The Plot: The second film after the massive success of Lipad Darna Lipa (Fly Darna Fly), Vilma Santos returned as Darna/Narda in Darna and the Giants. Directed by Emmanuel H. Borlaza, Giants was about X3X (Helen Gamboa) who infected ordinary people with serum that made them giants. The giants played havoc to the city and thank goodness Darna eliminated them before demonic X3X conquered the whole world. Now paired with Don Don Nakar as Ding, Vilma radiated the screen for the second time. Kudos to the tricky special effects that made the giants realistic. Ike Lozada stole the film though. His scenes were the funniest in years. Darna used a huge church bell to defeat him. It was unclear why the fat giant, Ike, were allergic to the sound of the church bell. Darna rung the bell to great effects, making the giant Ike felt excruciating pain in his ears. Darna then threw the bell on Ike’s head suffocating him to his immediate death. That alone made everyone’s theatre tickets worth every penny! And lots of pennies as the film became the top grosser of the 1974 Christmas festival. – RV (READ MORE)
Vilma Santos Stars in “Darna and the Giants” – Darna fights Alien Invaders and battles “X3X”, an intergalactic Warrior-Queen whose science performs genetic engineering on earthlings and turns them into Giants to bring the Planet Earth to it’s knees. Until Darna eventually kicks the crap out of her and the Giants. – International Hero (READ MORE)
The Reviews: “…Unang ginampaman ni Vilma Santos ang papel ni Darna sa Lipad, Darna Lipad! (Sine Pilipino, 1973). Isang pelikulang may tatlong kasaysayan kung saan nakaharap nito ang palagiang kalabang sina Valentina, Ang Babaeng Lawin at ang Impakta. Sa pagkakataong ito ay mga higante naman ang kinaharap ni Darna. Masasabing, sa pagganap ng aktres bilang Darna tuluyang bumulusok ang kanyang kasikatan. Tunay na akmang-akma dito ang pisikal na kaanyuan ni Darna. Nabigyan din ito ng panibagong bihis nang umpisahan ng aktres ang paglabas sa papel ni Darna. Sa mga naunang pelikula, kadalasa’y dalagita si Narda, at nag-iibang anyo lamang ito kung nilunok na ang batong nagbibigay kapangyarihan bilang Darna. Dahilan sa si Vilma Santos ang naatasang gumanap bilang Darna ay kinailangang ito rin ang lumabas bilang Narda. Sinimulan ng nobelistang si Mars Ravelo ang pagsusulat ng Darna taong 1947 sa magasing Bulaklak. Unang isinapelikula ito ng Royal Films noong 1951 na nagtampok kay Rosa del Rosario samantalang ginampanan naman ni Cristina Aragon ang papel ni Valentina at si Mila Nimfa naman ang gumanap na Narda. Masasabing tanging si Vilma Santos lamang ang nag-iisang aktres na gumanap bilang Darna sa apat na pagkakataon. Isang uri ng pagganap na tunay na nagluklok kay Darna bilang malaking bahagi ng kulturang Pilipino. Sa bawat pagkakataong ito ay tunay na inangkin ni Vilma Santos ang katauhan ni Darna na patuloy na nagbigay aliw sa mga manonood ng sineng Pinoy…” – Jojo De Vera, Sari-Saring Sineng Pinoy (READ MORE)
“Sine Pilipino got then hot young star Vilma Santos to essay the role of Darna. But the problem was, Vilma was hesitant to wear the two-piece costume. So, during their photo shoot for the publicity photos of the new Darna movie, she wore the Darna costume on top of her body stocking. Vilma was finally convinced by producers Douglas Quijano and William Leary to lose the body stocking and wear just the costume on the day of the press conference. The press people were surprised on seeing how sexy Vilma was in her Darna costume, which was back to the original red bikini and gold stars. Lipad, Darna, Lipad! (1973) is the first and only trilogy of the superheroine. It was a box-office hit on its first day of showing and considered a turning point in Vilma’s career. It was also the first Darna movie where Darna and Narda was played by the same actress. Unfortunately, there is no existing copy left of this classic film. Vilma starred in three more Darna films: Darna and the Giants (1974) and Darna vs. the Planetwomen (1975), which were both under Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions, and Darna and Ding (1980) under Niño Muhlach’s D’Wonder Films. Darna and the Giants was the continuation of Vilma’s first Darna movie and Darna again wore the gold bikini costume, while Darna vs. the Planetwomen was a rebooted version of the Darna origin, with Vilma’s Narda this time portrayed as a crippled teenager who was given a magical stone by a mysterious source. The costume is back to red this time with the stars on Darna’s bra also colored red and the headpiece, all gold. Darna and Ding was the last time Vilma played Darna. Her costume this time was sexier and more revealing. In this movie, she was joined by Ding who now has his own superpowers.” – Rico J Rod (READ MORE)
