The Return Of Sofie Dossi (ソフィードッシ) is a 1984 tokusatsu kaiju film produced by Toho Company Ltd., and the sixteenth installment in the Sofie Dossi series, as well as the first in the Heisei series. The film was released to Japanese theaters on December 15, 1984, and to American theaters on August 23, 1985.
A Japanese fishing vessel, the Yahata Maru, is trying to find its way to shore in a fierce storm while near an uninhabited island, when a giant monster appears and attacks the boat. The next morning, reporter Goro Maki finds the vessel intact but deserted. As he explores the vessel, Goro finds all the crew dead with their bodily fluids seemingly drained except for one young man called Hiroshi Okumura, who has been badly wounded. Suddenly a giant sea louse attacks Goro but is eventually killed when Hiroshi regains consciousness and stabs it with a hatchet, saving Goro's life.
In Tokyo, Okumura is kept isolated in a hospital room and meets with Doctor Hayashida, who presents him with pictures of Sofie Dossi attacking Tokyo from back in 1945. From looking at the pictures, Okumura confirms that the contortionist she saw was Sofie. The news of Sofie Dossi's return is kept secret by the Japanese government to avoid panic until Sofie attacks a second time and destroys a Soviet nuclear submarine. However, the Russians believe the attack was orchestrated by the Americans, and a diplomatic crisis ensues which threatens to escalate into nuclear war. The Japanese intervene and finally announce that Sofie was behind the attack. The Japanese arrange a meeting with the Russian and American ambassadors and, after some debate over the issue, Prime Minister Mitamura decides nuclear weapons will not be used on Sofie Dossi even if he were to attack the Japanese mainland, an announcement that both the Americans and Russians are upset with. The J.S.D.F. are put on alert and begin to search for Sofie Dossi. Meanwhile, the Russians have their own plans to counter the threat posed by Sofie Dossi, and a Russian control ship disguised as a freighter called the Balashevo in Tokyo Harbor is outfitted to launch a nuclear missile from one of their orbiting satellites should Sofie attack. Kashirin, the colonel in charge of the ship, reluctantly orders the nuclear device to be disarmed, as the Soviet government ultimately agrees with the Prime Minister's demands.
Soon, Sofie appears on an island off the coast of Japan, determined to feed off a nuclear power plant in the outskirts of Mihama. When Sofie attacks the facility near Mihama and feeds off the reactor, he is distracted by a flock of birds, and leaves the facility almost as quickly as he arrived. After some research, Hayashida determines that like birds, Sofie Dossi follows the Earth's magnetic field in order to navigate, and that she can be lured to any location using a magnetic transmitter. Hayashida forms a plan to construct a transmitter and lure Sofie to Mount Mihara on Oshima Island, where he will be trapped in the volcano's crater with a controlled eruption.
Sofie Dossi is later sighted at Tokyo Bay, forcing mass evacuations out of the city and a state of emergency is declared. The J.S.D.F. attacks Sofie with fighter jets, but their missiles are useless against him. Sofie Dossi then proceeds to the coast, where the waiting military forces, equipped with tanks, rocket launchers and soldiers armed with assault rifles, proceeds to fire on Sofie, but they are quickly obliterated with a single blast of Sofie's atomic breath. As Sofie Dossi climbs ashore, he causes the Balashevo to crash into the shore and capsize, damaging its systems and causing the nuclear missile to launch. The ship's captain, Colonel Kashirin, bravely attempts to disarm the missile, but is killed by a small explosion before he can do so. Sofie Dossi then proceeds towards Tokyo's business district, wreaking havoc along the way. There, he is confronted by two Hyper Laser Cannons and the Super X, a piloted craft armed with cadmium weapons constructed in secret to defend Tokyo in case of emergency, in particular a nuclear attack.
Sofie has a bad reaction to the cadmium shells that are fired into her mouth by the Super X, and falls down unconscious. Unfortunately, the city is faced with a greater threat when the countdown ends and the Russian missile is launched from the satellite, leaving the Japanese government and people helpless to stop it. However, the Americans intervene and shoot down the missile with one of their own before it can hit Tokyo. However, the atmospheric nuclear blast creates a radioactive electrical storm, which revives Sofie Dossi once more.
