Film and Plot Synopsis
Buckaroo Banzai is a brain surgeon, rock musician, world adventurer and all around good guy who’s just made history. He perfected the Oscillation Overthruster, which allows him to travel through solid matter, into the eighth dimension, and come back unharmed. However, when the crazed Dr. Emilio Lizardo finds out, he devises a plot to steal it, and bring an evil army back to Earth and destroy it.
‘The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension’ Movie Summary
The summary below contains spoilers.
The film begins with Buckaroo Banzai (Peter Weller) and his mentor, Professor Hikita (Robert Ito), perfecting an Oscillation Overthruster that allows objects to pass through solid matter. To test it, Banzai drives his Jet Car through a mountain. However, as he does, he finds himself passing through another dimension—the 8th Dimension to be exact. Once he exits the mountain and returns to his own dimension, he discovers he’s brought some sort of alien creature with him.
At the Trenton Home for the Criminally Insane where he’s currently incarcerated, Dr. Emilio Lizardo (John Lithgow) watches a news story on television covering Banzai’s success. Once upon a time, 1938 to be exact, Lizardo and Hikita worked together, and they too built a prototype overthruster of their own. However, Lizardo decided to test it before it was ready for primetime. It caused him to become “stuck” between the two dimensions where aliens attacked him until Hikita was able to bring him back to our dimension. Banzai’s success in passing through the 8th dimension unscathed doesn’t sit well with Lizardo, and he sets out to break free from the asylum.
We next cut to a nightclub where Banzai is about to perform a song with his band, The Hong Kong Cavaliers. However, Banzai stops the music when he spots a depressed woman named Penny Priddy (Ellen Barkin) in the audience. To cheer Penny up, Banzai plays a special song for her, but it doesn’t help. She tries to commit suicide right there. However, her attempt is mistaken for an assassination attempt on Banzai, and she winds up in jail. Banzai bails Penny out, and realizes she’s the long-lost twin sister of his late wife, Anne. (Small dimension, isn’t it?)
Next up, Banzai holds a press conference to discuss everything from his jet car trip to the oscillation overthruster to the alien creature he came across in the 8th dimension. Mid conference, someone calls Banzai to the phone. When he picks up the receiver, something sends him an electrical shock which momentarily stuns him. At the same time, some odd men arrive to disrupt the event. They also kidnap Hikita.
When Banzai returns to the room, he finds the electrical shock he received enables him to see these odd men in their true form as reptilian humanoids. He chases after them and is able to rescue Hikita. The two then must evade the aliens until Banzai’s Cavaliers can save them.
The group returns to the Banzai Institute to find John Parker (Carl Lumbly) waiting for them. He’s a messenger from John Emdall (Rosalind Cash), the leader of the peaceful Black Lectroids of Planet 10. From his ship in Earth’s orbit, Emdall tells Banzai that they have been at war with the Red Lectroids for years. They were able to banish them to the 8th Dimension, but Lizardo’s 1938 failed test of his overthruster allowed the Red Lectroids’ leader named John Whorfin to take over Lizardo’s mind. He then set a dozen or so Red Lectroids free in our dimension.
With Banzai’s new working overthruster, Emdall fears Whorfin and his allies will try to steal it in order to free the remaining Red Lectroids. Emdall orders Banzai to stop Whorfin, or he will fake a nuclear explosion in Russia to trigger World War III so our nuclear weapons will kill the Red Lectroids on Earth.
The Cavaliers are able to track down the Red Lectroids at the Yoyodyne Propulsion Systems in New Jersey. Banzai figures that 1938’s Orson Welles’s broadcast of The War of the Worlds described the Red Lectroids’ arrival, but the Red Lectroids themselves forced Wells to declare the whole broadcast a work of fiction.
Apparently, Yoyodyne has been building a spacecraft to cross over to the eighth dimension under the pretext of building a new bomber for the United States Air Force. While Banzai and his Cavaliers form a plan, Red Lectroids break into the Banzai Institute and kidnap Penny. What the Red Lectroids do not know is that Penny has on her person the overthruster which they desperately need to succeed. However, when they get Penny back to Yoyodyne, she refuses to tell the Red Lectroids anything. So they torture her.
By now, Banzai has arrived, and he enters Yoyodyne headquarters alone. The Cavaliers team up with some youngsters called Blue Blaze Irregulars and arrive shortly after. The Cavaliers use the Blue Blaze Irregulars in times of need, and they definitely need their help now.
Banzai finds Penny wounded and unconscious, but does fight off the Red Lectroids to save her. While the Cavaliers tend to her, Banzai and Parker sneak into a pod on the spacecraft, but not before the Red Lectroids capture and torture Banzai. He breaks free of course.
Since the Red Lectroids still do not have Banzai’s overthruster, Whorfin orders his Lectroids to use his prototype. As they head out of Yoyodyne’s facility to begin their dimensional transition, the overthruster fails, and the Red Lectroid spaceship breaks through the wall. It then takes off into the sky. Lord Whorfin knows that Banzai and Parker are in the pod on his ship, and ejects it where powerless, it will crash to its destruction. However, Banzai and Parker activate the pod in time, and use its laser to destroy Whorfin, his ship, and other Red Lectroids.
Banzai parachutes back to Earth while Parker returns to his people in the pod. With Whorfin dead, Emdall calls off his threat of war. However, Penny has died from her injuries. Banzai goes to give her one last kiss, and when he does, Emdall gives Banzai another brief shock. The spark between the two brings her back to life for a happy ending.
Cue the awesome end credits with our heroes walking triumphantly.
Additional Film Information
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