"Return of Jafar" was better than "King of Thieves."

Was too.

Was too.

Was too infinity.

Fine, do I have to prove it to you? The proof is in the title: "Return of Jafar" has Jafar. "King of Thieves" does not. Jafar was one of the best Disney villains ever. His goals weren't petty, and not only were they TOTAL DOMINATION OF THE UNIVERSE, he actually had the means to get there. You don't want to mess with Jafar, 'cause he doesn't play around. He was also one of the only Disney villains who didn't die at the end of his movie, and also the only one to make an exit remaining the most powerful thing in the world.

So when "Return of Jafar," the very first cheaply-made-for-video Disney sequel, was released...everyone had to buy it, because if Jafar was indeed coming back for revenge, the heroes didn't stand a chance. How do you fight a guy who can make every atom in your body explode with a wave of his fat red hand? Compare that to the plot for "King of Thieves": Aladdin finds his father. Stuff happens. The end.

Even the cover for "Return of Jafar" was better than the third movie.

"Those fools. Little do they realize
that they are right in my clutches.
I will destroy them ALL!"
"Huh-huh, look where
my hand is. Huh-huh!"

Maybe "King of Thieves" is preferred by most people because it has slightly better animation and it wasn't singlehandedly responsible for an evil, ugly practice of the Disney company reviled to this day. After this one was made for $50,000 and sold ninety times that much, Disney began quickly sequeling all its classic movies for no reason other than money, and still hasn't quit doing that. I mean, I guess I can understand the abuse that it gets now, but I can't hate it. IT'S JAFAR'S MOVIE.

Update: Another reason Return of Jafar is better than King of Thieves is because while they were released on DVD in the same package, King of Thieves was tampered with to make it "widescreen." Disney didn't expand the picture, they chopped the top and bottom off, so foreheads and shoulders frequently get severed--you can tell it wasn't made for this. The disc isn't anamorphic either, so it'll appear as a tiny square on an HDTV instead of filling it up. This decision made NO sense. They pulled no such monkey business with Return of Jafar.

Or more accurately, it's really Iago's movie. If nothing else, this film gave Jafar's sidekick a third dimension and a life of his own. Iago's role in the original movie was to get hit with things and yell a lot...this go-round, the camera pretty much follows him and we see him struggle with moral dilemmas and the consequences of evil. But first, we meet Jason Alexander!

Jason Alexander must have the best agent in the world. In addition to Seinfeld, he's been on a ton of other things...by Hollywood logic, a middle-aged fat bald man shouldn't be rating this kind of coverage. Here he is as Abis-Mal, the buffoonish thief guy. Abis-Mal already had a role waiting for him in the Aladdin TV show, along with a ton of other characters with painfully bad names. He would gain a sidekick named "Haroud Hazi Bin" and in addition to him, Al and his buddies would have to deal with a viking named "Prince Uncouthma," a greedy imp named "Nefir Hasinauf," a ghoul named (shhhhudder) "Ayam Aghoul," someone else named "Amin Damoola," and the real trophy-winner: a group of women warriors who called themselves the *snicker* the Ga *snort*...the "GalaFemmes." EYA HA HA HA HA HAAAAA!!! *sniff* Oh man...
Abis-Mal and his band of thieves have stolen a haul of treasure, but then Aladdin shows up and steals it from THEM. Disney Adventures Magazine ran a comic book adaption of this--or rather, they had one produced but only ran the first six pages. In the comic, Aladdin says "You stole that treasure from the Sultan!" He never says that in the video, but they find another way to excuse his behavior by having Aladdin throw the booty to poor people later on.

I don't know what Al did to his right arm but it must have been painful.

