Seen in Jeonju

Robot Taekwon V Meets the Golden Wing (1978)

17th August 2010

robot taekwonWe have been having a lot of rain. It has been raining here in Samrye,outside of Jeonju, everyday, stopping and restarting a few hours later. Sometimes the rains have been quite heavy and there has been a lot of damage locally to bridges, crops, roads and houses. Last night, there was a loud crash as, right outside my home, a large tree broke and fell. Fortunately, there was no damage, just a blocked driveway, but it hasn’t been the best weather for doing things outside. Staying in means I have more time to watch DVDs. I was going to watch Midnight Ballad of Ghost Theater for a review that I have been commissioned to write, but the student boarder in my house asked if he could pick a different movie. He had just finished three weeks of summer session graduate classes and said he wanted to see some of the old animation movies I own. There are several of these that I have not seen yet, so I agreed.

He selected Robot Taekwon V Meets the Golden Wing circa 1978. The film marks the fourth chronological film of Robot Taekwon V following his first appearance in 1976 and his subsequent films Robot Taekwon V 2: Battle in Space and Robot Taekwon V 3: Undersea Mission. Back in 2003 (!) I wrote about the Robot Taekwon V box set released by Bitwin. That review, which provides some character information that might prove useful when reading this review is on the main site of Koreanfilm.ORG that hosts my blog. It can be read here. That was my first experience with the giant robot that is a household name in Korea. Since that time, a digitally enhanced DVD of the original 1976 film has been released with English subtitles, which has potentially introduced the character to a wider audience although viewers in the United States may have already been introduced to him in their childhoods as Voltar the Invincible.

 The Golden Wing was a character whose name I knew from reading about Korean animation, but whom I had not seen on screen before. This movie was the second, and I believe final, appearance of the character. Originally appearing in the Kid’s Chosun Newspaper, The Golden Wing’s first film—The Golden Wing 1-2-3—was directed by Robot Taekwon V’s creator, Kim Cheong-ki and opened in January 1978. Robot Taekwon V Meets the Golden Wing followed this release by just 6 months. Unfortunately, the flashbacks provided in the sequel do not provide much character information and I was forced to search through the internet and books to find out more. Most confusing are the names. There are two characters referred to as The Golden Wing. The first is the giant blue and red robot. It has not wings of any color but does have gold fins on its helmet. It is operated by a man named Deuk-shim—an overweight man with the comic quirk of only thinking about eating. The second character who answers to the name of The Golden Wing is Heon. Mild-mannered and considered a coward by people who know him, Heon usually slips away when danger strikes. However, upon leaping into the air and completing a summersault, meek Heon was transformed into the super-powerful Golden Wing—or more accurately—Golden Wing 1. With powers of flight, speed and strength and armed with a halberd that discharges a beam of force, this Golden Wing is strong enough to tackle any threat. In his origin film, The Golden Wing 1-2-3, there are two other characters in similar costumes who presumably are Golden Wing 2 and Golden Wing 3, but they make no appearance here.

 The movie opens with a tale from the Bible which had me worried immediately. If you ever sat through Kim Cheong-ki’s animated David and Goliath like I had, then you would understand. Fortunately, the story of the Tower of Babel has its ending changed somewhat as aliens take over the remains of the tower and make it their secret headquarters to prepare for an invasion of Earth. It takes a long time to travel between the stars and over the centuries, the aliens have killed any who approached their lair to preserve the secret. But human technology has advanced. Satellite images show a gigantic bird-like object dubbed the Thunder Bird destroying jets flying over the area. Both Robot Taekwon V and the Golden Wing teams are called in to discover what is going on and deal with the situation. When the two groups meet, the less mature members speculate which robot would win in a fight. Little do they realize, that question will be decisively answered before the end of the movie. Neither do they realize their enemy is already plotting against them.

 The aliens have four agents on Earth. Our heroes are aware of the mighty Thunder Bird, but they know nothing of their other opponents. These are comprised of the human-sized shape-shifter Mutant (pictured on the lower right of the poster), the ponderous Titan (middle-left with Thunder Bird) with density changing powers and the phallic-shaped super computer (upper right) that controls them all and streams a steady signal through space, guiding the invading forces towards our planet. Mutant changes into the form of Golden Wing 1 and attacks Hoon, the chief operator of the Taekwon V robot, while he is meditating. Hoon may have more experience and superior fighting skills, but they prove useless as a defense against the ray of force is emitted from Golden Wing’s weapon. After severely beating Hoon, Mutant takes his form and proceeds to steal Robot Taekwon V. He uses it to attack the headquarters of Team Golden Wing and crushes their buildings to rubble under the robot’s massive feet.

His plan to sow animosity between the two teams fails because of the unexpected appearance of Golden Wing 1. Mutant is saved from being captured by the arrival of the Thunder Bird which snatches him up to return him to the Tower of Babel. However, this does allow the robot teams to track their enemies back to their lair where the battle truly begins. Hoon and Yeong-hee operate Robot Taekwon V very effectively. Tincan Robot, aka Yeong-hee’s little brother with a kettle on his head, handles himself well using his pepper spray against both Mutant and, surprisingly, Titan. Golden Wing 1 flies in for rescues when needed and is instrumental in ending the fight when he goes up alone against the super-computer. And Deuk-shim, in the Golden Wing Robot, dies. Wait, what?

 Yes, you read that right. His giant robot proved to be ineffectual against the threats he was up against. Maybe half the problem was that he was trying to eat an apple during the first half of the fight. However, even when he is actually concentrating on what’s going on, he is useless. He attempts to save Robot Taekwon V from being crushed under the weight of Titan but it takes Tincan Cheol throwing chili powder in the monster’s eye to succeed. He grabs Titan from behind to hold him for his allies to hit, forgetting the amphorous nature of the creature. It easily reverses the hold and squeezes literally flattening the robots mid-section. Deuk-shim shouts at Taekwon V not to be concerned about him and open fire on Titan. Hoon and Yeong-hee agree and the resulting explosion of the Golden Wing Robot kills the monster as well as its driver.

 As usual, the early animated films are fun to watch. Robot Taekwon V still had the look, and more importantly, the feeling of his earlier appearances. References were made to characters and events from earlier movies adding a sense of continuity. Unfortunately, it does not appear that Golden Wing continued. Instead, animators in the seventies and eighties introduced a wide variety of other robots and the teams that drove them. They are for posts at a future date.

 Robot Taekwon V Meets Golden Wing is on DVD however it does not have English subtitles. Just for fun, click the following link (allowing a couple of seconds for it to load) and you can watch and hear the theme songs for both of the titular robots. Click here to watch the clip.

One Response to “Robot Taekwon V Meets the Golden Wing (1978)”

  1. Seen in Jeonju » Blog Archive » Golden Wing 1,2,3 (1978) Says:

    [...] in August, I had written a review of Robot Taekwon V Meets the Golden Wing. There is no doubt that animated film was given a release because of the popularity of the Robot [...]