Thursday, 3 April 2014

Yak Wat Jang wu Jumbo A

Director: various, cobbled together by someone on a Friday afternoon
Writer: as above
Producer: as above
Cast: Naoki Tachibana and a bunch of guys in rubber suits
Year of release: difficult to tell, probably late 1990s
Country: Thailand/Japan
Reviewed from: Thai VCD

When I invested in a VCD of this Thai film (aka Yak Wat Jang Vs Jumborg Ace, Yuk Wud Jaeng vs Jumbo A and many other varient spellings) I expected it to be an undubbed, slightly different edit of the Tsuburaya-produced, Thai/Japanese co-production which I had previously reviewed in its Italian incarnation as Mars Men. In fact, this is an almost entirely different film, sharing probably no more than 20 minutes out of its 80-minute running time.

What we have here is a mishmash of footage from the original Yak Wat Jang Vs Jumborg Ace, footage from the Jumborg Ace/Jumbo A television series (which ran for 50 episodes from 17th January to 29th December 1973), and newly shot footage. It is edited together so haphazardly, with characters appearing and disappearing at random, that it’s debatable whether there is in fact supposed to be a single narrative thread here or whether it’s just a compilation of Jumborg Ace’s greatest fights. I’ll try and sum up what happens, but be warned, this is a lo-o-o-ong summary!

We open on Earth with Dr Suriya and his wife Nipha from the Protective Attack Team exploring a Thai temple using their geiger counter. They don’t find anything but do stop to look at a giant statue of Yak Wat Jang. An alien then sends a bunch of cyborg-monsters down to earth and from five minutes in we have unfettered, unexplained, massive destruction of property by giant kaiju, which is frankly what we’re paying to see here.

In their control centre are a team of five people in silver suits who are possibly meant to be a new incarnation of the PAT. There’s a couple, a young boy (with a shaved head) and two extremely camp and unfunny comic relief characters, one with dark skin and red hair, the other very tall.

Cut to golden-haired Jump Killer and spiky-shouldered Antigone, two evil Martian types in their flying saucer who were the principal villains in Mars Men (one difference is that Jump Killer is female here). They watch some TV footage of Thailand.

A Cessna light aircraft is caught up in the big kaiju destruction and goes spinning into a blob of green light. When the pilot Naoki Tachibana (played by... Naoki Tachibana!) comes to, he is in a misty limbo, being addressed by an Ultraman-style character who shows him the mighty cyborg Jumbo A which can turn into his plane. Then he’s suddenly back in his plane so he tries transforming.

The alien we saw earlier sends a robot double of Jumbo A against our hero so we get to see the giant cyborg fight himself, or at least a version of himself with detachable flying forearms. He defeats the evil doppelganger by turning into an animated green streak which decapitates it.

Then we get the creation sequence of Jumborg Nine. The Ultraman-style character is seen again, this time giving Naoki the power to create a giant, world-saving cyborg out of, not a Cessna, but a Mini! The Italian Job was never like this... We then get a brief shot of the two Jumborgs fighting each other.

Jumborg/Jumbo Nine (wasn’t there a pop hit called ‘Jumbo Number Nine?’ oh, please yourselves) fights the alien we saw earlier (who is now giant) and a goofy muppet monster. He blasts the monster’s head and arms off with a fireball and stabs the alien with a sword from a slot in his chest; the alien collapses and spurts blood from his mouth.

Back in the New PAT’s control centre (the location of which is never hinted at), a strange, dark brown idol of an old man frightens the two camp characters, though it’s not clear why. This is the same character who battled Yak Wat Jang at the end of the Thai demon’s first cinematic appearance, Tah Tien, although I still don’t know who he is. Outside, there are a couple more Jumbo vs monster fights.

At 28 minutes in, we get the first bit of footage recognisable from Mars Men, as Dr Suriya and Nipha put on silver protection suits and helmets - complete with face-plates which steam up as the poor actors try and breathe - and explore some caves. There they spot Antigone fighting a three-headed dragon (not Ghidorah or even a rip-off of same) with his glowing sword - footage which was missing from Mars Men, possibly wisely given the awful dragon costume. Antigone takes from the cave wall a massive crystal, the solar eclipse diamond, which causes uncontrolled extreme weather conditions to suddenly hit the planet.

As a giant Antigone trashes the city, the boy and two camp blokes from the New PAT send the old man idol to become giant size and fight him, with all the traditional collateral damage that ensues.

Elsewhere in the city, the appearance of the Martians’ flying saucer causes stock footage panic. The Mini that can turn into Jumbo Nine (the Jum-Car or Jum-Z) stops and out get Naoki and Lin, the little kid from the original PAT who is (I think) Nipha’s little brother. A white-wigged woman dressed in black beams down from the saucer and says something to the crowd, before turning into the giant Jump Killer and trashing nearby buildings. Back in the control centre, the five members of the New PAT and the old man idol watch this happening.

Now we’re 47 minutes in, more than halfway through, and we get another bit of footage from the original film, as PAT aircraft blast at a giant laser which Jump Killer has set up on the Moon, using the solar eclipse diamond, to blast Earth. One of the craft crashes. At the old control centre, Naoki dashes off to his Cessna to create Jumbo A and other members of the team blast off in the, um, aircraft which we’ve just seen them piloting to the Moon. Hmm...

