Tuesday, July 29, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: Robert Clouse's GAME OF DEATH (1978)

Kicking motorcycles into existence while Han Solo uses him for cover. This dude was awesome!

Bruce Lee was a force of nature. In addition to his contributions to martial arts and philosophy, he was also an actor. He tried to do stuff on TV, but the biggest role he ever landed within that system was Kato on The Green Hornet. He attempted other stuff on television, but constantly got shot down by Hollywood before most of his ideas could get off the ground.

Ever heard of the show Kung Fu? Lee's idea, but Hollywood said "Oh, nobody's gonna go home at night, turn on the TV, and watch a Chinese man on a regular basis!" and gave the lead role to David Carradine.

Lee, out of work and betrayed by Tinseltown, left for Hong Kong. It turned out that The Green Hornet had quite a following there and Golden Harvest approached him to be in a movie, The Big Boss (or, Fists of Fury if you're in America). He was intended to be a supporting character, but the first scene filmed was the ice factory brawl. Lee's explosive performance in this scene alone forced the staff to rewrite the script and make his character the protagonist.

The Big Boss was a huge hit in Hong Kong, but it would soon be eclipsed by Lee's second film: Fist (not plural) of Fury (called The Chinese Connection in English).

Way of the Dragon (English: Return of the Dragon) came next, a film that Lee personally helmed production of. There, Lee plays a country bumpkin visiting his relatives running a Chinese restaurant in Rome, who are being threatened all the time by mobsters. It's funny seeing Lee as a fish out of water type here, but he still kicks everyone's butt. But the cherry on the sundae can be summed up in five words: Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris!

After the success of Way of the Dragon, Lee set out on a new project: a movie that would showcase not only martial arts, but also philosophy about the subject: Game of Death. Lee was to play retired martial arts champion Hai Tien, who is forced by the Korean mafia to raid a five-story pagoda with four other fighters. On each floor, there is a highly trained fighter guarding each set of stairs. Lee only managed to film approximately thirty-five minutes of the ending before something unexpected happened: Hollywood came to say "sorry".

Warner Bros. was studying the box office grosses in Hong Kong and came across his movies burning up the charts. He was offered the starring role in Enter the Dragon, effectively pausing Game of Death's production.

Enter the Dragon would prove to be Lee's biggest movie, but also his last; he died before it even premiered. The cause of Lee's death has been debated for over forty years (allergy, cerebral edema, "vibrating palm" theory, UFOs, black helicopters, etc.), but in the wake of the event came a new trend in oriental cinema: Bruceploitation.

Bruceploitation was a phenomenon that swept Hong Kong, Taiwan, and mainland China, where producers trying to make a buck off of Lee's legacy hired impersonators to be in a bunch of low-budget knock-off movies you'd probably see on a DVD rack at your local gas station.

The names of the "Lee-alikes" were really inspired: "Bruce Le", "Bruce Lai", "Bruce Liang", "Bruce Thai", "Bruce Chen", "Lee Bruce", "Bronson Lee", "Brute Lee", "Dragon Lee"... I think there could have been a "Bruce Bruce" and a "Lee Lee" among them as well.

Eventually, Hollywood tried to get in on the action with a 1978 movie called Game of Death, directed by Enter the Dragon's Robert Clouse. It sounds like they tried to finish what Lee had started back before he died, doesn't it? Think again.

NOTE: Descriptions of what was changed from the original concept will be marked dark green.


THE MOVIE

The opening sequence is actually really nice. It makes me think of an intro to a 007 movie, an idea helped by the fact that John Barry did the score.

The movie proper opens with actor Billy Lo (Bruce Lee and the clones thereof) doing a shot-for-shot, move-by-move remake of the Colosseum fight from near the cendlimax of Way of the Dragon... in fact, it IS the Colosseum fight from near the end of Way of the Dragon!

After they finish the scene, Billy nearly gets killed by a falling floodlight. This lets him know that a... "respectable businessman" wants to see him, so he goes to his trailer to have said meeting.

Keep in mind that this flick hit theaters five years after Lee got a permanent job as a worm buffet, so sometimes the film shows a little snippet of footage from a previous movie inter-cut with new footage of a body double with his face obscured. That allows for us to see the stand-in walk to his trailer with a towel over his shoulders and cut to this:

Gotta love how the towel transcends background AND foreground!

Once he goes in, we see pre-existing footage of the real Lee... with the added bonus of a towel edited over his shoulders in a choppy manner!

It reminds me of when Saban put panties on Goku in the 1995 dub of Dragon Ball!

Anyway, Mr. Mafia (called Steiner, played by Hugh O'Brien) keeps making veiled threats about mutilating Billy before the actor tells him to bug off and...



PFFFFFT! HAAA-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Oh... Hahahahahaha!

Hehahaha...!

(Twenty minutes later...)

Okay, okay... I think I'm over it... Let's...


BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

(Fifteen minutes later...)

WHOOF... 

Sorry everyone, this is laughably pitiful! A picture of Lee's face taped onto a mirror to hide the double's face -- this easily trumps the fake towel! Six minutes in and we've reached the bottom!

Billy finally kicks Steiner in the face in exchange for scratching his mirror. Steiner immediately leaves, calling what Billy did "a very big mistake". Maybe it's just me, but don't you think Mitchell's "Watch out for falling rocks" is a little bit cooler?

Oh, you think this is all too silly to be real? Well here's the whole scene!

Don't worry, there won't be cardboard faces beyond this point! From now on, Billy wears silly sunglasses!


Steiner goes to a meeting with his boss, a pretty old-looking dude named Dr. Land (Dean Jagger) and the rest of the gang, such as a guy called Stick (who stacks matches, played by Mel Novak), professional fighter Carl Miller (Bruce Lee movie alumnus Bob Wall) and a huge guy called Hakim.

Hey, wait a minute! I know you! You're Roger Murdock! You're the co-pilot!
The character above was in Lee's incomplete version of Game of Death, played there by former student and basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. When Clouse's crew approached him to be in this movie, Kareem refused, wanting Lee's footage to be left alone. As a result, they got an impersonator whose name is as unknown as the fighting style his character originally employed. Here, however, he works for the mob.

Billy goes out to dinner with his singer girlfriend Ann Morris (Colleen Camp) and she's being harassed by the gangsters as well. Eventually the mob shows up on motorcycles and gets into a fight with Billy. Despite him pretty much mopping the floor with them, Ann calls out to him as if it were the other way 'round!

Once Steiner threatens to kill Ann with the concealed blade in his walking stick, Billy just lets the henchmen beat him up... a sight completely alien to those who have seen the four films the real Lee actually starred in.