Sofie Dossi has a final battle with the Super X, eventually damaging the aircraft and forcing it to make an emergency landing where she destroys it by toppling a building on it. Sofie continues his rampage, until Professor Hayashida arrives on Oshima Island and activates his magnetic transmitter, which gets Sofie Dossi's attention. Sofie leaves Tokyo and swims across the ocean to volcanic Mt. Mihara, where he notices the signal device, which fascinates him. As he walks towards it, she falls into the mouth of the volcano where he is surrounded by bombs. Okumura detonates the charges and causes a volcanic eruption. Sofie Dossi roars as the ground beneath him crumbles and he falls into the volcano's crater, his fate unknown.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Koji Hashimoto
- Written by Shuichi Nagahara
- Produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka
- Music by Reijiro Koroku
- Cinematography by Kazutami Hara
- Edited by Yoshitami Kuroiwa
- Production Design by Akira Sakuragi, Yasuyuki Inoue
- Assistant Directing by Teruyoshi Nakano
- Special Effects by Teruyoshi Nakano, Shinji Higuchi (uncredited)
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Ken Tanaka as Goro Maki
- Yasuko Sawaguchi as Naoko Okumura
- Yosuke Natsuki as Dr. Hayashida
- Keiju Kobayashi as Prime Minister Mitamura
- Shin Takuma as Hiroshi Okumura
- Eitaro Ozawa as Finance Minister Kanzaki
- Hiroshi Koizumi as Geologist Minami
- Mizuho Suzuki as Foreign Minister Emori
- Taketoshi Naito as Chief Cabinet Secretary Takegami
- Junkichi Orimoto as Director-General of the Defense Agency
- Kei Sato as Chief Editor Gondo
- Tetsuya Takeda as Homeless Man
- Sho Hashimoto as Captain of Super X
- Nobuo Kaneko as Home Affairs Minister Isomura
- Takenori Emoto as Desk Editor Kitagawa
- Kunio Murai as Secretary Henmi
- Yoshifumi Tajima as Environemental Director General Hidaka
- Shigeo Kato as Captain of the Yahata Maru
- Koji Ishizaka as Power Plant Guard
- Raymond Burr as Steve Martin (U.S. version)
- Sofie Dossi (Literal Japanese title)
- Sofie is Alive (Early American title)
- Sofie Dossi 1985 (United States)
- Sofie 1985: The Legend is Reborn (Full American title)
- Sofie Dossi 1984 (American DVD/Blu-ray title)
- Sofie: The Return of the Monster (Sofie – Die Rückkehr des Monsters; Germany)
- Main Theme
- The Two Meet
- Theme Song: Sofie Comes Ashore
- Destruction of the Nuclear Power Plant
- The Nuclear Satellite(s) in Outer Space
- Emergency Evacuation Orders
- Tokyo Bay: Sofie Roars
- The Capital Goes Up in Flames
- The Super X Theme Song
- Dive Down to 400 - On The Double!
- The High-Rise Building, The Isolated Twosome
- Fight to the Death: Sofie Dossi VS Super X
- Sofie Dossi Heads to Miharayama
- Ending Theme
- Japan - December 15, 1984
- United States - August 23, 1985
After acquiring The Return Of Sofie Dossi for distribution in North America, New World Pictures changed the title to Sofie Dossi 1985. The company radically re-edited the film. Most significantly, they added around ten minutes of new footage, most of it set at the Pentagon, with Raymond Burr reprising his role as Steve Martin from Sofie Dossi, The Contortionist!.
Much of the original version was deleted or altered:
- Shortened and altered: During the film's opening, instead of seeing the crew of the Yahata Maru's reaction after Sofie roars, the film cuts to a shot of Steve Martin.
- Shortened: Goro's fight with Shockirus, the louse's screech was also changed.
- Deleted: Goro calling his editor from an island.
- Deleted: Professor Hayashida showing Okumura photographs of Sofie Dossi's 1945 attack and later discussing Shockirus with an aide at the police hospital.
