The EOFFTV Review

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Raiders of Galaxy (1987)

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Director: Johnny T. Howard
Writer: Anthony Lewis
Producer: Joseph Lai
Composer: not credited
Principal Cast: not credited

For more details on this title, visit the main EOFFTV site.

Joseph Lai will be a familiar name to anyone who's spent any time swilling around at the bottom of the martial arts barrel. His IFD film company - complete with corporate fanfare stolen from the Star Wars soundtrack - knocked out what seems like hundreds (but hopefully wasn't) of hopeless ninja movies in the 1980s, mostly made up from older, less successful films intercut with newly shot footage, much of that starring Richard Harrison. These are almost compelling in their awfulness, featuring men in pastel ninja garb (complete with headbands that read NINJA just in case we don't get it) and soundtracks culled, without permission, from bands as unlikely as Tangerine Dream and Cocteau Twins!

To Joseph Lai, copyright is something that other people worry about. Not merely content with recycling old films under new names and filching soundtracks from unsuspecting Western acts - most of who have probably never even seen the films in question and so remain blissfully unaware of what went on - in the mid 1980s, he took to plundering some of Japanese animations most recognizable characters, designs and storylines for a series of appalling films animated in Korea but made with Hong Kong money.

Raiders of the Galaxy (or Raiders of Galaxy to give it its original, ungrammatical title) is one such title. Others in the series appear to be Protectors of Universe (that's exactly what it says on the video sleeve), Defenders of Space and Space Thunder Kids. These films have started turning up on ultra cheap DVDs available in the States through Wal-Mart and Family Dollar for just $1 each. But please don't be thinking that you're getting a bargain here - risk your hard earned $1 on this rubbish and you'll regret it to the day you die.

Raiders of the Galaxy is a shameless rip off of the Japanese Mazinger TV shows and features some kids piloting a giant transforming fighter robot, Mazinga 3, against an armada of alien invaders. Though they're that much of a threat - their spaceships make R2-D2 noises when attacked and it's impossibly to take seriously a space tyrant - "commander of the Solar System!" - named… President Andrew.

The plot is paper thin, and also lifted wholesale from any number of giant robot animes. It's simply an endless parade of squabbling kids, transforming robots and space battles. But don't think that this might be a good thing at all - the whole enterprise is let down by the worst… Well, no I hesitate to call it "animation" as that implies there might be some life to it. What we have here barely qualifies as animation at all, so static are the images. At times, it looks like someone has simply run a camera over a not terribly well drawn comic book.

And what little animation there is could seriously be detrimental to a viewer's health - each cell appears to have been lit slightly differently, resulting in a mild but headache-inducing strobing effect. (To be fair, this might have been due to a dodgy video transfer but I've seen some terrible transfers in my time and nothing looked quite as strange and painful as this).

Lai continues his habit of plundering other people's music for his films - here, amongst what appears to be plenty of library cues, can be found Isao Tomita's electronic rendition of Holst's Mars from The Planets. Elsewhere on the soundtrack, the sound design is truly appalling, with effects that are mostly ripped off from Star Wars and which have the habit of just stopping in the middle of scenes. And as for the voice acting… We've become used to less than stellar performances in some animated films, but here Lai deploys what sounds like the same lot he uses for his martial arts movies with hilarious results. The dialogue is poorly written anyway, but the listless way that it's delivered by a cast who clearly want to be somewhere else kills it stone dead. When told of the Mazinga 3's awesome firepower, the blue-skinned Andrew deadpans "yes, it's quite impressive…"

Raiders of Galaxy really is something of a mystery - even the official IFD website barely recognise it's existence (it's there but you have to really search for it). And there are precious few references to it anywhere else on the net, leading one to suspect that Raiders hasn't yet made it to those cheapie DVDs mentioned earlier. It certainly got a UK video release, originally on the Falcon Films label and later on MIA but both versions are now long out of print.


Last Updated on Sunday, 20 September 2009 08:29