Meanwhile, Iago's succeeded in digging Jafar out of the Cave of Wonders--or maybe they were never in there to begin with. "Return of Jafar" exploits three technicalities of "Aladdin":
1) Genie said he tossed Jafar's lamp into the Cave of Wonders yet you never see it go in,
2) They imply Aladdin and Jasmine are married in the final shot because they're wearing fancier clothes, yet the movie never SAYS they are,
and 3) the original ending was not used. The original draft had a reprise of "Arabian Nights" sung by the merchant guy, who revealed himself to actually be Genie the whole time! No wonder he had that lamp. They used this ending for the end of "King of Thieves" but didn't do the "surprise," and it was planned...the merchant was voiced by Robin Williams too.
Anyway, Iago dumps Jafar's lamp into a well and flies off to Agrabah, not really knowing who to trust. As his bad luck would have it he bumps into Aladdin, who becomes screaming furious once the parrot is recognized by his retinas. And maybe Iago would have met his end here, if not for the fact that Al runs into a bunch of guys he slighted earlier, and this time can't escape from them. Iago could escape easily, but wait...would this be right? No, actually, would this be profitable? Hey, if he rescues Aladdin, he'll get in the palace, 'cause Al's such a pushover! So he rescues him with one dropped bucket on the noggin.
Al is indeed a pushover, and obeying Iago's demand "you owe me one," he agrees to give Iago another chance. He then locks him in a cage and says he'll tell the Sultan what happened. Of course, he doesn't get around to it until later that night when Iago escapes and lands right onto the Sultan's dinner table, making for the most awkward explanation moment possible. This is Ball Fumble #2, and Sultan actually wanted to make Aladdin his new adviser in Jafar's old position. So much for that. Maybe Al was just distracted by the fact that Genie reappeared with the voice of Homer Simpson.

Yes, Genie came back after seeing the world, because he misses his friends. They had to bring Genie back somehow, and this makes perfect sense to me. There were Aladdin books produced by Disney before the release of this video, and in most of them the gang was without Genie (and Iago) because those writers figured Genie would never come back to Aladdin again. No, the video has a point...I think he'd want to come back, for good. However, THIS time, Genie doesn't make a single celebrity impersonation because legal protection wasn't in the budget. Nor was Williams, who refused to be in this or the TV series after a contract breach. Dan Castellaneta, best known as the voice of Homer, could do a decent Robin impersonation, so Disney hired him. It wasn't spot-on, though. And there's one more thing...when I first saw this in 1994 my cousin said to me: "Hey! Now that he's free isn't he not supposed to have those things on his arms??" Whoops--I wonder if anyone at the Cheapquel Studio thought of that. Probably not.

Anyhooo, Aladdin and Jasmine have a fight because he didn't tell her about Iago. She's fully in the right to distort her face to Spumco proportions; when you bring the accomplice of someone that tried to kill your girlfriend home, she might want to be notified as soon as possible. It's whitewashed over, though, thanks to Iago who slyly says "Okay yeah, forget about true love, which is especially rare for someone who'd be forced to marry a snob otherwise. You really dodged a bullet, but just let this petty argument ruin your dream. And forget about that studly hunk whom you have full dibs on at the moment." Well, he doesn't say it so much as sing it. Not only was "Return of Jafar" the first video sequel, it was the first to truly need a fast-forward button. No kid would possibly sit through this next sequence if they could help it: a long, mushy, hacky love song, with half of it sung by IAGO. They could have easily driven off Jafar by singing a reprise, but it never occured to them.

Meanwhile, Abis-Mal finds Jafar's lamp...and finally, OUT SHOOTS JAFAR IN ALL HIS MENACING FURY!! The cheaper animation soon gets him, though. When we last saw Jafar, he was juggling planets and blowing stars into supernovas at will. Now here he is once more, and the first facial gesture he makes is THIS:

Nice work, fellas. "ALL THE POWER IN THE UNIVERSE...AND I AM BOUND BY THE RULES OF A GENIE!!" Jafar laments. He can't kill, make people fall in love, or bring people back from the dead. No, wait...Jafar can't kill on his OWN, but what if he just happened to set it up so something ELSE got rid of Aladdin? He'd have to settle for that...in the meantime, he'll also have to put up with his new master, whom he treats like dirt. Abis-Mal, however, is too dense to just throw that lamp back in the well.

