Sci-Fi December: Message From Space

Message from Space illustration by Jeff SchwartzbauerMessage from Space – 1978

Dir: Kinji Fukasaku | Vic Morrow, Sonny Chiba, Philip Casnoff, Peggy Lee Brennan

Year: Far in the Future

Review: Its not hard to imagine the film industry falling over themselves to be the first to draft on Star Wars’ success, and Japans first big entrant was Message From Space, a big grand space opera full of misguided ideas and blatant facsimiles from Star Wars. It seems they just watched Star Wars and made notes on how to make various parts different, but not too different. The plot is that a planet is facing destruction and as a last ditch effort they cast out 8 seeds into space which by gods divine hand will find their way to 8 brave warriors who will defeat the evil empire threatening to destroy their planet. The seeds fall into the hands of two hot shot space pilots, their smart-talking gambler buddy, a rich socialite, an wise old Earth general who has just left his post (his best friend is R2D2 with legs), and a few others fall into the hands of various characters that are meant to be surprises. They band together and agree to take on the empire. All the space craft are slight variations of those in Star Wars, there is a Sword Fight (samurai swords rather than Light Sabers) showdown with the Darth Vader character and a powerful former pupil, there is a craggy old cretin controlling the empire, there is a desert planet where the hot shots fly their space craft in canyon runs, a bratty rich girl who has to have her way, a hopping cantina full of robots, humans, and aliens boozing and fighting, etc., Oh and they fly into a small cavity of the evil empires ship that only a daredevil pilot could handle. Its a shameless rip off and any sort of japanese imprint are left to the gaudy paint job splashed on the Evil Empire and their Ronin Warrior outfits. If you are a diehard Star Wars fan its worth seeing for just how they copied things, but beyond that I can’t recommend it.

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