ASIAN FILM - Article
09:00 - 28th September 2013, by David West

Queen Of The Kaiju

As towering Kaiju rampage across the globe leaving a swathe of destruction in their wake, Mako Mori longs for the chance to prove she has what it takes to pilot a Jaeger - one of the fighting machines that are the last line of defence against the monstrous invaders.

Rinko Kikuchi snagged the demanding role of Mako to join Charlie Hunnam and Idris Elba in Guillermo del Toro's giant monsters versus giant robots blockbuster Pacific Rim. "Before shooting, I trained almost two months, like boot camp, lifting, running on the beach, martial arts, eating healthy food - I've never done this before. I hated it, but I had to do it," says the actress. "My trainer was really, really hard on me. One day he said, 'Run to the pole.' And I said, 'I can't see any pole on the beach.' And it's summertime in LA, so hot. He said, 'If you go there, you will see the pole.' That means it was so far away. So I almost cried to get to that pole. All of that is new to me, and it was hard, but I love Guillermo, I love his movie. And I knew how I lucky I was to get this role, so I just did it. I just had to get over it."

To control the Jaegers, two pilots take their places in the Conn-pod where their minds and memories are linked together so they share the strain between them. But Mako has memories best left undisturbed. "Her parents were killed by Kaiju in an attack, and that traumatized her," says Rinko. "So, she was fighting a monster and her own demons. She wanted to get revenge. It's really hard for her to fight because she has to share her memories with someone."

The Kaiju-eiga, or monster movie, is a genre with a long history in Japan dating back to the original Godzilla in 1954. "I grew up with a lot of monster movies, robot movies, since I was a kid," says Rinko. "I love anime movies, like Evangelion and Ghost in the Shell. In Japan, the superhero anime always has a little girl be with the hero. And now I got this role. It's kind of a dream come true."

Pacific Rim is out on DVD on 11 November.

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