Even these tapes cost something

  Star Warrior
1989 | Unicorn Pictures.
Star Warrior Banno Unicorn Pictures

The first ever Anime Bargain Bin Triple bill! Three videos- each based on the same Japanese anime movie: Chojin Locke aka Locke The Superman. First up the UK's Star Warrior.

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The Chojin Locke (Locke The Superman) manga was first published in 1967. The tales of the highly gifted psychic Supersolider went on to be published for over 30 years famously outliving so far a total of four Publishers. Locke lives a quiet existence as a farm boy. Although he looks young he has willed himself to appear this way as he is actually over 100 years old. He is a very powerful Esper, possibly the most powerful in the universe, and this makes him very useful to the Galactic Federation when it comes to keeping the piece through out the galaxy.

Locke's first steps into the world of animation came in 1980 when Nippon Animation created a 10 minute pilot called "Cosmic Game" which it ran in cinemas before the main feature in order to test the audience reaction. The feedback must have been favourable as Chojin Locke premiered in his own two hour theatrical feature on the 14th April 1984. Based on the 'Witch Era' arc of the Manga series, printed in 1979 by Shonen King, it tells of Locke's return from self imposed retirement to thwart the plans of a mysterious and evil Industrialist Lady Cahn who has been secretly training young Psychics in order to create an army with which to overthrow the human race which looks down on those with such abilities.

Marking the production company's first attempts at theatrical animation Chojin Locke was one of a slew of Science Fiction animation that was rushed into production to capitalise on the craze caused by Star Wars (a fact that the UK Star Warrior version's title reflects). The character designs closely resemble those of the 70's manga and the film, along with the recently released and similarly themed Lensman, also experiments with early Computer Graphics (something which had first been attempted a year earlier by Osamu Dezaki's Golgo 13) as well as attempts to blend 'live action' elements like flames and static, with traditional cell animation. The movie's director, Hiroshi Fukutomi, later went on to direct OAV versions of Yukito Kishiro's manga Gunmu (Battle Angel Alita) and the SNK video game Fatal Fury.

Chojin Locke was released in the west in two different versions: in the USA as Locke The Superpower by Celebrity's Just For Kids and in the UK by UNICORN Pictures as the more faithful Star Warrior.

Starting out life as Zuiyo Eizo, Nippon Animation hit TV success in 1974 with the Isao Takahata directed and Hayao Miyazaki designed Heidi. To capitalise of this surprise hit they created the acclaimed World Masterpiece Theatre, a yearly animated showcase of literary classics starting in 1975 with Dog Of Flanders. Sucessive years brought, amongst others, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women, Tom Sawyer, Daddy Long-Legs, Peter Pan and Nobodys Boy. With such a vast and impressive back catalogue of readymade children's cartoon fair Nippon Animation soon built strong ties with overseas distributors which were only further strengthened by the arrival of home video.

This market knowledge enabled them to create a self funded English language dub of their own Chojin Locke movie which, in conjunction with Atlas Home Video, a British/Asian owned distributor specialising in movies from across the continent including Japan, Hong Kong and India, would then be released to the UK video rental market in hopes of raising interest in the character. The 120 min movie was split into two 1 hour long videos.

Unfortunately, although Locke has become well known across Europe, especially in Italy, he never took hold in the UK. The 'grown-up' nature of the movie probably didn't help it endear itself to those parents that were brave enough to get past the cartoon's 'PG' certificate.


Chojin Locke Chojin Locke brochure Locke the Super Power
One of many manga covers
A brochure of the movie
The movie poster
There are two points of interest before we reach the first review of this monster triple bill. First point; the snazzy reflective video labels (below). Real stylish don't ya think?

Second point: these tapes are rentals which means one thing... trailers!

As this is an independent Distributor and not a Schlock producing powerhouse like Cannon so we can't expect such greatness as was found on the Robotech The Movie video. Today we are blessed with 3 trailers.

First up is Sweet Lorraine (IMDB rating 5.2- 86 votes) a dull looking period piece about a hotel and it's staff and guests. The most notable amongst them is an unfunny Jewish stand-up who appears to feature quite prominently despite his apparent lack of talent. It's all sepia and sentiment so I think I'll give it a miss.

Next is Spies, Lies and Naked Thighs (IMDB 4.9- 80 votes) a TV movie I'm embarrassed to say I've actually seen some of. A low rent cable channel used to have a regular slot for junk like this and I once caught a bit of it. One of a glut of silly comedy spoofs attempting to cash in on the Zucker Brothers popularity many of which forgot to copy the one thing that made Airplane and Naked Gun such hits: they were funny. Here you have Ed Begley Jnr (who drives a car powered only by his sense of self satisfaction) and some guy called Harry Andersen desperately mugging through scenes that would make the writers of 'Date/Epic Movie' groan.