After getting the tar beat out of him, the couple goes to dinner and discuss the syndicate with a journalist friend of theirs, Jim Marshall (Gig Young). During the talk, Jim relates to them the story of a guy called Charlie Wang (if anyone cracks a joke, you're going to get to see what your own aorta looks like!) and we get our first glimpse at Lee's original Game of Death footage!


Charlie Wang was played by Hong Kong actor James Tien, who had co-starred with Lee in The Big Boss and Fist of Fury. In Lee's version of GoD, Tien's character was to play one of the five fighters the Korean mafia hired to infiltrate the pagoda. The footage the still above was taken from was from when his character was able to slip past the Floor 4 guardian and has a futile fight the one on Floor 5 (Kareem's character).

Here, through the magic of archival footage, Charlie was suckered by the mob and is about to be clobbered by Hakim. It's stated that after he was reduced to a pulp, his body was "fished out of the harbor". Keep this in mind for later.

Despite Jim trying to get Billy to consider quitting his acting career, Billy keeps trying to figure out a third option. He goes to the Chinese opera to speak with his uncle (Roy Chiao, the guy who played the head monk in Enter the Dragon).


Billy's uncle knows that the mob's after his nephew and gives him some advice: the more famous you are, the more you have to lose. If you have low self-esteem, losing what you've earned becomes much easier. Billy makes the decision to fight back, but is worried about Ann; his uncle tells him to send her away.

In no time, the motorcycle goons show up in their colorful tracksuits show up and fight Billy. Billy manages to do pretty well until a belt comes down over his arms. ("Bruce Lee" gets his butt kicked again!?)

He still refuses to play ball with the mob and begs Ann to hide out in America until the situation blows over... but she doesn't listen.

At the studio, Billy's film crew is giving the last scene of Fist of Fury the same treatment they gave the Chuck Norris fight. Little does our impersonator know, Stick was sent to the set with live ammunition and shoots him in the face.

The eerie thing about this is that this would be the fate of Brandon Lee during production of The Crow fifteen years later. Only here, Billy doesn't die.

Yep. He gets shot in the face and lives. His face will have to undergo plastic surgery, which would mean no more recycled footage... but we won't be so lucky.

Nobody is allowed to know the truth about Billy's survival, not even Ann. They even stage a funeral while surgery goes on behind the scenes. It would have been pretty good... IF IT WASN'T FOOTAGE OF BRUCE LEE'S ACTUAL FUNERAL!

The movie even shows Lee's actual body! Disgraceful!
(...does this make me just as bad?)

Ann, believing that Billy is dead, wants to start up her own fight against the mafia but passes out from the whole ordeal and gets sent to a rehab center. After three weeks, she's getting over the trauma... but when Dr. Land brings Stick along with Steiner, she has a relapse into "crazy":

video
Hey, you dudes were the ones who shot her boyfriend!



While mob runs away from Ann's hissy fit, Billy imagines how he'd look if he played Grizzly Adams with sunglasses. He's doing this so he can trail the mob to Macau and disrupt a fight they've been planning that involves Miller.

Billy follows Dr. Land in a taxi and they all get stopped by a lion dance before getting to Land's townhouse. There, Billy tries to fight Land, but his attention quickly shifts his attention to a stream of cronies the mob boss summoned. This time Billy beats them... probably because they aren't wearing tracksuits.

Eventually, Miller shows up and he chases Billy through the streets, eventually losing sight of his quarry in the same lion dance from earlier.

That night, Miller defeats a guy called Lo Chen (Hong Kong movie legend Sammo Hung) in one of the dirtiest fights ever. Ann is also at the fight and tries to shoot Dr. Land, but Billy (disguised as an old man in traditional Chinese attire) tells her that everything's under control. 

With Miller the winner, he is escorted into his locker room by cheering crowds (the man kicked Chen in the back and hit one of his corner men!). He tries to take a shower, but gets locked in by Billy, who quickly reveals himself... through recycled footage from Way of the Dragon. (What's the point of the plastic surgery thing if they keep showing pre-existing clips?)

This results in one confusing fight...

Can anyone explain how you go from an alley behind a Chinese restaurant
in Rome (TOP) to a locker room in Macau (BOTTOM)? And where's that window?
Where did this wallpaper come from during Miller's combo?
Why is the stand-in's hairstyle so different from Lee's in the archival footage?

Billy kills Miller, which raises suspicion from Land about Billy's status as being dead. Steiner has the grave dug up and confirms that he's still kicking and a dummy was buried instead.


Meanwhile, Billy reveals to Ann that he's still alive and begs her to go back to America before the mob finds her. Unfortunately, she fails -- the motorcycle goons get her. Steiner tells Jim that they'll let her go if Billy gives himself up to them. Jim doesn't buy it and warns Billy.

Danny Trejo is hiding somewhere in this picture. Can you kids at home find him?

Billy runs off to the warehouse where he fights the motorcycle cronies one more time. He knocks out the dude in the yellow tracksuit and takes it off. In Lee's original concept, the tracksuit was used to symbolize no allegiance to any single martial art. Here... it's just a disguise. 

Lee beats up the motorcycle gang, allowing for Ann to leave the movie by running off into the rain. Stick tries to shoot Billy again, muffs it, and gets pounded by his would-be victim, who screams: "WEH'S THE DOCK-TAAH!?"

He finds out that Land's at the Red Pepper Restaurant, a Hong Kong eating establishment which also doubles as floors three through five of the Palsangjeon Pagoda in South Korea. Why do I say this? Because we're about to see a chopped-down version of the original Game of Death's climax. 



The first fight is against high-ranking henchman Pasqual (previously played by a stand-in, now by Escrima expert Dan Inosanto).

In Lee's original version, this was the third fight in the pagoda and was used to break up the hand-to-hand fighting in the previous unfilmed fights. His gimmick was to start off beating "Shave and a Haircut, Two Bits" on his sticks and beats his opponents with a formulaic routine. Lee's two remaining cohorts, James Tien and Chieh Yuan, can't beat him. Lee has to take him out.

Billy finds a pair of nunchaku (the weapon most associated with Lee) and a green bamboo stick on a weapons rack at the foot of the stairs. Originally, the stick was supposed to symbolize flexibility; the rehearsed stuff Inosanto's character was using couldn't adapt to the agility of the stick. Here, the deeper meaning is lost; it's just a weapon.

Disarmed, Pasqual takes his nunchaku out and Billy does the same. Billy ultimately breaks his neck with the weapon.

