Robot Taekwon V (released in America as Voltar The Invincible) was a 1976 South Korean animated film that inspired many sequels and comic books. In Japan it's known as a Mazinger Z ripoff, but the creator Kim Cheong-gi freely admits that it directly inspired him and mentions that Mazinger Z is popular in South Korea.note
The series is one of the first few franchises in South Korea to start the Super Robot trend in Korean fiction.
A Mad Scientist named Dr. Kaff builds giant robots to kidnap world-famous athletes and use their powers to Take Over the World. Dr. Kim makes a super robot to fight Dr. Kaff's robots sent from the Red Empire. His eldest son Kim Hoon, a young Taekwondo champion, must use his martial arts skills to pilot it. He is joined by his Action Girlfriend Yoon Yeong in the fight against evil.
The show has been digitally restored after a duplicate print was discovered in a Korean Film Commission warehouse. It was released in cinemas in the early 2000s with DVDs released recently. Some of its sequels also had digital restoration and were also released on DVD.
The Taekwon V franchise consist of the following movies:
- Robot Taekwon V - July 24, 1976
- Robot Taekwon V: Space Mission - December 13, 1976
- Robot Taekwon V: Underwater Rangers - July 20, 1977
- Robot Taekwon V vs. Golden Wings Showdown - July 26, 1978 note
- Fly! Space Battleship Turtle Ship - July 26, 1979
- Super Taekwon V - July 30, 1982
- 84 Taekwon V - August 3, 1984
- Robot Taekwon V 90 - July 28, 1990
Only the original Robot Taekwon V, 84 Taekwon V and Robot Taekwon V 90 are released again in Korea with official English subtitles to gain a wider audience beyond Korean shores. The others are either unavailable in DVD or they are released without any English subtitles.
The franchise also had plans for a live-action movie and an MMORPG game in the late 2000's, although it's most likely that these plans have permanently stalled. There is also multiple manhwas published based on Robot Taekwon V.
Click here for a clip of the OP.
Tropes used by Robot Taekwon V:
- All Asians Know Martial Arts: Partially part of the plot. While Hoon, Yoon and Mori are East Asians and they know to fight via Taekwondo, Richard fights in Taekwondo as a representative of the United States. The latter two are kidnapped by Red Empire agents in order to brainwash them and let them pilot their robots.
- Author Appeal: Robot Taekwon V was designed to give South Korean children a Korean hero with its Tae Kwon Do themed robot. Taekwon Vs helmet is based on the headgear of Admiral Yi Sun Shin, the iconic 16th century leader who defended Korean shores from Japanese invasion with iron clad warships.
- Dirty Communists/Red Scare: Possibly played with the Red Empire. They sport the red star, which is a known symbol for Communism. Averted since it's used only to cover Dr. Kaff's terrorist activities. Since this was made in the 1970s with North Korea being a major threat to South Korea after the Korean War and even after the end of the Cold War...
- Earn Your Happy Ending: The Taekwon V team was able to defeat the Red Empire and save the world from terrorists.
- Far-East Asian Terrorists: The Red Empire. It was created by Dr. Kaff who was disgraced by his peers in the scientist community that he decided to use his intellect for evil after he disappeared from South Korea.
- Gondor Calls for Aid: Various military forces are called in to help the Taekwon V team to defeat the Red Empire in their Egyptian hideout.
- Mock Buster: Averted. Despite some Mazinger fans' misplaced nationalism, this is one of the few Korean animesque animated movies that isn't completely one of these— it's a Korean original.
- Monster of the Week: Played with by the Red Empire.
- The Moral Substitute: A rare example of this phenomenon being a "good" thing, so to speak. It was created as a response to the popularity of Mazinger Z in South Korea, and the director's resulting desire to create a "homegrown" mecha series for Korean children to enjoy. At the time, Japanese imports, including anime, were technically illegal in South Korea due to laws put in place after World War II, but this did not stop many Koreans (especially those born after the war) from finding ways to consume them anyway.
- Motion-Capture Mecha
- May or may not in fact be the Trope Maker. The show came out two years before Daimos, the anime which is usually credited with inventing the concept. It seems some things really were invented in Korea...
- Older Than They Think: In Japan, the Tsuburaya Productions Toku series Jumborg Ace featured the title robot having to be powered by human body movement. Granted, unlike many things South Korean's plagiarized, this series was-and still is-virtually unknown in South Korea but it is still worth noting.
- Now Which One Was That Voice?: The original Korean version, even all these years, doesn't credit which voice actors voiced all the characters from the movies, except in the later films. On the other hand, this is averted in the Japanese dubs, oddly enough.
- Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits: Two teenagers and a kid are sent into battle against the Red Empire after they infiltrated Dr. Kim's research lab.
- Recruit Teenagers with Attitude: Played with with Hoon and Yeong as the pilots of Taekwon V after Dr. Yoon recruits them since Dr. Kim was killed in a Red Empire raid on his lab.
- Super Robot: One of the few ones to emerge out of South Korea in the 1970s.
- The Promise: One was made to Mary that she can be human. At the end, Hoon found Mary's robotic heart with Dr. Yoon mentioning that they can do it.
- The '70s: The movie has that look, not to mention that it was one of the few South Korean-made animated movies made in the 1970s.
- Take Over the World: The main plan of the Red Empire which was the idea of Dr. Kaff after he goes underground.
- What the Hell, Hero?: A minor one when South Korean troops open fire on Kim Cheol despite his insistence that he's with Taekwon V and he's not the one responsible for destroying the city.