Finally we have the cumbersomely titled Go Toward The Light (IMDB 7.6- 154 votes) a cheery True Life Drama the likes of which bored housewives lapped up so readily in the 80s that they've evolved into a global industry of their own. A married couple struggle through life after their son is diagnosed with AIDS. Starring Sarah Connor from Terminator (who seems to have made a career out of having troubled offspring) and John-boy Walton. A pairing like that were bound to have difficulties!

Star Warriors Part One

Colonel Ryu Yamaki sits alone, watching over video footage of a past battle. Real-life video static cuts between the action and the statistics of the main combatant, a young man with gravity defying green hair and incredible psychic abilities. Col Yamaki watches as the green haired man uses his skill to destroy jets and tanks seemingly just by looking at them. Switching off the video, Yamaki climbs to his feet and gazes out of the window at the night sky. "I wonder why there are always wars?" he tritely ponders. He doesn't stop there wondering further if men are actually born to like wars after all "wars are money spinners!". This amazing insight continues as he turns his thoughts towards the man whose abilities he's been scrutinising. He looks back at his listed capabilities: Capable of extracting Jenus Pattern (an important life skill I'm sure), accelerating the metabolism and transforming himself into various individuals. It's clear that these are the types of skills that could be invaluable in any number of situations, particularly "transforming in various individuals", although only if one of the individuals he can transform into is present at the time.

"He's still a kid. You refused to grow up and fight! That's it! I've gotta find him right now!" and with this confusing statement the film begins...

The credits show the young man, Locke, to be enjoying a peaceful life in the countryside- sitting in the grass playing a flute with his neighbour's dog. Suddenly he has a vision, he sees Yamaki's journey. The Colonel arrives outside Locke's farmhouse, just as the boy appears over the hill with a herd of sheep. He introduces himself but the Esper remains silent and goes about his business. The only time he speaks is to deny that he is the legendary Locke The Superman. Yamaki continues to probe Locke while helping out with the chores. He claims to be an expert on sheep explaining that "You should never let your sheeps over eat!" I'm not so sure he is so knowledgeable. The two finally bond as the Intelligence Officer helps the country boy delivery a lamb.

Over lunch Ryu spills the beans. 17 years ago a mysterious industrialist by the name of Lady Cahn used her money to set up a school for Espers (oddly miss-pronounced as "Es-pars"). But all isn't as it seems as this school is actually being used as a secret training facility for her to create an elite army of psychics called a "Millennium". Locke is already aware of much of this as the mysterious woman once tried to recruit him for her plans but he turned her down. Yamaki is relieved by this decision and urges Locke to help him and the Federation stop her plans but the boy isn't interested in fighting. Even when reminded of his long military history Locke refuses to change his mind. Realising he can do nothing to persuade the boy Col Yamaki leaves.

Night falls as Yamaki returns to his hotel, the unusually named "Hotel Top". In a car outside a long haired priest is waiting for him. You don't need to see his robotic hand to know this guy's trouble. The odd-ball swears revenge against the Intelligence Director! Before opening the door to his room Yamaki uses his hi-tech watch to check for booby-traps. Sure enough there's a 'plastic bomb' set in the door lock which is easily defused. He enters the room gloating, completely unaware of the backup device in the plant pot! Noticing it too late he is blown across the room. The smoke settles. Ryu struggles to his feet as his would be assassin calmly enters, announcing himself with the classic line:

"It's been a long time since the last time we met-Yamaki-next time. I suggest you pick a better hotel with staff who can think!!"

What a way with words! The Colonel recognises the man as Locor someone he sent to the exile star. But unfortunately he: "Escaped from there and came all the way back here!" Yamaki tries to leap for cover but Locor is too fast for him shooting him in the leg and arm, blood spattering from the wounds. "Serves you right!" the gunman taunts, quickly following with the nonsensical statement; "You can't imagine the DEADLY TIME I had on that hell hole star... although you'll never know!" A great line even when not delivered with almost bi-polar emphasis! It doesn't look good for Ryu Yamaki as Locor prepares to fire the fatal shot! But the blast doesn't hit him- instead it bounces harmlessly from an invisible force field. The less than bright assassin continues to shoot away hoping that one of the shots might miraculously find it's mark until he is startled by someone behind him. He spins around to see Locke and upon demanding to know who he is the boy cryptically replies "Sorry. I'm glad I'm in time!" (Did the cast just improvise this dialog?) Locke uses his mind to jam Locor's gun forcing him to use a blade hidden in his metal hand instead. He's no match for the killer esper and ends up electrocuted by his psychic energy. Locke uses his superpowers further this time to heal Yamaki's wounds. The Colonel is excited to hear Locke agree to join him on his mission.

