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First Assistant Director David Tomblin spend most of his days off and
lunch breaks during the filming of "Return of the Jedi" (aka 'Revenge
of the Jedi' or 'Blue Harvest', if you will) on his own little 24
minute project which came to be known as "Return of the Ewok". Eleven
year old Warwick Davis inspired and stars in this fictional account of
him landing the part of Wicket W. Warrick (omiting the fact that he was
only picked from being a background character because Kenny Baker got
ill). It features most of the film's stars (except Kenny and Billy Dee)
in costume, plus Roy Kinnear, and some sequences from the Battle of
Endor filmed from a different angle (with Tomblin's personal 16mm
In the film, young Warwick is looking for a job. After trying his tiny hands at weightlifting in David Prowse's London Gym and goalkeeping for his favorite soccer team, Chelsea, he passes a Cinema playing "The Empire Strikes Back". Somehow, he can actually see the film being projected from outside, and Mark Hamill backs out of the theater 'for a breather'. Naturally, this makes Warwick decide to go into acting himself. He soon finds a talent agent (an uncredited Kinnear) who offers him the part of 'Ewok' and sends him off to Elstree.
Dressed up in fur, 'Ewok' knocks on Harrison Ford's dressing room, who in turn asks Mark and Carrie (wearing the famous metal bikini) what an Ewok is. Carrie tells him to try the creatures at Jabba's palace. There he finds David Tomblin choreographing a dance number, featuring two women only glimpsed amongst the crowd in the final film (one in a red catsuit and the other wearing a white wig with blue streaks). They dance to the original version of Lapti Nek sung by Joseph Williams of Toto (and I always thought Lucas was kidding when he said that scene was always supposed to a complete musical number).
Warwick stumbles onto the Death Star set where Boba Fett takes a shot at him (this is the only part of the film available on DVD, if you know where to find your Easter Eggs) and Darth Vader sitting on the Emperors' throne. Finally co-producer Robert Watts and his assistant lead Willow-to-be towards Yoda, who issues the Youngling with a galactic passport to Endor (actually California). He arrives just in time to find the other Ewoks (who all squeak here as Ben Burtt hadn't developed their language yet) and join in the battle. After blowing up the Imperial bunker single handedly (with a stick of dynamite) Warwick says goodbye to the Star Warriors on the spot where they took their promotional group shots and walks off to his parents, who have followed him to be on Endor.
For many years this elaborate Home Movie remained just that, with the only VHS copy thought to belong to the Warwick family. Now known as The Leprechaun, Davis finally screened it at the first Star Wars Celebration (Denver, 1999), and subsequently has taken it with him around the world on conventions (I saw it at the Dutch Starcon on October 23, 1999). After Celebration II, a four minute edit was made available for Hyperspace subscribers on Starwars.com in may 2005. This heavily edited version was accompanied by James Horner's music for Willow which didn't really fit. And to prove that the music dub was added by a fan boy, the theme rises and grows louder at the moment Carrie Fisher is revealed in her slave girl outfit.
Soon after wards it won the Pioneer Award in the Official Star Wars Fan Film Awards, and of course bootleg copies have surfaced on the Internet. It certainly is a very nice addition to Return of the Jedi, seeing almost the entire cast having fun on set (even Harrison) and even some alternate footage of the Battle of Endor. However, nobody knows what happened to the original 16 mm print, because everybody seems to have lost contact with David Tomblin. There is also a rumor that a 'sequel' was shot during production of the first Ewok movie, Caravan of Courage.
8 out of 10
This is a very charming little movie (excuse the expression). Obviously
not meant to be taken all that seriously, it's a funny story that gives
viewers a chance to see (sort of) behind-the-scenes footage from
"Return of the Jedi", as well as some priceless comic bits (like
Threepio demanding more movie star perks).
I'd heard about this movie for several years, and even saw part of it at the Denver "Star Wars Celebration" in 1999. I didn't see the whole film until 2005 at the "Celebration" in Indianapolis. There, I was lucky enough to see a presentation featuring Warwick Davis himself providing live commentary.
At the time, Davis said that an official release of the film would be all but impossible, due to rights issues and a lack of high-quality source material. Bootleg copies are reportedly available, but your best bet to see it is at a fan convention. In any case, I recommend this movie for fans of both "Star Wars" and affectionate "Star Wars" spoofs.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Return of the Ewok" is a 25-minute short film from over 30 years ago and it came out during a time when Star Wars was maybe even more popular than it is today, shortly before the release of Chapter 7. The writer and director is David Tomblin who worked as an assistant director on the "real" movies as well. The main character here is played by the very young Warwick Davis, who you maybe know best from the Harry Potter films today. But he also appeared already in Episode 6 before he made this little movie. With the young and tiny protagonist, I must say this felt much more like a family movie to me than a real addition to the Star Wars universe. However, the action and comedy is not too interesting and entertaining which is a pity with the great cast they got here. All in all, not recommended, but I may be a bit biased as I have never been a huge Star Wars fan, so maybe you will enjoy the watch more than I did.
It wasn't as bad as the Star Wars Holiday Special. I give it a 6 for the sheer novelty of it. In terms of technical achievement, it's head and shoulders above that piece of swill. But what really interests me is how the HELL could Roy Kinnear have been it when he DIED a decade before?!?!?! Incidentally, this is the only time you will see R2D2 actually being played, meaning human operator inside, by someone other than Kenny Baker. I know, I know they claim that never happened, but I've seen the photos. Lot of canned footage of course, including some effects made for Return of the Jedi but never used. The voice of Darth Vader is not James Earl Jones...no surprise there. It's hard to believe that the merchandise made for this movie ever made it into stores, but it did.
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