronts Campbell about the mysterious deaths and quits after Campbell refuses to launch an investigation. Dr. Hughes manages to find Holly and reveals to her about the legend of Yonggary, the alien fossil, additional hieroglyphics, and that he has been held by the US government as a "guest" for the last two years. She dismisses his claims at first but comes around after he shows her classified data concerning the alien fossil.
They return to the dig site to stop Campbell but arrive too late when the alien ship sends one final beam that fully resurrects Yonggary, killing Campbell in the process. The alien ship dematerializes Yonggary and Holly and Dr. Hughes are taken into custody by Parker. Yonggary is then teleported right before them and manage to escape before a helicopter squadron engage Yonggary in battle, only to be defeated. The National Space Investigation Agency (NSIA) sends Stanley Mills to share information regarding the aliens with General Murdock and General Howell.
Mills explains that a paleontologist provided the NSIA with scientific evidence that an alien civilization visited the Earth 200 million years ago and that vital information in defeated the aliens was stolen. Mills vouches in capturing the aliens alive but General Howell wishes to destroy the aliens instead. Yonggary is then teleported to a city and proceeds to go on a rampage.
Dr. Hughes and Holly arrive at the UNDA base, only to be confronted by Mills, who reveals that Dr. Hughes was the paleontologist who shared his discoveries with the NSIA and later stole information from their lab. Dr. Hughes counters that he told the NSIA that the hieroglyphics were a warning and they chose to ignore them. Mills attempts to take the stolen data disc back from Dr. Hughes but fails and attempts to leave but is forced to stay by General Murdock.
As the UNDA continues fighting Yonggary, the President tells General Murdock that he will give them five hours to destroy Yonggary or a nuclear bomb will be dropped on the monster. Looking at all their limited options, General Murdock orders General Thomas to dispatch his experimental Project T Forces to attack Yonggary.
Dr. Hughes and Holly then decode the additional hieroglyphics and discover that the aliens are controlling Yonggary through a diamond shaped receptor on his forehead and that "another great light will be sent to do battle". As Parker and the T-Forces battle Yonggary, General Murdock is then told by the President that he has sent the bombers to nuke Yonggary, to the delight of Mills.
The T-Forces then manage to break the aliens’ control over Yonggary. Mills tries to convince General Murdock to destroy him but is ignored, which forces Mills to jam the UNDA's radars unless they let him leave, however, Mills fails and is then arrested. The aliens send a new monster, Cyker, to battle Yonggary. Cyker initially gets the upper hand but Yonggary emerges victorious in the end, forcing the aliens to flee. The Generals manage to successfully stop the bomber from dropping the nuke at the last minute and the following morning, the UNDA transports Yonggary from the city to a deserted island.
Suits were produced and used during filming but were replaced with CGI during post-production.In addition to receiving financial support from the Hyundai Capital Corp. and Korean Technology Finance Corp., the film received financial and technical support from the Korean federal government by allowing the filmmakers access to military bases, hardware, and locations such as the Historic War Museum in Seoul, a location where filming has never been permitted before. The film utilized 124 miniatures and the designers spent 6 months designing Yonggary. Sculptures of the monsters were made in 6 months which were then scanned to digital screens for 3D work. Suits were produced for the monsters but were replaced with Computer-generated imagery during post-production. The film was in production for 18 months and resulted in 45 minutes of computer graphics.
2001 Upgrade Edition
After the film's successful opening, the filmmakers decided to expand the film with additional CG effects, new sets, an expanded story and additional characters, and began reshooting in December 1999. This version would later be released in early 2001 as Yonggary: 2001 Upgrade Edition and as Reptilian for its North American home video release.
In 1998, a 2-minute preview titled "Yonggary 1998" was produced and shown at the Cannes Film Festival for potential international distributors, which generated interest from Warner Bros. and United International Pictures. Before entering production, the film already had prior sales of $2.72 million after signing nine contracts of copyrights with Germany, Poland, Thailand, Turkey, and others. Yonggary was given attention in magazines that were published during the festival.
Yonggary was released in South Korea on July 17, 1999. The film opened at the Korean Culture Center in Seoul, the first time a film premiered at the center, and sold 120,000 admissions on its opening day and one million admissions during its opening weekend. The film was released in 85 theaters in South Korea, the highest number for any movie released in South Korea at the time. The film was considered the most expensive South Korean film produced at the time of its release.
The film was later re-released on January 20, 2001 with updated special effects and an altered story as Yonggary: 2001 Upgrade Edition, however, the re-release was a critical and commercial flop.
The 2001 version was released on DVD by Columbia Tristar on August 21, 2001 as Reptilian, marking the film's only home video release to date. Colombia TriStar later released the film on VHS on March 5, 2002.
Chuck Arrington from DVD Talk gave the film a mixed review, criticizing the film's acting and dialogue, calling it "painful". But also wrote that the film was funny enough to merit renting it. StompTokyo.com gave the film a negative review, criticizing the film's poor quality special effects, calling it "cartoonish".