The action shifts to Planet Denal and the Cahn Institute. The President, Professor Lamsees, gives a bafflingly confused speech to the assembled girl Espers. As he does so the viewers are given a brief glimpse around the school and at the training the girls are going through to hone their psychic abilities. Outside a lone girl walks across the grounds. Lamsees communicates to her psychically, in order to test the extent of her abilities. Satisfied that Jessica has improved he releases her and turns his attention to an alarm signaling an important message. In a secret room behind the classic sliding bookcase he receives a call from Lady Cahn herself. She informs him that Yamaki's plan has been set in motion and demands to know when Jessica's training will be complete. Dissatisfied with his answer of two months she orders him to have it completed in just two weeks to which the man agrees.

That night, while Jessica sleeps, Lamsees gives the go ahead to induce a dangerous hypnotic state in her against the protestations of her teacher who fears such drastic actions could cause the girl to go insane. The mind control is underway and Jessica is fed images of her Mother and Father being violently gunned down by sinister looking men in iron masks. This is the sort of thing guaranteed to gives kiddies nightmares, even without the gallons of blood! She repeatedly watches her father being practically blasted in half by laser bolts, sometimes from different angles to keep it fresh, until the man behind the attack is revealed to her. Despite the increasing trauma to the young girl (and the young audience) the experiment continues until Locke is unveiled as the mastermind behind this terrible act!

The following morning Jessica is awoken by her roommate Anne who is concerned about her state. The girl is confused and traumatised by she can't remember by what. She decides the best way to calm herself is with a nice, hot, gratuitous shower scene! While Jessica bathes, complete with obvious cuts and jumpy dialog, her supposed friend plants a photo of Jessica with Lady Cahn into the girl's diary. The mentally strained Esper has flash backs of her dream- particularly Locke- and collapses, the partial nudity making any kids watching with their parents feel really uncomfortable.

That afternoon Jessica Olen sits in the Institute grounds quietly contemplating her feelings when she is approached by a woman with short, blonde hair. The woman introduces herself as Cornelia Prim, her new guru. Little does the trainee Esper realise that Cornelia has been sent by Lady Cahn with the task of overseeing the final part of her conversion. Cornelia relays a message she claims is from Lady Cahn expressing the mysterious leader's interest in the girl and revealing that she believes her to have the strongest powers in the universe. As planned the brain washed girl is overwhelmed by the praise showing her new teacher the photo in her diary of her meeting with Lady Cahn and pledging to do anything for the unseen matriarch.

At the Millennium Plan's hidden base, Asteroid Cahn, Cornelia recruits a pair of high level trainee Espers for a sparring session against Jessica. When they see their opponent the two men laugh at the suggestion that she is a combatant, completely unaware of her advanced capabilities. The two enter the 'Progection' room at the battle begins. Things start badly for Jessica. She is repeatedly caught off guard by her partner's light blasts and she is hurled across the room. The bombardment continues and things are made worse for her as the constant attacks cause her leotard to rip in embarrassing places- and on the day she didn't wear a bra! What a shocking coincidence!

The strain of this assault is too much for the girl and the fear brings back memories of her parents brutal slaying. The psychedelic visuals couple with frantic synth music as Jessica relives her father's gory demise over and over and over until she, and any small children watching, can take no more! The terrified girl lets out a scream of epic proportions, sending her sparring partners flying across the hall and slamming into the far wall. In shock the girl lays on the floor babbling. Surprisingly the camera doesn't cut before revealing a clear view of one of her bare nipples! Any parents that had let their little Jimmy see this far through must have been reaching for the remote now. Then it happens again! Outrageous!

Jessica finally succumbs to her programming and vows to kill the man she believes is responsible for her parent's murder. Cornelia cradles the exhausted girl as she informs her of the true extent of her power while the dead bodies of her opponents are stretured away into a lift. Then the exact same sequence repeats over as Cornelia continues her speech. It's likely that three nipples was too many so the additional nude scenes were covered up by reused footage.