During the fight, keen-eyed viewers can find the big club Chieh Yuan tried to fight Inosanto with before quickly losing it.
(That sequence, sadly, has been lost to history)


Next floor, an unnamed "restaurant fighter" played by Hapkido grandmaster Ji Han-Jae. His gimmick is a lot of grappling and throwing. His room's also filled with broken pottery (as if he fought two other guys).

Hey, it's Chieh Yuan! He tried to sneak past this guardian and was thrown down the stairs by Kareem!

Billy busts the guy's back Bane-style and runs upstairs.

Hey! It's Charlie Wang! It's so nice that they brought his body back to the very room he was
killed in after it was pulled out of the water! It's almost like those two fights were consecutive!

At last we come to the footage of the legendary fight between Bruce Lee and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. In the original production, the fighter on the top floor had no particular style and was unfazed by the concept of dying. This made him the most effective fighter and made for a fight of attrition with Hai Tien. Hai only manages to beat him through sheer luck, for he punches holes in the wall by accident... revealing that his opponent's eyes are sensitive to sunlight (in the Clouse version, I think he's reacting to the floodlight Billy accidentally turned on trying to get into the restaurant/pagoda). This weakens his defenses and he is beaten by Hai choking him to death. 


The fight pretty much goes the same way it did in the original Lee version... but heavily condensed to the point that it becomes just another fight in the movie.

With Hakim dead, Steiner tries to fight Billy and he has the special ability to make the recently-deceased henchman appear off-camera and try to kick him; Billy can also magically move around the bruises on his face. Mr. Mafia's beaten when Billy kicks him down the stairs, right next to the unexplained dead body of Chieh Yuan.

I hope he used the restroom beforehand!

Billy finds a wax dummy of Dr. Land placed to fool him into thinking he was dead. In reality, Land waited until the last possible second to escape. Billy had ample time to catch up to him descending a short fire escape ladder and swat at him lightly with his right arm. Land loses his footing and slides down the roof screaming obscenities, gets electrocuted, and hits the pavement.


THE END


...if you're watching the English-language version, that is. The Hong Kong version ended with two silent alternate endings:

  1. An ambulance shows up to collect the body of Dr. Land and the police arrest one of the Bruce Lee clones for impersonation.
  2. Billy and Ann say goodbye to Jim and leave for America by ship, complete with a transparent image of Lee superimposed over the ship.

If you're reading this, you'll have a better chance of seeing the abrupt conclusion.



FINAL THOUGHTS

"Game of Death has forty minutes of footage and the rest is junk." -- Brandon Lee

Definitely the textbook example of Bruceploitation. It's kind of ironic, too: after Lee died in 1973 without finishing his movie, his fans wanted to see what he'd made. Some knowledge of what Lee was planning with his incomplete opus was at least known to the world, and Clouse's movie was neither the first nor the last to try to make a buck off of the concept. The plus for the Clouse version? He actually showed some of Lee's footage, but told his own story instead of finishing what had been started. The end result, ultimately, was about 20% Plan 9 From Outer Space and 80% Mitchell

It's pretty bizarre to see Lee's character get the snot knocked out of him, considering that in the four movies he made gave him the upper hand even when outnumbered (thanks to sheer skill). The fact that the staff was trying to pass off that Lee was actually in the movie was a trainwreck: having his face hidden in the shadows, having him wear enormous sunglasses (even at night!), and the infamous picture on the mirror. The jumping between Lee-alike and recycled footage tended to be obvious (watch the Carl Miller fight). The entire plastic surgery angle would have made sense to explain why Billy looks different from Lee, but they still recycle old scenes regardless, defeating its purpose. Kareem's double looked pretty phony as well, but his saving grace was that he was only in two scenes. 

The guy dubbing over Billy, Christopher Kent, has almost no enthusiasm in his role. Sounds kind of bored to me. 

Despite all this, there are some pluses. The John Barry score is very awesome and the fight choreography by Sammo Hung was good as well, in spite of the fact that he was a vocal critic of Bruceploitation and went on to satirize the genre with Enter the Fat Dragon. Colleen Camp did a pretty beautiful song for the movie, too; it's a bit tear-inducing if you marathoned the four legit movies. Camp had a really good voice, it's a shame she didn't have much of a singing career.

Ultimately, Robert Clouse's Game of Death can be considered a guilty pleasure in an extreme case and a joke in general. If you want to see the unaltered version of the climax, track down the documentary Bruce Lee: A Warrior's Journey

It's a little sad that Lee was never able to finish Game of Death the way he wanted. How it would have been received is as big a mystery as to what the treasure was that Kareem was guarding. The surviving notes from the movie didn't give a clear enough picture about what all happens and Lee himself wasn't quite sure what the treasure at the top would be. But at least we can be certain that people have learned a valuable lesson: if your top-billed star dies and only filmed a couple of scenes, don't progress with project (especially if he's been dead for over five years) or try to trick the public with inserted clips from older movies he did. Nobody would be that dumb as to try it a second time, right?

In the words of Mr. Plinkett, "Oh..."


I'm DLAbaoaqu. This review is dedicated to the memory of Beijing Bootlegs and other fine web shows that were victimized by Blip's Country Club Syndrome.



The Big Boss, Way of the Dragon, and Game of Death (Clouse) is owned by Golden Harvest.
Game of Death (Lee) is owned by Bruce Lee's estate (I think).
Dragon Ball is owned by FUNimation, Toei Animation, Fuji TV, and Akira Toriyama (Please support the official release!)
Trail of the Pink Panther is owned by Blake Edwards Entertainment and MGM/UA.









Monday, July 14, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: UHF (1989)

Television the way it was meant to be seen: in a movie theater!

Few would disagree that Weird Al Yankovic has long acquired his bust in the comedy hall of fame. The man is most noted for his uncanny ability to rewrite popular songs to be about, well, anything! From Gilligan's Island to Star Wars (twice!) and beyond. But when it came to media that wasn't music, Yankovic never seemed to get beyond guest spots on TV shows. In the late Nineties, for example, he had a kids' show (appropriately called The Weird Al Show) which only lasted one season. Shame, really, I thought it was pretty cool.

Long before that, Yankovic made the subject of this article: UHF. When it came out, it generated only a lukewarm turn-out from audiences, more than likely driven to bigger films of the time like Tim Burton's Batman, Ghostbusters II, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade among others; meanwhile, critics savaged the movie. The critical and commercial failure of UHF led to Yankovic refusing to do another movie.

But was it as bad as critics claimed? Let's take a look.



We begin with a cute little spoof of Raiders of the Lost Ark that ends with the revelation that it's a daydream happening in the head of George Newman (Yankovic).  George's constant zoning out frequently got him and his roommate Bob (David Bowe) fired from pretty much everywhere. George runs his mouth too long when Bob expresses his concerns, allowing their boss to overhear George's insults. Back to the unemployment office!