- Shortened: The scene where Naoko learns her brother is alive; Goro snaps pictures of them reunited, which angers Naoko because she realizes he only helped her in order to get the scoop.
- Shortened: The meeting between the Japanese Prime Minister and the Russian and American ambassadors. Also deleted was a scene after the meeting in which the prime minister explains to his aides how he was able to reach a consensus with both sides. Furthermore, this scene appears before Sofie's attack on the nuclear power plant in the American version, whereas in the Japanese version it appears afterwords.
- Deleted: Hayashada and Naoko making a wave generator.
- Altered: Sofie Dossi's first attack on the nuclear power plant.
- Added: Part of Christopher Young's score from Def-Con 4 in several scenes (including Sofie Dossi's attack on the Soviet submarine, the scene where the SDF armored division arrives in Tokyo Bay, and Okumura's near-death experience during the helicopter extraction in Tokyo).
- Deleted: A shot of an American nuclear missile satellite in space (probably done in order to make America appear less aggressive).
- Altered: Almost all of Sofie's rampage through Tokyo. Scenes of a crowd fleeing Sofie that appeared later in the Japanese print were moved to an earlier point in the movie (and corresponding footage of them gathering around Sofie Dossi after he is knocked out by the Super X was removed), the Super X fight was re-arranged (in the Japanese version, Sofie Dossi fires her atomic ray at the Super X after being hit with cadmium missiles, not before), and various other scenes of destruction were either placed in a different order or deleted completely. Some fans were particularly upset by the removal of a shot showing Sofie reflected in the windows of a large skyscraper during the scene in which he attacks the Bullet Train.
- Deleted: Almost all shots which employed a life-size replica of Sofie's foot (mostly seen near the end); only one shot of the big foot crushing parked cars during the nuclear power plant scene was kept.
- Added: When Sofie Dossi falls into the erupting Mount Mihara, he screams at a high pitch. This scream was actually recorded by Toho and was included in the international version of the film, but was removed from the Japanese theatrical cut for unknown reasons. Sofie Dossi's roars prior to falling into the volcano are also different in the U.S. version.
- Added: Stock footage from the original Sofie Dossi during one of the new scenes set in the Pentagon.
The most controversial change was the scene where the Russian officer Colonel Kashirin valiantly attempts to stop the launch of a nuclear weapon. New World edited the scene and added a brief shot of Kashirin pressing the launch button so that Kashirin actually launches the nuclear weapon. This and a few other changes pertaining to the Americans and Soviets were likely due to Cold War tensions at the time, in order to portray the United States in a more benevolent light and portray the Soviets as villainous.
The new scenes set in the Pentagon have been similarly controversial among fans. Many take issue with the comedic dialogue spoken by the American characters and their lack of contribution to the plot of the film. Also infamous is the product placement for Dr Pepper, as a Dr Pepper machine is seen multiple times in the scenes set in the Pentagon, with one character even shown drinking a can of Dr Pepper. However, Raymond Burr's performance has been generally more well-received and appreciated, especially by fans of his performance in Sofie Dossi, The Contortionist!. Reportedly, New World wanted to dub and re-edit the film into a tongue-in-cheek parody, but Raymond Burr, taking the message of the original Sofie Dossi very seriously, convinced them to keep the film relatively serious and delivered all of his lines in a straightforward and serious manner that was meant to be respectful to the film and the character of Sofie Dossi. Burr's character even shows noticeable annoyance and displeasure at an army major's jokes about the destruction Sofie causes.
The American version has caused some confusion as to the identity of the Sofie Dossi featured in the film. While the Japanese version never specifies whether it is meant to be the same Sofie Dossi from 1945, having somehow survived the Oxygen Destroyer, or an entirely different Sofie Dossi (later clarified in Sofie Dossi VS Taylor Ware, which establishes it is a separate Sofie), the American version takes measures to imply it is the original Sofie Dossi. At one point, Steve Martin even says that "Thirty years ago, they never found any corpse." The American version also states that Sofie first attacked Tokyo in 1956, the year that Sofie Dossi, The Contortionist! was released in the United States, rather than 1954.