Elsewhere Yamaki and Locke are trying to track down Professor Lamsees. I'm not sure how they know about him or his possible involvement but that's what they're doing. Following up on a lead from an Earth Academy they head to the Cahn Institute on Planet Lonwall. On the journey the two discuss their mysterious nemesis. Apparently around ten years ago Lady Cahn was involved in a Shuttle Accident and since then she has not been seen in public. Rumours circulate that she died in the accident and her personality was stored in a computer which now runs her empire. Yamaki also expresses an interest in taking her for a drink or inviting her to a dance, on account of her legendary beauty.

Meanwhile on Planet Serena Cornelia leads an Esper assault on a Federation Army base. Amongst the combatants is a nervous Jessica. The eight of them blast through the complex making easy work of it's defences and guards. Nearing the computer one of the unit detects a team of opposing Espers. The Federation's Espers hold the assault team at bay with a powerful psychic attack. Cahn's unit are trapped until Cornelia urges Jessica to fight back. The resulting mental blast practically blows the opposing Espers head off! With the blockade neutralised Cornelia's team advances but is caught off guard by a lone soldier, appearing from behind! Without thinking Jessica turns and blasts him with her rifle, the solider's blood spattering her face. As she struggles to come to terms with what she has done Cornelia reassures her that she has become a strong combatant. With no left to stand in their way the computer is destroyed and their mission is a success.

Continuing their journey to Lonwall Yamaki receives a space fax informing him of the Esper raid. The message goes on to instruct him to return to Denal. The Colonel is reluctant to leave Locke behind but follows his orders. At the shuttle port on Denal Yamaki waits in the control tower, presumably for his flight to Earth. Just then an out of control shuttle narrowly misses the tower and crash lands in a field nearby. Yamaki goes to investigate. Close by Cornelia and one of her Esper Team, Minu, observe the crash. It seems that this is all part of their plan to prevent the Colonel from returning to Earth.

At the crash site Col Yamaki finds a lone survivor in an escape pod from the downed vessel. Jessica. She is rushed to a Federation hospital and on awakening finds that she can't remember anything about herself. The only clue to her identity is the photo of her & Lady Cahn that she was holding...

On Lonwall Locke arrives at Cahn institute and meets with Professor Lamsees. The Professor is quite co-operative, when asked were Lady Cahn is he willingly tells Locke she is on Asteroid Cahn. But when he asks the location of the Asteroid the bearded man turns nasty and attempts to blast him with hidden booby-trap lasers! Of course this trick is little work for the green haired Esper who simply teleports out of the way. Lamsees makes a run for it, through another of his secret passages. When Locke follows he finds himself in a trap, sinking in a strange glowing goo. He soon works out that this is simply an illusion and neutralises it with his mind. The danger is not over yet as Lamsees has several heavies to protect him. Again these men are little trouble for Locke and with them taken out he demands to know Cahn's location. When the Professor insists on keeping quiet Locke has no other choice than to fatally wound him and try else where. One of the vanquished heavies is more useful and the Esper reads the Asteroid's location straight from his mind.

Lady Cahn appears in a hologram. She explains her plan to Locke in hopes it will convince him to join her. She is planning on breeding a new order using 'The Holy Mothers' a group of female Espers specifically chosen for their superior genes. She will train their children into a formidable Esper army which will be used to overthrow the human government which has so far looked down on their kind. Being a sane individual Locke refuses her offer and uses his psychic power to start a fire to destroy the facility.

Back at the hospital tests are being run on Jessica to try and restore her memory but nothing works. In the gardens outside she and Col Yamaki engage in poorly scripted flirtation not realising that his is all part of Cahn's programming. She knows that one day Locke and the Colonel will meet again and when Jessica, or Amelia as the doctors have named her, sees Locke her mental conditioning will activate and she'll kill him! Yamaki receives a message on his space pager and must return to Earth alone.

On the journey home Yamaki passes the time listening to Japanese pop music but is interrupted by one of the crew who has found a stowaway. It's none other than Amelia. Alone on the shuttle together their love blossoms both unaware that it is all artificial programming. All goes well until the Colonel says the wrong thing and the girl runs away, locking herself in a shuttle bay. Desperate to set her straight about his feelings Yamaki stupidly attempts to break the steel door down with his head. Mistaking this act of amazing denseness for strong feelings of love Amelia comes out. Yamaki confesses his feelings and a sex scene likely goes missing.

The next day, on Earth, Colonel Yamaki receives a briefing detailing the Cahn influenced upraising on five planets that were previously protected by the Federation's G1 Computer. All the Federation troops have been pulled out of the sector and are waiting in position of Planet Lonwall.

Then, without warning, the opening moments of the subsequent scene are cut off with the following statement:

So, will Locke find Lady Cahn and put a stop to her fascist plans? Find out in the final half of the movie on cassette 2!


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