As if George's wild imagination wasn't enough, he tends to lose track of time and forget about spending time with his girlfriend Teri (Victoria Jackson). She's also concerned about his wandering mind, but whenever she expresses these feelings George does stuff like do shout-outs to Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

George goes to a party at his Uncle Harvey's, a gambler who's chummy with a crime boss called Big Louie. In my opinion, Louie makes a better Dr. Claw than Rupert Everett ever did:

"I'll get you next time, Gadget! Next time!"

Harvey's made a killing in poker, even winning the deed to the obscure, nearly-bankrupt station U-62. Despite Harvey's intent to tear it down, his wife decides to put George in charge of the place.

I hope they meet Wolfman Jack!

Upon arriving, they meet a bum (Vance Colvig, Jr.) who begs for change.George gives him a little bit... and gets a dollar in exchange! Ha!

U-62's status is so far down the toilet that it's relegated to showing Mr. Ed reruns and acting as the lab/home of a strange scientist known only as Philo (Anthony Geary).

The next day, George brings Bob to the station where they meet Pamela Finklestein (Fran "The Nanny" Drescher). Pam's problem is that she wants to be a reporter, but has been saddled with a "temporary" job as the station's secretary for two years. We learn this because she expresses her grievances to the deaf ears of George and Bob.

Studying the channel's line-up, George comes to the conclusion that they air too many reruns and should make original, live shows. But before they can turn the station around, Pam tells the boys that the mailman left a package for Channel 8 on their step by accident, so George volunteers to go take it by there.

Ted Baxter really moved up in the world after the Six O'Clock News crew got fired!

We meet the ruthless head of Channel 8, R. J. Fletcher (Kevin McCarthy), as he fires janitor Stanley Spadowski (Michael "Kramer" Richards) for supposedly losing an important document that was left on his desk the night before. With him chased away, Fletcher discovers that the file was in his chair all along. Doesn't even go after him to apologize, just laughs; his laughing is followed up by his three lackeys uncomfortably joining in. 

It would seem the whole building is scared of him, too, because when George shows up with the package and addresses him as "R. J." everything falls into dead silence. Even the ringing telephone. George BARELY delivers the box, no thanks to Fletcher threatening and talking over him.

On his way out, George watches as one of Fletcher's cronies forces Stanley's mop out of his grip. It wasn't even Channel 8's mop, it was Stanley's since he was eight years old. Okay, it's official. Fletcher's utter evil.

Fortunately for Stanley, George gives him a new job right away (wish it were that fast for people in real life).

Meanwhile, Pam does a news report at city hall with a Little Person called Noodles McIntosh (Billy Barty) as her camera man. Needless to say, Fletcher's cronies show up to screw up the report. Naturally, Fletcher's unfazed by the incident when confronted by it.

It's Hawaiian Punch! Honest!

George's attempts to get some original programming going sputter right out of the gate when he interviews the clumsiest shop teacher in the world (played by Emo Phillips) on Town Talk. He and Bob also make a pretty dreadful kiddy show with an audience that has the collective enthusiasm of an Egyptian mummy. George even goes as far as to make a special bulletin to wish Teri a happy birthday and invite her and her parents to eat at a fancy restaurant with him.

Unfortunately, he gets lulled to sleep by the monotony of his work and Beverly Hillbillies reruns... which leads to an awesome spoof of Dire Straits' Money For Nothing music video... and forgets about his date. Teri calls U-62 personally to tell him that they're through. Ouch.

With the station falling apart around his ears financially and depressed about Teri breaking up with him, George hands control of his kiddy show over to Stanley. He and Bob go to a bar to drown their sorrows in booze... and are soon to learn that Stanley's uplifting and offbeat personality made the show do a one-eighty! Then, he delivers one heck of a motivational speech to the audience:

"Sometimes you just hafta take what life gives ya, 'cause life is like a mop and sometimes life gets full of dirt and crud and bugs and hairballs and stuff... you, you, you gotta clean it out. You, you, you gotta put it in here and rinse it off and start all over again and, and sometimes, sometimes life sticks to the floor so bad you know a mop, a mop, it's not good enough, it's not good enough. You, you gotta get down there, like, with a toothbrush, you know, and you gotta, you gotta really scrub 'cause you gotta get it off. You gotta really try to get it off. But if that doesn't work, that doesn't work, you can't give up. You gotta, you gotta stand right up. You, you gotta run to a window and say, "Hey! These floors are dirty as hell, and I'm not gonna take it any more!" 

The retooled kiddy show (Stanley Spadowski's Clubhouse) becomes a big success, being sold-out for months. Ultimately, this leads to new ideas that George came up with: the game show Wheel of Fish, a zanier version of Town Talk (guests include Jason Voorhees and the Devil), Raul's Wild Kingdom, Conan the Librarian, and Secrets of the Universe with Philo.

TRIVIA: The Raul character was supposed to have a bigger role in the movie,
but his actor, Trinidad Silva, was sadly killed by a drunk driver. Had he lived, 
you would have seen a scene where the poodles got back at Raul for hurling
them out the window!

While all this is going on, George struggles to get Teri to talk to him, be it leaving desperate messages on his answering machine or filling her home with balloons and flowers.

Fletcher is still an unlikable fink, who now has an obsession with getting a genuine Rolex watch. He's informed of the rise U-62, but quickly brushes it off. But when that little "fly-by-night" station becomes the No. 1 channel in America, he decides to take matters into his own hands!

But what happened to Uncle Harvey? Well, his luck in gambling went sour and now has to pay Big Louie $75,000 in only two days. In such a bleak predicament, Harvey negotiates with Fletcher to hand U-62 over to him for demolition. Once Harvey's wife learns about the deal, he gives George the task of raising the money -- something the gambler doubts he can pull off.

To tackle the daunting task of raising the $75,000, George starts a telethon: Save Our Station! Each caller who pledges $10 would be given a share of U-62. 7,500 certificates were printed; the goal is to sell all of them within thirty-six hours. Naturally, Fletcher attempts to sabotage the effort by abducting Stanley... who quickly gets on his kidnappers' nerves.



The next day, Fletcher runs into the homeless dude from earlier in the movie, still begging for change. He gives the guy one penny. Might seem like a trivial detail here... but it's not.

Teri goes into Channel 8 and confronts Fletcher, telling him to call off the plans to tear down U-62 since it's so important to the whole city. This leads to Fletcher beginning a big speech about how much he doesn't care about how much his rival means to the town... unaware that Philo is secretly recording him. Earlier, you see, Philo bugged Fletcher's office with a hidden camera.