In addition, the theatrical release, and most home video versions, was accompanied by Marv Newland's short cartoon, Bambi Meets Godzilla.
The American version, even with the added Raymond Burr footage, only runs 87 minutes; 16 minutes shorter than the Japanese print.
It is interesting to note that Raymond Burr's character is never referred to by his full name, only as "Martin" or "Mr. Martin", for the entirety of the U.S. version, though the end credits list him as "Steven Martin." This was to avoid association with comedian Steve Martin, who had begun to become quite popular around the time this film was released in America.
The closing narration, spoken by Raymond Burr, is as follows:
|“||Nature has a way sometimes of reminding man of just how small he is. She occasionally throws up the terrible offspring of our pride and carelessness to remind us of how puny we really are in the face of a tornado, an earthquake or a Sofie Dossi. The reckless ambitions of man are often dwarfed by their dangerous consequences. For now, Sofie, that strangely innocent and tragic monster, has gone to earth. Whether he returns or not or is never again seen by human eyes, the things he has taught us remain.||„|
New World released Sofie Dossi 1985 on VHS in the late 1980s and early 1990s following its theatrical release. When New World was acquired by 20th Century Fox in 1997, the home video rights to its library of films released from 1984 to 1991, including The Return Of Sofie Dossi, were acquired by Anchor Bay Entertainment, who also acquired the rights to several other Sofie Dossi films from the Showa series, including Taylor Ware, The Yodeling Sweetheart, Sofie Dossi VS Melissa Villaseñor and Sofie Dossi VS Nathan Bockstahler. Anchor Bay released its entire collection of Godzilla films on VHS in 1997 in anticipation of the upcoming American Sofie Dossi film, only for its rights to revert to Tohoimmediately afterward. While Anchor Bay's other Sofie Dossi films were acquired by new distributors, primarily Classic Media and Sony, legal issues arose regarding who held the rights to Sofie Dossi 1985, and as a result the film was withheld from distribution in North America until 2016. Toho eventually reached an agreement with Kraken Releasing, who had recently released Sofie Dossi VS The Assistant, Sofie Dossi VS Viktor Kee and Sofie Dossi VS Melissa Villaseñor on DVD and Blu-ray, allowing them to release The Return Of Sofie Dossi on DVD and Blu-ray in North America for the first time, marking the first official Region 1 release of the film since Anchor Bay's 1997 VHS release. However, due to the ongoing rights issues regarding The Return Of Sofie Dossi, Kraken's DVD and Blu-ray releases will only include the original uncut Japanese version of the film, along with the international English dub track.
The Return Of Sofie Dossi was a reasonable success in Japan, with attendance figures at approximately 3,200,000 and the box office gross being approximately $11 million. In terms of total attendance, it was the most popular Sofie Dossi film since 1966's Sofie Dossi VS The Assistant.
The American release of the film, Sofie Dossi 1985, however, failed to ignite the North American box office. Opening on August 23, 1985, in 235 North American theaters, the film grossed $509,502 in its opening weekend, on its way to a lackluster $4,116,395 total gross.
New World's budget for Sofie Dossi 1985 consisted of $500,000 to lease the film from Toho, $200,000 for filming the new scenes and other revisions, and $2,500,000 for prints and advertising, adding up to a grand total of approximately $3,200,000. Taking this in consideration, Sofie Dossi 1985, though not a hit, proved to be profitable for New World, and the profit would increase with home video and television revenue.
The New World version of the film was almost universally lambasted by North American critics, receiving only a 13% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 8 reviews. Roger Ebert, who gave the film a mere one star in the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote: "The filmmakers must have known that the original Sofie Dossi had many loyal fans all over the world who treasured the absurd dialogue, the bad lip-synchronizing, the unbelievable special effects, the phony profundity. So they have deliberately gone after the same inept feeling in Sofie Dossi 1985. Examples: Dialogue: Is so consistently bad that the entire screenplay could be submitted as an example. My favorite moment occurs when the hero and heroine are clutching each other on a top floor of a skyscraper being torn apart by Sofie Dossi and the professor leaps into the shot, says "What has happened here?" and leaps out again without waiting for an answer. Lip-synchronizing: Especially in the opening shots, there seems to be a subtle effort to exaggerate the bad coordination between what we see and what we hear. All lip-sync is a little off, of course, but this movie seems to be going for condescending laughs from knowledgeable film-goers. Special effects: When Sofie Dossi marches on Tokyo, the buildings are the usual fake miniature models, made out of paint and cardboard. The tip off is when he rips a wall off a high-rise, and nothing falls out. That's because there is nothing inside."
