Seen in Jeonju

Golden Wing 1,2,3 (1978)

11th December 2010

golden wingBack in August, I had written a review of Robot Taekwon V Meets the Golden Wing. There is no doubt that the team-up project was given the go-ahead because of the popularity of the Robot Taekwon V character, but the movie left me with a lot of questions about the Golden Wing and his supporting cast. It was the Golden Wing’s second film appearance and he was a regular feature in a newspaper’s comic section at that time, so people watching his team-up with Robot Taekwon V would have already had all the answers. I did not have that advantage. Why was the costumed hero dressed in red called Golden Wing Number 1 and the giant robot called Golden Wing Number 3? Where was Number 2? One of the two posters available for this film (shown later in this review) depicts two people dressed similarly to Golden Wing No. 1, who are they? Then in mid-November this year, Golden Wing 1,2,3 was released on DVD. This movie answers all the questions I had, but left me with one more. Why wasn’t The Golden Wing more popular?  I found his story to be at least as interesting as Taekwon V’s and his supporting cast more interesting that the latter’s.

golden wing original posterThe movie starts with a blue-skinned alien driving a sports car trying to outrun a pursuing UFO. The small spacecraft eventually forces him off the road and leaves him to die in the fiery wreck. However, the attempted murder did not go unnoticed. Heon was driving his scooter in the nearby hills and witnessed the attack. He rushes to the driver’s assistance only to recoil in horror when he realizes the being is not human. The alien reveals his name to be Hinsem and convinces Heon to take him to his secret lair hidden behind a nearby waterfall. Inside the cave is an advanced lab. Hinsem’s badly injured body disappears and is mind is absorbed into a device that will keep him alive for a little longer, but he is still dying. He begs Heon to help find and rescue his daughter, Mirinae, who was captured by a criminal from his homeworld named Karlson. In return, he grants Heon superpowers although he warns him the powers can only be summoned when his motives are pure and that no one can ever learn his secret identity.  He dubs the new hero Golden Wing Number 1, because of his ‘gold suit’ which grants him electrical powers.   When he said that, I was briefly jolted out of the narrative. The suit is not gold, it is red. Did he mean it was made of gold? That does not seem practical.  Not only would be heavy, but does gold even conduct electricity? I think it’s melting point is too low.  But perhaps I should thing about it too carfully since electrical powers seem to  include super strength and speed.  He was also given a robot panther as a companion and told that this was Golden Wing Number 2.

Heon is soon given the chance to test his powers when his guardian is attacked by Uram and his deadly finger guns. His guardian is a world famous professor of robotics who worked with Heon’s late father, Dr. Oh. The professor has created blueprints for the Bronze Giant whose name is also a misnomer. As can be seen on the posters, the robot is not bronze in color, nor is he made of bronze. The professor states in a presentation that the robot is made of a titanium alloy. However, the professor does not get a chance to build the robot as the plans are stolen by Uram and Mirinae. Apparently, the kidnapping of Mirinae happened longer ago than Hinsem made it sound because the young woman believes that Karlson is her father. The evil alien builds the robot and sets it on humanity but Golden Wing 1 and 2, with the help of Deok-shim, are able to replace a component and take control of the robot themselves. They name it Golden Wing Number 3.  With the trio of the title now complete, they set off to stop Karlson and his powerful space battleship.

The characters are interesting in this film. Heon, as the hero, gets the most screen time. Described as his guardian as ‘timid’ and ‘like a girl’ he is nonetheless accepted by his adopted family. (Though honestly, their charaterization of him seems unfair. He seems neither timid nor effeminate to me). His guardian has three children of his own. Deok-shim is overweight, but strong, and not very bright. He takes over the duties of operating Golden Wing 3 but most often depicted either eating or exercising. His sister, Bo-mi, is co-pilot. She has no personality whatsoever and is notable only for the facts that she is romantically interested in Heon and that her uniform when driving the robot makes her look like a bee. (It is not the same as what is shown on the poster above).  The youngest member of the family is Na-mi. She takes to role of comic relief that Cheol holds in the Robot Taekwon V series. In fact, she is voiced by the same person.

The second poster above has more wrong than simply a coloring mistake on the costumes. The three characters on the right of Golden Wing 1 do not appear in the movie at all. This poster appeared prior to the release of the film based on descriptions of the plot and characters that appeared in the comic strip. The girl in the red mask and the man in the purple unitard are Mirinae and Uram, but there is absolutely no red blob in the movie at all and I don’t know enough about the original comic to know who he is. The poster I showed at the very top of this review came out right at the time of the movie’s release and is a much more accurate representation of what the characters look like in the movie.

I found this to be fun to watch. At just 66 minutes long, it does not wear out its welcome. I was a little surprised at one thing though. The film is digitally remastered but throughout its entire running time, it is very scratched. This is most noticable at the beginning of the film and as the story went on, I forgot about it until the scenes in space because the black background made them stand out more. This is certainly due to the state of the surviving print of the film. That is one more reason to get these older films onto DVD. DVDs do not break down as easily as film.

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