Oh, payback is building!


Back at the goons' hideout, Stanley's talking finally gets under their skin... and he sees his beloved mop in the corner! This leads to funny, awesome chase through the Channel 8 office. This results in Philo and George discovering Stanley's whereabouts, George darting out into the night to save him, which gives us this slice of Epic Win:


With George snapped out of his fantasy by the point of a gun, things don't look good for our heroes... but they're saved at the last minute by Karate sensei and Wheel of Fish host Kuni (Gedde Watanabe) and his students. SUPPLIES!

With the jubilee of Stanley's return to U-62, he gives a rousing speech about the ills of Channel 8 and the crowd refuses to tolerate Fletcher's misdeeds. No sooner does this happen does the Channel 8 CEO try to cover his butt with an emergency broadcast. It at this moment, Philo interrupts the Fletcher's message with his recording of the Suit's tirade from earlier.

"This community means about as much to me as a festering bowl of dog snot!"

Oho! We need a lifebar on this! Trust me!


Save Our Station hits $73,000 dollars when Teri shows up at U-62 to patch things up with George. Uncle Harvey shows up, too.

Finally, time runs out for U-62 when Fletcher and Big Louie show up -- they only raised $73,240 when midnight rolled around. Things look grim, but remember Chester A. Bum, Sr.? He shows up with $2,000, wanting to buy up the remaining shares. With the necessary money all his, George pays off Big Louie and saves  U-62!


But not only does Fletcher lose U-62, he also forgot to renew the license for Channel 8! Of course, the FCC saw his little speech (thanks to Philo) and, instead of having to pay a fine, his station is history. Pam covers the story.

Better watch out, Fletch! Your health's below 30%!


Not enough to finish him. But I know what can!

Remember that penny he gave Chester A. Bum, Sr.? It was an incredibly rare one that made him stinking rich! With his new-found wealth, our homeless guy was able to get the money required to buy the remaining stocks and...

"IT'S A ROLEX! SEE?"

I haven't the heart to tell him that there won't be a sequel in which he can try
to redeem himself.
Welcome to purgatory, Fletch: a world of rejected applications, job scams, pointless assessment questions, and food stamps. 

Well, it's 1989, so you have a shot at finding a new job. Start with Big Edna's Burger World.


Amid the PWNage of Fletcher, his son gets tripped into a mud puddle by Noodles... a bit of reciprocation for earlier! We also see that Philo is really an alien whose business on Earth is finished and is going back home...


...and nobody saw it but you, the viewer. We also see George give Stanley a trophy for being the World's Greatest Janitor. Finally, we end on a daydream spoofing Gone With the Wind.



THE END


FINAL THOUGHTS

"The problem with UHF is that everything in it is a parody. The only logic for anything that happens is that there's some new thing to make fun of-mostly inanely. It's not much of a movie." -- Michael Wilmington, Los Angeles Times

"The result is a very unfunny movie. I did not record a single laugh during the running time of the film, and although I admittedly saw the movie at a press screening and not on a Saturday matinee at the multiplex in the mall, I wonder how many laughs there will be when the movie does go public." -- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"Viewing UHF may be injurious to your sense of humor. Rarely has a comedy tried so hard and failed so often to be funny." -- Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune

The old saying goes that no statue was ever erected for a critic. I don't know what men like these were smoking, the "everything in it is a parody" complain is laughable; what would Wilmington do on the day the monster Seltzerberg rose out of the briny deep to wreak havoc on comedy? Siskel and Ebert probably didn't get it, but they may have hated North and Godzilla '98 Zilla, yet gave "thumbs up" to Space Jam (so make of that what you will).

The most important thing, above all else, is if the audience enjoyed it. UHF found its audience on home video and TV airings, effectively making it a cult classic. Go on YouTube and you can find all the famous clips from the movie. It's that loved.

Yankovic's humor always appealed to me, as I've always been fascinated with parody. It's a feel-good romp from the 80's/90's Transitional Period (an awesome time for media in my opinion) and my love for this movie grows a tiny bit each time I rewatch it. It's a film I would recommend to anyone. Really lifts up your spirits when they're down.

I'm DLAbaoaqu. Orion... Orion is bankrupt now!

UHF was owned by Orion
Weird Al Yankovic is owned by... um, himself

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

MOVIE REVIEW: CAPTAIN OF COSMOS (1984)

Let's talk a little about bootlegs. In the 80’s, Hong Kong-based film producer Joseph Lai put out infinity ninja movies: Secret Ninja, Leopard Fist Ninja, Ninja Thunderbolt, Ninja Champion, Ninja Terminator, Ninja Dragon, Ninja Lumberjack, Ninja Mailman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Ninjas… if the word “Ninja” was in the title, Lai probably produced it.

But his antics weren’t just limited to Ninjasploitation… he also wanted in on anime bootlegs! Most of these wouldn’t be made in Hong Kong, though. He’d buy them from South Korea and distribute them in the most obscure places around the world. Through his actions, the world was able to get that fabled endurance test it always wanted called Space Thunder Kids!

If Dr. Forrester/Pearl had this thing... the Satellite of Love would be in deep trouble.


Some reviewers on the web have scuttled these faux-anime oddities, but today, I’m going after something even more infamous. This is Captain of Cosmos:

Will this happen in the movie? Place your bets now! 

On the DVD cover, we have a skirmish involving a Gundam unit and an unrelated mech in the air behind it (it's probably from a Tatsunoko-produced anime from the 80's, but it's not a Valkyrie). Also, Char Quattro Bajeena getting intimate with a young lady in the the upper-right corner, who seems to a mix of Four Murasame and Yellow Dancer from Genesis Climber Mospeada.


As the credits begin with total silence against stock science fiction images. That's right: for the first twenty seconds of the film, there is no music at all... then we get hit by what sounds like R2-D2's reaction to being spun around at 100 MpH. This is followed by an early-80's Korean disco number sung by children. As the credits roll, it seems that the idea that people on the Korean Peninsula had names like "Mae Jin-Hee" or "Kwon Tae-Min" was misguided; lots of people in both countries go by names like "Roy Thomas", "Jerry Collins", and "Tony Lewis"!

Aha! A flimsy name-change! This movie'll just be a feature-length RickRoll! Not falling for it!
(Wow, that was a dated reference!)

Our narrator (who vaguely sounds like Tristan trying to hide his trademark Bullwinkle voice) tells us that it's the distant future and space travel has advanced to the point that people can visit other planets faster than ever before. Unfortunately, this inevitably resulted in a series of wars... but luckily, there's a group of people called the Cosmos Warriors out to fight for peace.

