6 Ultra Brothers vs. the Monster Army. I relayed the story of how I'd recently become obsessed with Thai crapmaster, Sompote Sands. 6 Ultra Brothers is commonly mistaken for this movie, so it seemed like the right choice to follow it up with this absurdity. Hanuman vs. 7 Ultramans (that's no typo, the Thai language doesn't really account for pluralization of the literal English translation) is a strange and somewhat incomprehensible assault on the senses. Mixing Kaiju Eiga with the Hindu Mythology already feels wrong somehow from the get go. Can you imagine if a serious attempt was ever made in America to turn "God" fully clad in a white robe and beard into a giant avenger who squashes bad guys and fights monsters? Sure, it would have a hell of a cult following but certain things seem off limits when it comes to religious taboos and as far as I can tell this movie was aiming at a mainstream audience of children. Welcome to the weird and wonderful world of Sompote Sands.
I'm pretty sure there's a plot here somewhere. There's a group of celebratory children performing some kind of ritualistic song and dance routine around some temple ruins. This scene seemed to drag on longer than it should. After one of the boys finds some bandits stealing a stone Buddha head he flips out! Screaming, chasing after them, all the while they're punching and kicking him in the head. Don't get me wrong, these guys were assholes but the kid's attachment to this idol was ridiculous. He runs after them and jumps on the back of their MOVING CAR. I was completely entertained by this almost keystone kops-esque chase scene. That is until one of the bandits gets fed up and SHOOTS THE KID IN THE FACE!
WHOA! Did I just see that? And so begins my understanding of the true nature of Mr. Sands' fucked-uppery.
Meanwhile we're introduced to two stooges that's role in the movie is never quite clear. Comic relief I suppose? They drive around the desert until they find a lake and decide to go for a swim. They're wearing women's bathing suits underneath their clothes! This picture pretty much sums up their entire roles in the movie...
All kinds of craziness is going on in outer space. The Ultramans are cohorting on their awesome Bava-esque planet (since these scenes are taken directly from 6 Ultra Brothers, there are lots of nice pictures of this in my review for it) and Hanuman is having a conversation with some other Deity in a giant fiery orb (the sun perhaps?). Amidst their conversation Hanuman decides to take the body of the little boy who was shot in the face. Which I presumed would be to eventually revive him. I mean, what good is being an ancient God if you don't have some kind of mystical healing powers? But alas, it was just a tease. The plot really didn't go in that direction at all. In the end, after Hanuman as inevitably saved the day, he flies off like nothing ever happened. Like he didn't just possess the body of a boy-corpse in order to taunt his murderers.
Another subplot I could barely comprehend are all the scientists with all the rockets. Not two or three rockets, but something like 20 rockets bunched up together on a launching pad. Eventually this set-up leads to the accident that will cause the monster attack. An earthquake awakens a bunch of monsters in which Hanuman attempts to battle. Poorly, I might add. He gets his ass handed to him and has to rely on the 6 underwhelmed Ultra Brothers to save him. That's another thing. Where does this 7th Ultramans come in? My best guess is that the appearance of Ultra Mari (Ultraman's Mother) at the beginning makes up for this oversight. I might also add that there's no "versus" involved here. Hanuman and the the Ultramans are on the same side. In the end Hanuman thanks the Ultramans by performing what I assume is some goofy sacred dance. He does that a lot. He hugs and kisses each disillusioned Ultraman before they fly off back to their home planet.. .And so ended the epic freak fest known as Hanuman vs. 7 Ultramans.
So what's the verdict? Well, there were times I was a little disappointed in how the Hanuman costume looked like a costume, and the actor in it was probably just some guy they paid to flounce around like a monkey. No finesse like I'm used to from the Japanese. Then again there were other times his face looked really fierce and the sheer weirdness of what I was seeing was enough to carry the movie. Besides, I think disappointment is Sompote Sands calling card. He built an entire career on broken dreams and strange myth. I've seen a lot of foreign movies. (When I say foreign I mean the way growing an extra limb out of your back would be foreign.) None have seemed quite so foreign as this and probably his other movies too. I can't help but wonder how well this and the other Hanuman movies did in Thailand at the time of their release. I believe there are at least two others, Hanuman vs the 5 Riders and Space Warriors. There's also Giant and Jumbo A, which I thought starred Hanuman but later realized it stars another Sompote Sands movie Deity "Yuk Wud Jaeng" from his film Tah Tien, which at a glance has a similar costume. Reviews for ALL of these movies are on the way.
There's so little information about Sands on the net. Aside from the few aforementioned blogs, you'll be lucky to find anything that's not misinformation. Like IMDB for instance, it only lists three of his movies and even makes the mistake of confusing Hanuman vs. 7 Ultramans and the original 6 Ultra Brothers vs. the Monster Army, listing them as the same movie and he as the primary director. I know for sure that he did at least 15-20 movies as I've seen them on ethaicd.com and various reviews in other blogs. But if you type in his name in google mostly links on the lawsuit that was only resolved three years ago come up. In my review for 6 Ultra Brothers vs. the Monster Army I was a little confused about about the lawsuit between Tsuburaya Productions and Chaiyo, awesome blogger/Sompote Sands expert Die, Danger, Die, Die, Kill! cleared that up for me. I was under the impression that Chaiyo never had permission to use footage from Ultraman, but I guess what really happened was they thought they were giving permission to use a little bit of footage for this movie alone and that sheister Sands ran with it! He spent a good chunk of his career abusing his expired privilege of Tsuburaya's creations. There's a great article on it over at Scifijapan.com. I still can't help but root for Sompote a little bit. It's the same part of me that would rather suffer through Badi: the Turkish ET, than be bored watching the original. Not to compare Tsuburaya with Spielburg! Yikes! But it was the hacks of the world who were responsible for leading me to some of the most strange discoveries. Everyone's seen Star Wars, but you'd be surprised how few have seen the outrageous Planet Wars: the Brazilian Star Wars. Just because it's a stolen idea doesn't mean it's not a good idea.
Some may not like this strange fermentation of Japanese and Thai culture. Ultraman is very clean, Hanuman and company seem exotic by comparison. Not in the drinking cocktails out of a coconuts on the beach while listen to Martin Denny sort of way. More like the I went to vacation in Thailand and came back with this festering rash on my ballsack kinda way.
Next I'll be watching one of Sompote Sands original films (to be announced) and I'll see what kind of proverbial rape of the senses he has to offer next.
for more stills I took from Hanuman vs. 7 Ultramans click on on the link...
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