“…For the second time around Vilma, proves that her first Darna was no fluke. Darna And The Giants vanquished all of her box office competitors. Very creative special effects by Tommy Marcelino consider it was made early in the 70’s. Sex kitten Divina Valencia as one of the giants as well as Ike Lozada, Max Alvarado, Zandro Zamora and many more. Vilma was the third actress to play the dual role of a teen-age Narda, Darna. Gina Pareno had two alter ego’s in her own version as well as Liza Moreno played Narda and Darna in Sputnik VS. Darna. Vilma also changed Darna’s transformation in all of her Darna films by using a flash of light instead of the thick smoke. She dons a retro version of Darna with shiny gold and red costume and matching platform boots. In this film Vilma was no hold bars. Romy V. Susara and Leody M. Diaz choreograped Darna’s awesome fight scenes. Continuing where “Lipad, Darna, Lipad” left off, Narda (Vilma Santos) and Ding (Dondon Nakar) encountered their greatest challenge yet – The Alien Warrior Queen-“X3X” (Helen Gamboa) and her alien minions. In this latest adventure, X3X terrorizes Narda’s village and captures several of the townsfolk and transforming them into mindless Giants who went on a rampage across the countryside in the hopes of conquering the earth without the use of nuclear weapons. When Narda’s suitor Romy (Romeo Miranda) is captured, the threat of the alien Queen becomes personal. With a Global threat such as this, will Darna’s courage and powers be up to the challenge? Watch and find out!! “Darna and the Giants” Also stars- Katy Dela Cruz as “Lola”, and an all-star cast of 70’s icons with cameos from Leopoldo Salcedo, Edgar Mortiz, Eddie Peregrina, Nick Romano, Lotis Key, Tony Ferrer (as Falcon) & more. “Darna and the Giants” produced by Tagalog-Ilang Ilang production and directed by Emmanuel H. Borlaza with Darna Theme composed by Sunny Ilacad (Vicor)…” – Eric Cueto (READ MORE)
“…Dramatically speaking, Darna and the Giants is more consistent (and coherent) than the later Darna at Ding (the only other of the series I’ve seen to date). The early narrative focuses on the home life of Narda, the romantic advances of a local young man and the bothersome antics of Ding. There’s quite a lot of singing here (Narda’s wooer is a musician), including an amusing moment where the cast spontaneously erupts into a Tagalog reworking of Singin’ in the Rain while doing household chores. There are the expected comic interludes, like a guitar-toting suitor realizing he’s been serenading a homosexual man as opposed to an attractive rural woman, but fewer than one might imagine, and once the aliens have landed things take a more serious turn. Darna and the Giants actually shows us the aftermath of a giant attack before introducing the giants themselves, with Darna and Ding visiting an impromtu outdoors hospital for the many victims. It’s not a happy sight, as a husband watches his wife die in agony and a young woman searches futily for her lost mother. When the giants are revealed they turn out to be intolerable bullies who fight amongst themselves before being sent out to frighten the local population into submission. And frighten they do! The giants prove to be a nasty bunch, crushing people beneath their feet and using uprooted power poles to swat at them like bugs. Houses are picked up and shaken about with their occupants still inside, only to be tossed casually aside when the giant’s attention is otherwise diverted. The death on display is quite graphic for all-ages entertainment, and ensures that our sympathies are squarely with Darna when she flies in to give the over-sized miscreants their just deserves…I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t a simple political message to Darna and the Giants.
The film was released just two years after president Ferdinand Marcos instituted martial law in the Philippines. The resulting censorship of opposition opinions in the media (scripts for films had to be screened by the government before production was allowed to begin) would have prevented direct opposition to Marcos’ methods to be espoused, but the simple story of a 006giant army trampling on the rights of the general populace could easily have slipped by as pure fantasy. Even if not directly relatable to that contemporary situation, the conflict undoubtedly played well with a country occupied in the past by everyone from the Spanish to the English to the imperial Japanese. This was the big Christmas season release for Tagalog Ilang-Ilang Productions, and it’s obvious that a good deal of money was put into it. The plentiful special effects moments were devised by effects man Jessie Sto. Domingo and special photographer Tommy Marcelino. The giants are brought to life through simple photographic effects and, more frequently, the use of massive forced-perspective setups requiring hundreds of extras to run about in the background while the giants stand among scaled miniatures in the foreground. It all looks pretty quaint by the industry standards of today, but the shear enthusiasm of those involved is deserving of admiration all the same. I imagine this was quite a succesful domestic release in its time, the star power of the beautiful Vilma Santos being more the enough to guarantee healthy ticket sales. The rest of the cast is full of recognizable industry regulars. Divina Valencia [Pussy Cat, Queen of the Wild Bunch] receives second billing in spite of her few lines, but has definite screen presence as a giant in a Viking helmet. Max Alvarado, who seems to be in just about every Filipino film production since 1950, has a prominent role as a giant as well – a role he would reprise in the fantastic opener for Darna at Ding…” – Kevin Pyrtle, WTF-FILM (READ MORE)