No sooner does our narrator stop talking are we shown a dogfight where a Prince Lotor wannabe in a silly mask is trying to shoot down...


Hm, for some reason it looks like a Zeon normal suit (a combination flight/space suit, in case you ask) with a different color scheme. Probably just a coincidence.

The dogfight continues with both pilots trying to see which one has the least accurate targeting computer. Not-Lotor manages to wing him and the crippled fighter (leaving a smoke trail in space) is forced to land on a rocky planetoid. It makes sure not explode until its pilot is at a safe distance.

Then, Not-Lotor suddenly up next to the marooned pilot and tries to kill him with a dagger, saying that he doesn't have a "chan". Not a "chance", a "chan"; thank you, audio flub!

With the pilot backed up against a cliff, Not-Lotor stalls for a long time instead of going for the kill. Someone finally gets fed up, because a laser bolt hits the pilot. Who? Not-Lotor's boss...


...Rita Repulsa's cousin Betty! Betty is the ruler of a place called the Green Empire; a place nobody knows about (and knowing this movie's obscurity, I'm not shocked).

The scene ends abruptly shortly after we first see Betty and we cut to a space liner giving a tour. One little boy gets all excited and announces that he's "Captain of the Cazmus" (not "Cosmos", "Cazmus", so we can rule him out as our protagonist) and despite being "the greatest", trips over someone's foot. Most of the passengers bust out laughing (He's, like, four-years-old! You people are mean!). Then, we meet this dude:


I hereby dub thee: Obi-Dore Merlinwood!

I think he might be suffering from Youngblood's Disease, since he's squinting ninety-percent of the time I see him. We DO get a close-up of his eye, which is open long enough to show us a vision of Betty and her forces. His warnings to the passengers and the stewardess get laughed off.

Ultimately, Obi-Dore gets last laugh when the ship gets attacked. He busts through a window to use his magic wand on Betty's centaur army. Yes, they're all out in space without protection. Thank goodness this film is operating on Space Ghost physics, otherwise Obi-Dore just doomed a whole ship!

Betty manages to kill Obi-Dore (poor fella, came and went in one minute), leaving the ship defenseless. She has a Torgo moment as she claims the vessel ("Now listen to my orders and do what I tell you!"), but as this is going on an escape module launches to find help. A centaur chases after it, detours to a barren wasteland, then hurl a javelin; the tiny spear is more than enough to reduce the craft to vapor (you read this correctly).



Now we go to a starcruiser with a Famicom-style paint job, where the REAL fun begins. We see an old man who facially resembles a dwarf, a bored boy who can imitate donkeys and dogs, and...

...no way.
Okay. Now we're getting into the heart of this movie's infamy.

For those of you who were oblivious to the fact over the past few years, I am a fan of Universal Century Gundam. I haven’t seen every nook and cranny of that timeline, but I'm aware of what's what. Expect me to reference this series a lot in this review. Let's take this apart piece by piece:



For those unfamiliar with the original series, the dude in the black costume and helmet is a recolor of the original (and most celebrated) masked pilot of the Gundam franchise: Char Aznable, the Red Comet. Char joined the Principality of Zeon's military with the secret goal to avenge the death of his father, Contolist revolutionary leader Zeon Zum Deikun, whose demise he pinned on the country's leader, Degwin Zabi (one of Deikun's associates during the Munzo Revolution of UC 0058). His revenge plans gradually took a back seat as his rivalry with Federation Ace Amuro Ray solidified. 

Char is as recognizable in Japan as Darth Vader and Spock are in the US.

Back on track...

Not-Char is sparring with...


A KYCILIA ZABI RECOLOR!?

Another one already? Ugh...



Rear Admiral Kycilia Zabi was the second-oldest of Degwin Zabi's children and his only daughter. She was Commissar of Mobile Weapons Development. Thanks to Char, she probably died the most grizzly death in the anime.

Getting back to the movie...

Not-Char and Not-Kycilia (they have different names in the movie, but I refuse to acknowledge them) practice sword-fighting and I can't make heads or tails whether they're particle blades, regular steel, or just glow-in-the-dark toys. At one point, amid all the acrobatics, Not-Kycilia's helmet falls off and -- SAYLA!?



Not another one...


Sayla Mass was originally a communications officer and medic on the White Base, she became a pilot half-way through the story. Gradually, it is revealed that she is Char's long-lost sister, Artesia Som Deikun.

Keep in mind, I'm not the one coming up with these mind-warping ideas. This was made well before I was born and in a completely different part of the world.

Anyway, more acrobatics, it's shown that you can stand on the blades of the swords, so we can conclude that they aren't discount store versions of lightsabers. Speaking of lightsabers, Not-Char is randomly attacked by... uh...


...what Darth Vader would look like if only three bucks were used to make the costume and was given a baton. He tries to spar with two and fails miserably. It's revealed that buckethead is...


...the scratchy voiced kid from earlier. But he's not really a kid, but a robot! I hereby dub this character the Bob's Small Boy (BSB). Stick around later and I'll show you how to build your own! So Not-Kycilia KySaylia (pronounced Kiss-Say-Lee-Yah) tells BSB off and their costumes shift from recolored Zeon officers' uniforms to black versions of the Earth Federation's. As she makes her speech, BSB goes doggy-style and bites KySaylia's butt. BSB only did it because KySaylia he said he's a human and not a robot. A 'bot with denial issues.

There's an easy way of resolving this argument: give him a beer so he can refuel his power cells. If he throws up, he's a real boy! =)

Anyway, BSB throws a temper tantrum, demanding to be called a boy and -- WHAT!?


Okay, first the dude in the palette-swap normal suit.
Then, the Char recolor.
Then, the Kycilia recolor.
Then, we learn that the Kycilia recolor is also a Sayla recolor.
Then, the uniforms change from Zeon to Federation and back again depending on the animators' already-lax standards.
...but this tops 'em all: Char Aznable... is Amuro Ray!


Amuro Ray is the protagonist of the original Gundam anime from 1979. When a botched Zeon reconnaissance mission at Side 7 made the One Year War go hot again, Amuro climbed into the the cockpit of the prototype mobile suit RX-78-2 Gundam to fend off the attack so that the colony's civilians could escape to the White Base. Amuro's actions at Side 7 would see him pilot the Gundam for the remainder of the conflict, fighting several Zeon aces along the way with Char Aznable being his most famous. His accidental killing of Lalah Sune, a young woman loved by both Amuro and Char, shortly before the end of the war cemented the two aces as enemies for life.

