Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Kamen Rider vs Shocker


O.K. NOW we're talking! There are few things that I enjoy more than a 1970s Japanese live action superhero show. Come to think of it, there may be nothing that I enjoy more than a 1970s Japanese live action superhero show. Although there had already been many produced in the 60s (Starting with 1966s Ultraman and Ambassador Magma, aka The Space Giants), the boom didn't really hit until 1971. That boom was an absolute explosion. There were literally hundreds of these programs. I started watching/collecting these shows some twenty years ago (concentrating specifically on shows from that decade) and even now, I'll occasionally hear of a title that's brand new to me. The ocean runneth that deep. The grandaddy of them all  undoubtedly was Kamen (Masked) Rider.

Created Shotaro Ishinomori, Kamen Rider told of an evil organization called Shocker that was creating cyborg monsters with the intention of (wait for it) ruling the world. Their prize creation, a captured motorcycle racer whom they transformed into a grasshopper-like cyborg, escapes and turns on the organization with the intent of stopping them. The rest of the 98 (!) episode series shows the running battle between Kamen Rider and Shocker's monster-cyborg of the week. Kamen Rider was portrayed by Hiroshi Fujioka. Unfortunately, Fujioka sustained a major leg injury from a motor cyclr accident in episode #9 or #10 and after several episodes showing him only in cyborg form, the decision was to temporarily replace him with a second Kamen Rider portrayed by Takeshi Sasaki. Sasaki took over the role for thirty or so episodes until Fujioka returned. Eventually toward the end of the series, the two teamed up to eventually defeat Shocker. Also in the cast were Jiro Chiba (Sonny's younger brother) as an FBI agent who battles alongside our heroic cyborgs and Akiji Kobayashi (whom most will know as Captain Muramatsu in the original Ultraman) as Fujioka's friend/assistant.

A popular move with many superhero series was to film one or more accompanying theatrical short films as a companion piece. The first of these was "Kamen Rider vs Shocker', a dizzyingly entertaining 30 minute film that's one of the most purely enjoyable movies I've ever sat through. The story of this wonderful short film concerns Shocker's attempt to steal Professor Daidoji's GX Device (a gravity defying machine) and our two heroic Kamen Riders' battles to stop them. In addition to fighting various reborn cyborg monsters that they previously defeated in the series, this film introduces a new menace called Hercules Fish Freak! (hey, that's what the subtitles read).

Supreme fun as both a straight ahead, low budget superhero adventure and as pure tongue in cheek camp (in the 60s Batman tradition) Kamen Rider vs Shocker is as good as it gets.

                                                      **** / ****


No comments:

Post a Comment