In Thailand, Garuda is a half-human bird-god. It's also a new monster movie made and set in Thailand.
A prehistoric cave is found during the excavations for an extension to the Bangkok subway. Three scientists and a special services army squad investigate and discover the remains of a petrified forest. They encounter a fierce and fast creature living down there. The rather cocky soldiers soon discover that guns and grenades won't protect them.
Always curious to see how other countries (besides Japan) portray their big monsters, and attracted by the beautifully rendered poster art, I took a plunge and got Garuda on DVD. I soon realised it was not quite a Godzilla, more like a Yonggary.
Yonggary (2000, U.S. title Reptilian), was a South Korean movie trying to piggyback on the success of the American 1998 Godzilla with its own CGI giant monster. Like Garuda it had a relatively high budget for its country, but tried to appeal to an international market. Both films therefore used leading actors who would appeal more to western audiences.
This is partly the undoing of Garuda. Unfortunately, the weakest members of the cast appear to be the two leads, a goofy western-looking guy and a young Indian woman. The professor, the soldiers, even the comedy relief station master appear more professional. Considering that Asian movies are breaking through internationally, at the moment anyway, there's less risk in not having any westerners to identify with. To be fair, the leads are asked to do some pretty stupid scenes, like the one where the female scientist manages to stumble into the middle of a sea of trip-wires without setting any of them off.
The soldiers, who here specialise in 'killing gods,' are way too confident, and are portrayed as being ultra-cool, smoking like chimneys and wasting bullets like there's no tomorrow. One fancy fight routine is even enhanced with some belated slow-motion Matrix-style effects.