In this movie, the protagonist isn't just the Red Comet, but his worst enemy as well. Wrap your heads around that!

Think this movie's insane so far? Guess what? There's still an hour to go! The only way this thing can get sillier is if Dozle Zabi shows up as the Hulk.

BSB keeps throwing a tantrum, which is thankfully interrupted by a distress signal. Wow, with all the shameless plagiarism I'd almost forgotten about the missing space-liner! ChAmuro (pronounced Sha-Mer-Row) and KySaylia head for their spacecraft and, for some reason, bring BSB along. Given the movie's track record, I half expected them to tell him to stay behind only for BSB to stow away in the trunk of their ship.

Also, their ship has two cockpits. It kinda makes think of a two-seat stroller at a grocery store or theme park that has two toy steering wheels. Which one controls the thing? I don't know.

ChAmuro, KySaylia, and (sadly for us) BSB take off. We get a reprise of the K-Disco song from the opening credits. ChAmuro opens his cockpit and flies to space-liner. Just as a reminder: you can breathe in space in this movie's universe. Of course, the sequence of him boarding the ship serves as filler so the film can make it over an hour in runtime.

ChAmuro can't find any passengers, but soon finds the fallen Obi-Dore Merlinwood. It seems that Obi-Dore was ChAmuro and KySaylia's teacher, but he's been dead for quite some time. Of course, this revelation brings ChAmuro down... hey, look on the bright side: at least he's where Youngblood's can't hurt him anymore.

Now all we need is Montgomery Scott playing "Amazing Grace".

With Obi-Dore's corpse set adrift in space and ChAmuro ready to avenge his teacher's defeat. The team returns to the USS Hasbro to break the bad news to their boss, who sends the team back out to find the villains.

"To heck with Thorin and his little group! With this battleship,
Smaug will be history and I won't have to miss Cannon this week!"

Eventually, the Hasbro picks up a distress signal and through a little recycled animation, the team is sent out again. The signal came from a planet of giant mushrooms where the space-liner's escape module landed.

The MODULE?

Only fifteen minutes ago did we see one, tiny javelin destroy it completely! Now it's grounded on this world, intact (with a new paint job, too!) and surrounded by centaurs. Given that the craft survived that, I doubt the centaurs' threats of vaporization would be effective either.

Some people try to escape, one dude lets his lips flap for two seconds until he decides to fight back against the man-horses. The prisoner revolt doesn't really get anywhere until one of the whips snap in two...


...and we learn that ChAmuro can change his proportions at will.

The centaurs are killed by the Famicom Fighter's whistling lasers. With the "riveting" fight between the Black Comet and the centaurs going on down below, BSB wants to go down an join in the fight. Yippee! Now he wants to be Scrappy-Doo!

ChAmuro's swordplay forces the centaurs to retreat, but to the delight of the incoherent crowds. He hops back on the Famicom Fighter (or as ChAmuro calls it the "Dragon", and for the sake of convenience, I will call it that from this point on to save from typing) and the team chases after the centaurs. Of course, the centaurs vanish into a green fog... but that doesn't stop Team Recolor! Thanks to his auto-chase system, the group is able to find where they went.

After a quick vision of Obi-Dore and filler imagery, the team passes a fleet of scale-model Zentraedi starships that combine into mines... and we see Not-Lotor and Betty again! Here we learn that, aside from having an axe that produces green teleport fog, she is a master ventriloquist, as she greet Team Recolor without moving her lips.

Also, it turns out that these mines... are not mines! They're weak lasers that shoot beams from their spikes that manage to cripple the Dragon, allowing Betty to take Team Recolor to... uh, the deep space version of Cloud City?

When ChAmuro refuses to bow to Betty, Not-Lotor tries to prove how weak the Black Comet is by swinging his sword at thin air before she tells him to knock it off. When KySaylia demands to know why she attacked the tourists we get an explanation:

Long ago there was an orange green planet that was more beautiful than Earth. One day, a sudden nuclear blast created a nuclear winter and flooded the land all at once, forcing the survivors to leave. When Betty's race discovered humans, they began kidnapping them for slave labor use in an effort to rebuilt their planet. The chief reason for them picking humans? Their intelligence.

Yeah, this is the species that still allows Family Guy to infect the airwaves and gave us Reality TV. CLEARLY a paragon of intelligence.

Of course, during the explanation, she calls BSB a boy... making him side with her. Yeah, Elroy Jetson's stunt double isn't just annoying... he's shallow, too.



Later, Team Recolor is thrown in a sciency-looking dungeon, where the prisoners threaten to go on strike if Betty doesn't release them from their slavery. Betty's response: disintegration!

This show of brutality is enough to quell the potential slave rebellion and make BSB betray Team Recolor... he claims his brain makes him have to obey those with great power (i.e. he's a dirty coward), but it's mostly because they refer to him as a robot. I would get upset about this, but BSB's personality and previous actions allow for a greater potential for him getting reduced to scrap by the end of the movie... and we only have thirty-two minutes to go. Pray for me.

Of course, his Benedict Arnoldism doesn't quite go the way he planned:

Not as humiliating enough for the likes of him, but it's a start.

It gets better, though: BSB throws his broom at Not-Lotor, who punts the little dink like a football:

Give the dude a raise!

Naturally, the entitled brat insults Not-Lotor behind his back... and gets overheard! He frantically tries to escape, finding the impounded Dragon in a hangar and bumps into...


..........

Movie... I was just kidding earlier. Are you so bankrupt on character designs that you'd use a joke for ideas?

Here we go again...


Vice Admiral Dozle Zabi was Commissar of the Zeon Space Attack Force. A very aggressive tactician, but also really dedicated to his family. Late in the war, when the Battle of Solomon turned against Zeon and his forces withdrew, he stayed behind in a little obscure mecha you probably didn't know about called the Big Zam and managed to put a big dent in the Federation fleet's numbers before the Gundam ultimately took it down. Even then, he still didn't quit: shooting the White Devil outside of the cockpit... with a regular machine gun! Don't believe me? Watch it for yourself!

Geez, five characters already. We're probably going to see a bearded Lalah Sune or a giant version of Kai Shiden's head playing a supercomputer at the rate we're going. Zeta Gundam wouldn't hit Japanese TV until the following year, so it's safe to conclude we won't see a Kamille Bidan recolor try to help ChAmuro and KySaylia fight Betty.

Back on track (for the rest of the movie... I hope), BSB lies to the Jolly Green Dozle (JGD), claiming he was playing around and was scolded for being noisy. JGD buys his alibi and agrees to be his brother... I guess he was still kinda hurting after the news of Green Garma's failed kamikaze.

