Thursday, March 29, 2012

"The Iron Superman" - Roboter der Sterne

I've been gratified by the reaction to Monday's entry on the assorted Chinese and Thai films based on Japanese superheroes. As it turns out, I've been doing more research on the matter. By playing "follow the links", and a healthy use of translator programs, I have been scouring the Chinese and Thai Wikipedias for more information. Obviously, they are only as good as their users, but I tend to trust their info on these movies more than the English or Japanese sites. What I have learned has reinforced some of my conclusions and forced me to rethink others. That's right, this odyssey is far from over! When I get all of this up on the blog, I'll go back and add links to these follow-up entries to the earlier ones that prompted this.

Let's begin with a film that I discussed relatively little in the prior entry: ROBOTER DER STERNE. Or should that be MAZINGER-Z: EL ROBOT DE LAS ESTRELLAS? It seems to be the most commonplace of these films, oddly enough. Even more oddly, it also appears to be the first of its kind. That's right, the first Chinese/Japanese superhero film isn't the Super Riders or MARS MEN, but rather this adaptation of SUPER ROBOT MACH BARON. It premiered on July 21, 1975, according to the addendum on the entry for SUPER RIDERS WITH THE DEVIL. And don't worry, we'll be getting back to the Super Riders.

That addendum is very instructive, as it makes some curious distinctions without any notice. For one, this movie apparently was produced in Hong Kong rather than Taiwan. For another, if all the dates are correct on the Chinese Wikipedia, ROBOTER DER STERNE is not only the first Chinese/Japanese superhero film, but it predates the Shaw Brothers' INFRA-MAN, too! INFRA-MAN (中國超人) didn't come out in Hong Kong until August 1, 1975. All the other "hybrid" films come even later. Clearly, something was in the air at the time.

Sadly, there does not appear to be much else available about ROBOTER DER STERNE. A film company named 長弓電影公司 is given, and the translation I got was "Longbow Film Company." Anybody? Now, I can tell you that the original Chinese title of 鐵超人 means "Iron Superman." The choice to use the term 鐵超人 is very telling, since Ultraman had already been dubbed 超人 ("Superman") and Kamen Rider was 幪面超人 ("Masked Superman"). Infra-Man, as you may have noticed earlier, is 中國超人 ("Chinese Superman"). Like I said, something in the air.

Let's take a look at this movie, in both of its known Western incarnations.

Here's a trailer for ROBOTER DER STERNE:

And here's some of MAZINGER-Z: EL ROBOT DE LAS ESTRELLAS. No connection existed to Go Nagai's MAZINGER Z in the original MACH BARON, and I'd be unsurprised to learn there was none in the Chinese version either. You can hear the Chinese theme song near the end of the video.


  1. Hello, Chris. From what I found doing some research, this movie was just edited footage from Mach Baron, dubbed to make it look like a real Mazinger film. There is no new footage filmed for this movie.

  2. The German DVD of Roboter Der Sterne comes with comparison shots that seem to indicate the Japanese cast was replaced with a Chinese cast. Having never seen an episode of Mach Baron, I can't confirm this. However, I have no trouble believing there is no new robot footage.