Tie chao ren [The Iron Super Man] (1974)

There are strange movies, bad movies, and strange bad movies.

And then there’s this thing.

What we are talking about here is a Hong Kong film which “borrowed” all the special effects from a Japanese Tokusatsu kid’s program, Super Robot Mach Baron (the sequel to the Red Baron series), then shot new footage with Chinese actors, and spliced it all together with a minimum of plot and a lot of giant robots fighting each other.

But if that wasn’t strange enough, Tubi has this one up for free — in a German dubbed (yes, German, you read that right) version with pretty iffy subtitles on a scratchy and possibly incomplete print of the film (there’s a big leap from what looks like an important revelation to something else at one point, and a few other messy spots — although it  may just be lousy editing, it’s hard to say — and the ending is very, very abrupt).

I’ll admit that I was surprised to learn that the crazy Seventies-ish outfits with the contrasting colors and bell-bottoms actually came from the original series, but the robot effects are fun, even if they aren’t up to the Toho standard.  More than anything else, they remind me of Gerry Anderson’s Supermarionation series and the team here is as well equipped as the Thunderbirds or Captain Scarlet, complete with an undersea base, small fighter jets and even a fancy car you can drive right into the robot.

I’ll confess that I like that car.  You really have to look close, but it is a classic Datsun 240 Z, but with a set of wild added high front fenders that look like they came off a Ferrari 330 P4 race car.

Mind you, there are so many robot battles crammed into this thing there’s barely time for anything else except the comedy relief police man and his flying mini bike.  I am amused to see that the odd video transformation effect as the robot bends back and forth before it goes into battle was in the original.  I guess it makes just as much sense as anything else.

Oh well.  Just another case of stupid fun, perfect for those willing to shut their brains off.  Although I’ll warn you it’s pretty bad.

But then you knew that already.

Watch for free on Tubi

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