They get into a big argument about which one is older, leading BSB to declare himself JGD's father... the scene's as pointless as a broken pencil. And I just noticed something during this whole thing, BSB acknowledges that he's a robot. So that means his demands to be called a boy was all an act and he handed Team Recolor over to Betty on purpose?

KYAAAAAH!!

Speaking of Team Recolor, there's one guy who's sick and dying in the dungeon. ChAmuro calls out to JGD to come take a look at the poor guy... the dying man gets a lashing instead. ChAmuro won't stand for JGD's Roots reenactment and fights him against a background that stays the same half the time. ChAmuro attempts to punch the giant in the gut, but hurts his hand and JGD punches the Black Comet so hard that he lands on the air against a blurry wall.

KySaylia joins the fray and kicks JGD in the face, only to be foiled by the guy's whip. All seems lost for Team Recolor when Not-Lotor shows up.

Betty wants to watch a gladiatorial exhibition with her best soldiers and wants a slave to volunteer to enter the fight and get himself killed. When nobody steps forward, he threatens pick an unlucky contestant... but eventually ChAmuro agrees to fight and satisfies Not-Lotor's sadism by punching out the other two options.



They go to the arena, where ChAmuro is back in the Zeon duds and KySaylia is bound to a stake behind him for some reason.

Betty promises that if ChAmuro wins, the slaves will be freed and the games will be outlawed. They were held only thirteen times, as one of Betty's soldiers tells BSB, but no one has ever won. The gate opens and... we learn that this story is in the Marvel universe.


As ChAmuro whips these Daredevil villains' sorry butts, BSB starts supporting Team Recolor again. Are we supposed to like this guy? If so, I never did.

ChAmuro wins, but Betty (surprise!) goes back on her word.

Things look grim when the Dragon shows up to blast Betty's arena guards with laser fire. The whole thing was a flimsy ruse: BSB had this planned from the start. Whoop-dee-doo. I'll take Nami's phony betrayal on One Piece over BSB's, thank you very much. It may redeem him marginally, but he's still an annoying piece of junk.

Betty panics and sends out an army of Not-Lotor clones to save her endangered kingdom. Team Recolor radios the Hasbro to come help. The Hasbro sets sail for Deep-Space Cloud City and her crew assumes battlestations while the K-Disco theme plays once more! The vessel arrives just in the nick of time to save the Dragon.

With her kingdom falling apart round her ears, Betty cries out to her gods for courage... but the gods have something different in mind: a falling pillar that comes less than a yard away from crushing her. Ha!

The Hasbro lands to rescue the slaves and ChAmuro rushes into the burning ruins to find Betty while screaming corny lines about "righteousness will always triumph over evil" and stuff like that. Takes out a centaur and kills a Not-Lotor clone. We don't actually SEE the clone die, the editing is really screwy here.

ChAmuro soon confronts Betty, but it isn't long before Not-Lotor jumps in and is killed by "the Captain's immense power".

At the point of a sword, ChAmuro orders Betty to surrender because there's going to be a big explosion soon... wait, was Not-Lotor a load-bearing boss from a game? The kind that destroys the building you're in when you beat it? I don't remember anyone setting Betty's castle up for sabotage. I don't know!

All looks hopeless for Betty when...

OH YEEEAH!!

JGD shows up and effortlessly subdues ChAmuro again... but he gets defeated when KySaylia and BSB show up out of the blue and run him over with the Dragon. He explodes, naturally. Doesn't even compete with how the real one went out.

ChAmuro catches up with Betty in the bowels of Mt. Doom, where she has the discretion to use her lasers to risk a cave-in. They eventually grapple, causing Betty to drop her axe into a pit of magma. The cavern starts to rumble, Betty tells ChAmuro that there's going to be an explosion (something ChAmuro announced earlier, but probably forgot about due to the fight with JGD) and SLOWLY falls off a ledge into magma below her.

ChAmuro gets trapped trying to escape and almost falls into magma himself. Fortunately, he falls as slowly as Betty, allowing enough time for KySaylia drops a line to save him. Team Recolor escapes from Deep-Space Cloud City as it explodes. Yes. It seems that a friggin' space station needed a system of magma in it!

They fly away, K-Disco plays again, movie's over.

Thank goodness we stopped before they showed a Gouf with Haro as its head...


FINAL THOUGHTS

This movie was painfully stupid. I guess the South Korean animators making all those crappy giant mecha movies like Space Thunder Kids and Raiders of [the] Galaxy were starting to catch onto their plagiarism of the Japanese shows that their government banned and decided to throw a curveball! Thought Sonic and pals were big victims of recoloring? Well, guess what? It happened to Gundam seven years before Sonic was even a thing! Only here, these weren't twelve-year-olds on DeviantArt using screencaps and stolen fan art, these were actual animators.

The plot made no sense and actors sounded like they'd woken up at 5:00 AM hungover and just decided to wing it (I can't be sure if ChAmuro's supposed to be a mix of Australian and Cajun or just a bored Ringo Starr). Audio issues leave me wondering what the extras are saying, the continuity reminds me of The Phantom Menace, and we are treated to one of the most ANNOYING sidekicks this side of the live-action Spritle. It's a pity he survived the film... eh, I'll say his warranty expired and he had to be recycled.


The original title of this movie in South Korea was Space Black Knight. It didn't even NEED a misleading cover, it was upfront about what it was knocking off! And would you believe that the Captain of Cosmos dub WASN'T the first time this monstrosity was seen in the English-speaking world?


Nope! There was an earlier dub of it called Johnny Destiny, Space Ninja! Nothing is known about this version at all. If you try to find out anything about it, all I can say is "good luck". (Hey, we came back to Mr. Lai's ninja fetish with this!)

At the end of the next episode previews in 2001 English dub of Mobile Suit Gundam, the tagline is "Who will survive?" After watching this movie in full, I can safely say that I did. The others who dare to sit through the brainless misadventures of ChAmuro and KySaylia, I can't guarantee anything.


I'm DLAbaoaqu. Full-on!


  • Space Black Knight/Captain of Cosmos/Johnny Destiny, Space Ninja (1984) and Space Thunder Kids (1983) are property of Joseph Lai and IFD Films
  • Mobile Suit Gundam (1979) is property of Yoshiyuki Tomino and Sunrise
  • The Jetsons (1962) is property of Time Warner
  • Speed Racer (1967) is property of Tatsunoko Productions
  • Astro Boy (1963, 1980) is property of the Tezuka Productions




AND NOW, BECAUSE I LOVE YOU, INSTRUCTIONS FOR BUILDING YOUR OWN BSB!