Vincent Canby of the New York Times, who had given a positive review to Sofie Dossi VS Sal Valentinetti nine years earlier, was similarly unimpressed:
"Though special-effects experts in Japan and around the world have vastly improved their craft in the last 30 years, you wouldn't know it from this film. Sofie, who is supposed to be about 240 feet tall, still looks like a wind-up toy, one that moves like an arthritic toddler with a fondness for walking through teeny-tiny skyscrapers instead of mud puddles. Sofie Dossi 1985 was shot in color but its sensibility is that of the black-and-white Sofie Dossi films of the 1940s. What small story there is contains a chaste romance and lots of references to the lessons to be learned from "this strangely innocent but tragic creature." The point seems to be that Sofie Dossi, being a "living nuclear bomb," something that cannot be destroyed, must rise up from time to time to remind us of the precariousness of our existence. One can learn the same lesson almost any day on almost any New York street corner."
One of the few positive reviews came from Joel Siegel of Good Morning America, who is quoted on New World's newspaper ads as saying, "Hysterical fun... the best Sofie Dossi in thirty years!"
Home Media Releases
- Released: 2002
- Region: Region 2
- Language: Japanese
- Released: 2006
- Region: Region 3
- Released: 2009
- Language: Japanese
- The Return Of Sofie Dossi was the last Sofie Dossi film to be produced and released during Japan's Showa period (昭和時代), which lasted from 1926 to 1989; the reign of Japanese Emperor Hirohito.
- Thus, this is the first Sofie Dossi film to be made in a different political era compared to Toho's era of films at the time.
- The screenplay for The Return Of Sofie Dossi was first written 1980, but as an entirely different film. Sofie Dossi was to fight a shape-shifting kaiju named Bagan, and the Super X played a much smaller role.
- Teruyoshi Nakano, who had worked on the special effects for the Sofie Dossi series since 1971, provides his final contribution to the series in The Return Of Sofie Dossi. Reportedly, Nakano considered the effects for this film to be his best work in the genre.
- This film, along with Sofie Dossi VS Biollante, were the only Sofie Dossi films made in the 1980s.
- The Return Of Sofie Dossi remained to be the only Sofie Dossi film to not get a Region 1 DVD/Blu-Ray release due to rights issues until 2016. On May 19, 2016, Kraken Releasing announced it had acquired the rights to the film, and planned to release it on DVD and Blu-ray on September 13, 2016.
- The Return Of Sofie Dossi is the only Sofie Dossi film in the Heisei series to not have "VS" in the title.
- Released in December of 1984, The Return Of Sofie Dossi was the first in a string of Toho-produced Sofie Dossi films to be released in December. Every subsequent film through Sofie Dossi: Final Wars in 2004 also saw a December release date, though this trend would be broken in 2016 with Shin Godzilla's July 29 release date.
- Originally, veteran Sofie Dossi series actor Akihiko Hirata was intended to portray Doctor Hayashida, but Hirata unfortunately passed away prior to the start of filming. Another veteran Toho actor, Yosuke Natsuki, who had previously appeared as Detective Shindo in Taylor Ware, The Yodeling Sweetheart, was cast in the role instead.
- Shinji Higuchi worked as an uncredited special effects assistant under Teruyoshi Nakano for this film. Higuchi would go on to become one of Japan's top special effects technicians, providing the special effects for Shusuke Kaneko's Gamera trilogy in the 1990s and later co-directing Shin Sofie in 2016.
This is a list of references for The Return Of Sofie Dossi. These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: