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Space Warriors 2000: The Year of the Monkey Wrench

Space Warriors 2000: The Year of the Monkey Wrench

1985, Dirs. Sompote Sands, Marc Smith



Having taken upon myself the burdens of being a B reviewer, I should have a concrete opinion about any movie I come across. But this one really has me completely mystified. First, I'll admit that I'm not a huge Ultraman fan. My specialty is Godzilla, and there's already too much kaiju clogging my brain for me to learn all about the umpteen Ultramen and all their adventures. So therefore, my confusion regarding this film could stem from my relative Ultraman ignorance. I did, however, do extensive web research on Ultraman and could find no mention of this film on any of the dozens of Ultraman sites (even the incredibly useful Casual Otaku, where I got these pictures from). Even the IMDB didn't tell me anything I already didn't know.

So throughout the film I kept trying to figure out what exactly I was watching. I thought it might be a children's movie, due to the goofy monster characterizations. I thought that it was an extremely low budget kaiju due to the almost constant monster fights. Then, I was convinced beyond any shadow of a doubt that I was watching a ballet. Yup, a ballet. One scene hammered it home for me - five giant monsters, running around in synchronized formation, trashing a city. Even occasional closeups of their feet! Then the Ultramen show up and flip and cartwheel all over the place. All this done to a soundtrack that is innapropriate to giant monster stomping but strangely appropriate for dance, and I was certain. Then the thought occured to me that what I was watching was kaiju's answer to What's Up, Tigerlily?, the Woody Allen flick that dubbed a Japanese spy film with unrelated English dialogue.

Some of the incoherence could be chalked up to the fact that there are two directors credited with this. The first, Sompote Sands, is designated as "oriental", indicating that he (or she?) is responsible for the original production. The second, Marc Smith, is designated as "accidental", a play on the word occidental, indicating that he's the American responsible for turning it into a muddled hour and a half of barely related events. The cast listing makes it seem as if Mr. Smith fancies himself a comedian.

Ultramen I - XI: There are quite a few Ultramen in this film, but the most that appear on screen at any given time is six.

Mothra: Mothra is nowhere to be found.

Godzelda: Godzilla is not in this film, nor is Princess Zelda. (Neither is God, for that matter.) But there is a monster who could be a modified Godzilla outfit, if modified consists of sticking feathers all over the costume and making it into flamboyantly Gayzilla. We also get Hanuman, sort of an Indian deity type thing, and "a bunch if Japanese stuntmen whose names we could not read".

Space Warriors Graduating Class 2000.

The plot just seems to imply that an Ultraman's work is never done. Oh yeah, and that "Good must triumph over evil". They're pretty big on that. Anyway, a British businessman buys an Ultraman toy for his son. When the toy maker realizes it has been sold, he tells his wife about the origin of the toy. Here's another important aspect of the plot: people in Ultraman movies take everything for face value. The toymaker tells his wife that the Ultraman toy was given to him by "more than a man". Actually it's less than a man, because all we see is an arm holding said toy aloft. The toy was to remain there until someone "pure of heart" came along and bought it. When the boy puts it on his nightstand, the Ultraman tells him that he is the "pure of heart" one and that he must help insure that "good triumph over evil". Then an hour of monster fights where monsters say things like "I'm the meanest monster in monster land!" We also learn that giant monsters explode and that all monsters and Ultramen speak with a lot of reverb. Then we're in a department store where a small monster that looks like Cookie Monster exploded falls asleep. Then the sun is moving too close to the earth and three guys steal the head of a religious idol. Hanuman takes care of both issues, then gets his ass kicked by five monsters. Ultramen show up and save the day. Then the kid wakes up, and the Ultradoll has flown out the window.

Ultraman poaching reached an all-time high after this film.

IN CLOSING: I'm not sure how to go about evaluating this. As much as I like giant monsters fighting, I also like those minor details such as plot and storylines. The fights are fast paced with plenty of flipping, wrestling, and exploding, but ultimately not enough to keep me riveted throughout. Even the worst of the Godzilla flicks had a coherent plot. If you're seeking an introduction to kaiju or to Ultraman, this ain't it. If you can ignore the absence of plot coherence and can focus on monster fights, more power to ya. But based on the fact that I'm still not completely sure what I just spent so much time on, I give it two dees.

ADDENDUM - 12/21

Keith over at Teleport City had this to say about the origins of Space Warriors:

SPACE WARRIORS 2000 actually takes scenes from several Ultraman movies, including 6 Ultra Brothers, Ultraman Zoffy, and the Ultraman Story. It adds the "funny" dubbing. I'm not really sure who was responsible for it -- I've heard Brits or South Africans. It does tend to pop up among video traders from time to time, so someone still has copies of it.