Monday, May 3, 2010

New Images From Won Shin-yeon's 'Taekwon V'

Written By: Ken Hulsey
Sources: Robot War Espresso / Avery Guerra

It had been just over a year since the last news on Won Shin-yeon's CGI heavy "Taekwon V" came out of Korea. In fact, it had been so long, that I had almost forgotten about the movie entirely.

"Taekwon V" was originally announced way back in January of 2008, and was slated to be released in 2009, but as director Won Shin-yeon, and producers Chul Shin and William Teitler, learned, making a effects laden sci fi film, in Asia, can be a very expensive and time-consuming undertaking. So, needless to say, the film is still in production, with a release date undetermined.

Released in 1976, the original "Robot Taekwon V "(known as Voltar the Invincible in the U.S.) was the first Korean animated feature film. In 2005, it also became the first Korean film to undergo full digital restoration, a process that took three years to complete. The newly restored film premiered at the 10th Pusan International Film Festival, and enjoyed a successful theatrical release on 170 screens in 2007.

Do you think that the design of "Taekwon V" looks a little bit familiar? Well, it should.

The Japanese giant robot anime "Mazinger Z" (1972) was popular in South Korea at the time of Robot Taekwon V's creation, and Kim Cheong-gi freely discusses the influence of "Mazinger Z" on his cartoon, saying he wanted to create a Korean hero for Korean children. In order to emphasize the Korean ties of the film, he had leading characters perform the traditional martial art, taekwondo, and gave the robot the ability to do taekwondo kicks. While Korea has become the global hive for animation outsourcing (Korean studios now work on most Japanese anime feature films) 1970's Korea had a very different vibe to modern day South Korea. Bitter memories of the brutal occupation of Korea by Japan were still fresh in the minds of many. Chongi Kim's Taekwon V proudly bares the helmet the legendary Korean Admiral Yi Sunsin wore in his quests to fend off Japanese annexation. In a very real sense Taekwon V is a national hero representing the fight for freedom from Japan and independence.

The plot for this modern, live-action, version of "Taekwon V" has been kept a secret, but here is the plot from the original animated series:

In the original film Dr. Kaff (or Dr. Cops in Korean), an evil scientist bent on world domination, creates an army of giant robots to kidnap world-class athletes and conquer the world. To fight off this attack, Dr. Kim creates Robot Taekwon V. Kim Hoon, the taekwon-do champion eldest son of Dr Kim, pilots Robot Taekwon V either mechanically or through his physical power by merging his taekwon-do movements with the robot. Comic relief is provided by Kim Hoon's younger brother, elementary school student Kim Cheol. He has fashioned himself as "Tin-Can Robot Cheol" by cutting eyeholes in a tea kettle and wearing it on his head. Kim Hoon's girlfriend, Yoon Yeong-hee, is a pilot and taekwon-do practitioner. She can also operate Robot Taekwon V with buttons and levers, and pilots Kim Hoon in and out of the robot.

In preparation for the upcoming release of "Taekwon V" there has been an ongoing series of television adds, for various products, in Korea, featuring the giant robot, plus a new website has just launched to promote it.

Also, a whole new bunch of photos from the production have surfaced, thanks go out to Robot War Espresso and Avery Guerra for digging these up:

See Also: Japanese Giant Monsters And Robots In The News 04/23/10

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Burbank, CA – March 29, 2010 – Legendary Pictures announced today that they will develop and produce a new film based on Toho Company’s famed GODZILLA character. Through the terms of the agreement, Legendary Pictures has acquired the rights to produce a movie inspired by Toho’s Godzilla, a franchise the Japanese company created and has nurtured for over fifty years.

Toho’s GODZILLA franchise boasts one of the most widely recognized film creatures worldwide, resulting in a series of books, television programs, video games and more than 25 films worldwide. Legendary intends to approach the film and its characters in the most authentic manner possible. The company will, in the near future, announce a filmmaker to helm the film for an intended 2012 release. The film will fall under the company’s co-production and co-financing deal with Warner Bros. Toho will distribute the film in Japan."

"Godzilla" is coming back -- this time, with Legendary Pictures taking the lead, co-producing and co-financing with Warner Bros. for release in 2012.

Legendary announced Monday it had obtained rights to the iconic monster character from Japan's Toho Co., which has overseen more than 25 "Godzilla" films. Toho will release the pic in Japan.

Legendary said it's planning to announce a director shortly.

In addition to Legendary, producers on the new film will be Dan Lin, Roy Lee and Brian Rogers. Yoshimitsu Banno, Kenji Okuhira and Doug Davison will exec produce.

"Godzilla is one of the world's most powerful pop culture icons, and we at Legendary are thrilled to be able to create a modern epic based on this long-loved Toho franchise," said Thomas Tull, Chairman and CEO of Legendary. "Our plans are to produce the Godzilla that we, as fans, would want to see. We intend to do justice to those essential elements that have allowed this character to remain as pop-culturally relevant for as long as it has."

Legendary noted the film will fall under its co-production and co-financing deal with Warner Bros. Legendary's productions with Warners have included "The Dark Knight," "300" and "The Hangover."

Speculation about a new "Godzilla" has been active since last summer. The Bloody Disgusting web site reported in August that the project was in development.