Invasion of the Neptune Men

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Iron Sharp
Invasion of the Neptune Men 1961.jpg
Theatrical poster for Invasion of the Neptune Men (1961)
Japanese 宇宙快速船
Hepburn Uchū Kaisokusen
Directed by Koji Ota
Screenplay by Shin Morita
Story by Akihiro Watanabe
Starring Sonny Chiba
Kappei Matsumoto
Shinjiro Ebara
Mitsue Komiya
Ryuko Minakami
Music by Hajime Kaburagi
Cinematography Shizuka Fujii
Edited by Hiroshi Suzuki
Distributed by Toei Company
Release dates
  • 1961 (1961)
Running time
74 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Uchu Kaisokusen (宇宙快速船 Space Hypership?), known as Invasion of the Neptune Men in the United States, is a tokusatsu SF/superhero film produced by Toei Company Ltd. (as "New Toei") in 1961. The movie starred then 22-year old Sonny Chiba as the intergalactic superhero Iron Sharp. As of 2008, this is the only appearance of Iron Sharp (who's dressed in silver tights, helmet, cape, carries a ray gun and rides a car-like rocketship), who is called "Space Chief" in the US version. In either case, this film is similar to many a show in the Toei Superhero genre from the same period, like Planet Prince (Toei's movie version).

Plot[edit]

Astronomer Shinichi Tachibana, has a secret identity as superhero "Iron Sharp" (changed to "Space Chief" in the English dub) and has many children as friends. When they are attacked by a group of metallic aliens ("Neptune Men" in English), Iron Sharp drives the aliens away. Tachibana is also resourceful, as he helps develop an electric barrier to block the aliens from coming to the Earth. After several losses by the aliens, they announce that they will invade the Earth, throwing the world into a state of panic. As they invade the aliens destroy entire cities with their mothership and smaller fighters. Iron Sharp destroys multiple enemy ships and Japan fires a nuclear missile at the mothership, destroying it.

Cast[edit]

  • Sonny Chiba - Shinichi Tachibana/Iron Sharp
  • Kappei Matsumoto - Dr. Tanigawa
  • Ryuko Minakami - Yoko Tanigawa
  • Teppei Yamamoto - Kenichi Tanigawa
  • Masami Nakamura - Tatsuo Ito
  • Nobuyuki Ezawa - Saburo Hayashi
  • Masao Kawakami - Tadashi Ine
  • Shinjiro Ebara - Yanagita, Scientist
  • Kogo Ozono - Tadao Murase
  • Kimio Yamamuro - Hajime Chiba
  • Junji Masuda - Dr. Tamiya
  • Hidemichi Ishikawa - Dr. Yoshimoto
  • Mitsue Komiya - Saito, Scientist
  • Seiichiro Kameishi - Yukichi Yamagata
  • Shiro Okamoto - Eiji Shindo
  • Takashi Kanda - Defense Chief Takita
  • Gozo Soma - Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshitomi
  • Seiho Shirakawa - Dr. Enomoto
  • Ken Sudo - Chief Officer Miyake
  • Koji Sahara - Garrison Chief Mikami
  • Tadashi Minamikawa - Major Murai
  • Kenji Kawai - Guard

US release[edit]

The US version was titled Invasion of the Neptune Men and went directly to TV after being cropped to fullscreen from its 2.35:1 aspect ratio. This version also deleted some of the opening that explained the naming of Iron Sharp and a scene where both American and Soviet ambassadors suspect each other's countries of causing the nuclear explosion. Iron Sharp's theme song was deleted with only an instrumental version remaining.

The film was later featured on the movie-mocking show Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 1997 during its eighth season, a few episodes after they riffed the aforementioned Planet Prince.

A multi-story picture of Adolf Hitler with some Japanese writing (Mein Kampf, mistransliterated as Mine Kampf) is clearly visible on the side of one building before it is destroyed. This was given special attention during the MST3K episode, though its presence remains unexplained. The episode also highlighted the film's extensive use of World War II stock footage and its obviously low budget.

The film was also featured on the nationally syndicated horror host show Cinema Insomnia.[1]

Production[edit]

The alien mothership prop was actually 6 feet (1.8 m) long. It was designed by veteran Toru Narita, best known for his design work on Ultra Q, Ultraman, Ultra Seven and War of the Gargantuas. During the same period, he was an art director for the Toei superhero series National Kid.

Stock footage from the film was used in the music video for Rage Against the Machine's "Testify."

Production credits[edit]

  • Director – Koji Ota
  • Producer – Hiroshi Okawa
  • Screenplay – Shin Morita
  • Story – Akihiro Watanabe
  • Planning – Yoshikazu Yoshikawa, Noboru Nezu
  • Director of Photography – Shizuka Fujii
  • Art Director – Keigo Shimozawa
  • Music – Michiaki Watanabe
  • Recording - Masanobu Otani
  • Lighting - Yoshi Morisawa
  • Film Editor – Hiroshi Suzuki
  • Still Photography – Toshio Suzuki
  • Designer – Toru Narita
  • Special Techniques – Nobuo Yajima
  • Assistant Director – Junya Sato

References[edit]

External links[edit]