Continuing our ongoing quest to sort out the assorted Chinese and Thai permutations of Japanese superheroes, today we return our attention to MARS MEN. As you may recall, it was an English language poster for that film which started this off in the first place. Confusingly, the poster came from Japan's Shochiku Company. That indicated the possibility that they were the ones who distributed the film abroad, possibly on behalf of Tsuburaya Productions.
First, we need to back up and consider the Thai version of this movie for a moment. To do this, it's helpful to consult the Thai Wikipedia entry for it, which is under its original title ยักษ์วัดแจ้งพบจัมโบ้เอ. As best I can tell, ยักษ์วัดแจ้งพบจัมโบ้เอ is literally "Yak Wat Jang Wu Jumbo A" (spelling varies). However, the English name for that stone idol seems to be "Giant" or "Titan". The Japanese name for the movie (despite it never getting released in Japan) is ジャンボーグA＆ジャイアント ("Jumborg Ace and Giant"), while the Thai translation is given as "Titan and Jumbo A".
Regardless of what you call it, the Thai Wikipedia gives a premiere of March 16, 1974 for this movie. That's sort of intriguing, since that means it precedes both Chaiyo's Ultra and Rider films by months. Other sources list "April 1974", but the fact remains that the Jumborg Ace film came out before the more familiar 6 Ultra Brothers film by six months. Kinda surprising, if you ask me.
I found a clip from ยักษ์วัดแจ้งพบจัมโบ้เอ on Youtube that is subtitled for some reason. Though I don't think I still own a copy of MARS MEN, I can tell you that is definitely not a part of it. Believe me, I would remember. This clip is notable for having the worst English subtitles I have ever seen. Both David McRobie and Igadevil found this claim dubious until they watched the clip. See what you think.
If you still have functioning brain cells after that (and I understand if you don't), we'll proceed.
There is helpful information on MARS MEN at the end of the Chinese entry for SUPER RIDERS WITH THE DEVIL, just like there was for ROBOTER DER STERNE. If anything, this sub-section is slightly more helpful than the one on the Mach Baron movie. It tells us that MARS MEN (literally 火星人 in Chinese) was released July 4, 1976 and ran 94 minutes. It also lists the production company for it as 星華電影事業（香港）有限公司 (Star Chinese Film Industry (Hong Kong) Co., Ltd.?) and the releasing company as 太子電影事業有限公司 (Prince Film Industry Co., Ltd.?).
Some things jump out at me from this information. One, MARS MEN came out over two years after "Titan and Jumbo A". This blows a hole in my theory that it was part of an exchange between Chaiyo and the Taiwanese film company. An even bigger hole is created by the revelation that MARS MEN is also of Hong Kong origins, just like ROBOTER DER STERNE! However, I should point out that the Hong Kong company responsible for producing MARS MEN has a name that is suspiciously similar to the Taiwanese company responsible for the Super Rider movies. The presence of one of the Super Riders as the male lead does nothing to dispel the notion that something is going on here.
My best guess at this point is that MARS MEN was an arrangement with Tsuburaya Productions rather than Chaiyo. The existence of the Shochiku poster tips my inclination in that direction. The sizable gap between Thai and Chinese versions is another point. Tsuburaya had to know that Chaiyo's movies were not going to fly outside of Thailand and it took a HUGE demand for Ultra product for 6 ULTRABROTHERS VS. THE MONSTER ARMY to even get released in Japan 5 years after the fact. As for why Tsubraya attempted something with MARS MEN, that will likely remain a mystery for the time being. We can only surmise it wasn't considered a success, since a similar makeover for 6 ULTRABROTHERS never happened.
Finally, for the sake of completeness, I wanted to include a little background on a few folks involved with MARS MEN. This was complicated slightly by the fact that the movie is missing from the HKMDB, which was the resource I was using. However, I did some cutting and pasting and put together this li'l list.
DIRECTED BY: Chan Huang-Man
(credited as "Chen Hong Mein" on poster; while having his fair share of directorial credits, he seems to be primarily an editor. For this film, that makes perfect sense.)
Man-Kong-Lung ("Wen Chiang Loon" on poster)
Wong Bo-Yuk ("Wang Pao Yu" on poster)
Yeh Hsiao-Yee ("Yeh Shao Ye" on poster)
PRODUCED BY: Fu Ching-Wa
Our next entry on this journey will fill you in on the films that probably interest you the most. There will be answers, but paradoxically, even more questions, too!
6 months ago