In the New PAT control centre, a doll of Yak Wat Jang which we saw earlier being waved about is made life-size somehow, then becomes giant and flies off, but this is new footage, vastly inferior to the creation scene in Mars Men (imagine - something actually being inferior to Mars Men!). Meanwhile, Jumbo A straps himself onto a space rocket to launch himself at the Moon, where he proceeds to fight Jump Killer and Antigone.

The second disc kicks off, 53 minutes in, with footage from the original movie of Yak Wat Jang and Jumbo A fighting each other on the Moon before realising their mistake and teaming up to battle Jump Killer and Antigone, plus a subplot of one of the PAT craft coming to rescue the downed ship. One thing that is very noticeable is that throughout the fights the giants never shut up. It seems you can never have just action, the character must always be saying something like, “Ah, Jumbo A! I will defeat you! You are no match for me! And then I will defeat Yak Wat Jang too! Hahahahaha!” and, “No, you will never defeat me! For I am Jumbo A!” etc.

After our two heroes defeat Antigone, Yak Wat Jang wanders off into a cloud of purple smoke, leaving Jumbo A to fight Jump Killer.

Next up is the most extraordinary scene of all, lifted from the old TV series. Jump Killer is back on Earth and is human-sized (continuity be damned!). She and three of her anonymous alien goons fight Naoki, who gets out of his Mini but obviously doesn’t think to turn it into Jumbo Nine and just squash her. Captured, he is strung up from a scaffold by his feet, while other members of the old PAT, even little Lin, are strapped up around him - crucified! Even by the outrĂ© standards of this ‘film’, this is an incredible scene, made all the more memorable by the soundtrack which eschews the normal vocal, orchestral pomposity (“Yak! Yak! Yak! Yak Wat Jang!”) for a lone trumpet. This plaintive music gives the scene the air of a spaghetti western, an idea exacerbated by numerous atmospheric shots of crows perched on the scaffolds and crucifixes. Sadly this can’t last long, as the PAT ship returns from the Moon, causing Jump Killer to grow giant and try to swat it out of the sky.

This is followed by inexplicable footage of Jump Killer on Mars looking at the graves of Antigone and two other Martians, Betagone and Satangone.

Jumbo A appears and fights her, then Jumbo Nine appears and fights her, but not both together because these are from two separate episodes it seems. She counters by transforming into a super-scary version of herself, complete with horns. Jumbo Nine grabs an enormous shard of crystal and rams it straight through Jump Killer’s stomach, causing an eruption of green blood and killing her.

Then, because continuity is for wimps, Jump Killer is fine and is setting two monsters against Jumbo A, the two who fought him on the Moon in Mars Men but we now seem to be on Earth (possibly, some of the time) because there is vegetation on the set. Defeated, Jumbo A lies on the floor but - hooray! - here comes Yak Wat Jang out of his cloud of smoke to kick Jump Killer’s arse! (All this with occasional cutaways to the New PAT team in their control centre, following the action on video screens.)

Jumbo A recovers and helps Yak Wat Jang defeat the monsters but Jump Killer disappears. The smoky atmosphere clears and the sun shines through on our planet. Huzzah!

But the solar eclipse diamond-powered laser is still on the Moon, blasting at Earth and causing millions of dollars of stock footage destruction. Jump Killer and Antigone appear on the Moon in their flying saucer but Yak Wat Jang and Jumbo A turn up to fight them, which they do by deflecting the laser onto each villain in turn, causing them to catch fire and then explode. Our two giant heroes destroy the laser, take the diamond, thank each other and fly back home to Earth.

Well, what the bloody hell was all that about? Here’s what I can determine: there are two Protective Attack Teams, the old 1970s lot which included Dr Suriya, Nipha and Lin and had access to the Jum-Cessna and the Jum-Car, and a 1990s version with two camp, irritating twats. Jump Killer is very much the main villain, or rather villainess, and has at least two other forms of herself into which she can transform. When I originally posted my Mars Men review I had Jump Killer and Antigone (aka AnchigonĂ©) mixed up but I have now corrected this. Jumbo A, who was described in Mars Men as ‘il gigante robot Americano’ is very definitely Japanese here as he can be heard saying “Arigato” and “Sayonara” at the end. That’s about it.

Although the main plot of the original film - Antigone’s theft of the diamond from Earth and its use in a giant Moon-based laser - is still just about visible, it is mixed up with way too much footage from the TV series to make any sense. Characters die hideously and then are fine (and somewhere else) a moment later. And the inserted footage of the crappy new version of PAT is just horrible, especially their two gibbering ‘comic relief’ characters.

Actor Naoki Tachibana was also in a TV series called Kagestar and allegedly was imprisoned for murder in 1985! There are no on-screen credits on this movie.

I’m not fond of recommending bootlegs, but I have to say that if you only want one film of a giant Ultraman-esque cyborg hero teaming up with an enormous living Thai stone idol to defeat giant Martians - and it’s difficult to see who would want two - then you’re better off getting Mars Men, even with its Italian dubbing. I can also recommend the two other Tsuburaya-produced Thai kaiju movies Hanuman vs 7 Ultraman and Hanuman vs 5 Kamen Rider. This VCD on the Tiga label is only of interest as a sort of Jumborg Ace sampler.

MJS rating: D


  1. Well, as for the cave exploration scene, the suits in the Thai version have these two circular thingies in the head area, a la Mickey Mouse. In the Taiwanese version, they don't so I guess it's also newly-shot material.

    1. Ouch, I have stated what you had already implied.

      Anyways, the final bits of the crucification scene are also featured in "Mars Men".