The last time Jafar had Aladdin, Jasmine and the Sultan under his mercy, he had them all about to face doom by snake squeeze, sand, and crackers respectively. It must have been painful for Jafar to have to resort to the upcoming unspectacular murder plot, but it's what he's gotta do. He intimidates Iago into arranging a Carpet trip for Aladdin and the Sultan, to a spot where Jafar creates a whirlwind that takes Sultan away. Al chases after it, but falls into the river, and down the waterfall unconscious toward a bed of spiked rocks.
Then Jafar....saves him. I was just as upset as Abis-Mal to see this, but Jafar said "If you remember the PLAN, it is not TIME for the boy to meet his end!!" Oh, yes, of course, the PLAN. We can't take any shortcuts no matter how convenient they might be! I don't fault Jafar for doing this....illogical choices are a trait of too many villains out there. It's why they lose. But the only reason Jafar really lost in this movie was because Iago turned traitor and he didn't see it coming.

Anyway, it's not time yet for the boy to meet his end...sure, whatever. Aladdin crawls back to Agrabah with no Carpet (Jafar took Carpet too). As he approaches the palace, he's seized by the guards! "YOU'RE UNDER ARREST...FOR THE MURDER OF THE SULTAN!!" Now Jafar's plot makes more sense, but not for long. As he's lying in the dungeon, Jasmine shows up and says she was the one who ordered the arrest. "We KNOW you did it, the evidence is clear! THIS was found in your room...my father's turban, SLASHED!" ....Like Jasmine would ever fall for something like this. Seriously, Jafar, this is pathetic...and she bought it? Something doesn't add up here.

Ah, now it makes sense, sort of. "Jasmine" was Jafar, because the real Jasmine would never order her beau arrested, nor fall for "evidence" this bad. Especially since ALADDIN AND THE SULTAN HAVE BEEN GONE ALL DAY AND HE JUST GOT BACK. Jas couldn't be the only one to know that...doesn't somebody let the guards know when the Sultan isn't in the palace? There was also no blood on that turban, nor in the room. There's no way any of this could work...but it's working, lucky for Jafar.

Jafar chortles with glee as he orders Aladdin's death for the second time, and this go-round it HAS to stick because everybody is chained up. He's so happy about it, he changes into Jasmine again the morning of the execution to reveal his true identity to Aladdin RIGHT before he loses his head, won't that be poetic? In doing this, he leaves the room, and ten thousand defeated villains screamed in agony from Hades, "ARE WE ALL DOOMED TO REPEAT THAT MISTAKE FOREVER??" I guess he couldn't have really suspected much, because everyone was totally helpless. Except for Iago, and as far as Jafar knew there was no change of heart yet. Iago gets to work on freeing Genie from that round thing Jafar imprisoned him in.

Oh yeah....he put Genie in there earlier, when no one else was around. It was the only time Jafar got a full musical number to himself. This gets trashed like everything else in the film, but only because people can't comprehend the genius of Jafar in an old maid's outfit screaming "Granny's gonna grab ya!!"

Iago tries to break Genie free while Al is carted off to the executioner in a sequence that's supposed to be suspenseful, yet anyone with a brain knows Aladdin is not going to get harmed at this point in the movie. As would be expected, Iago defuses the nuclear bomb AT THE LAST SECOND!! Wait, wrong movie...well, same principle.

Thanks to Iago, Jafar's mediocre plan has been stopped! Except for one problem...now that Jafar thinks he's done trying to kill Aladdin, his next step will be to make Abis-Mal free him, and from there, the world is doomed. They realize they have to get back there and stop Jafar for good, but...yeah right, he's too much. Until Genie reveals that to kill a genie, you have to destroy the lamp of one. This won't work if Jafar's no longer a slave to it, so there's no time to lose! Before they get to it, though, they have to use the restroom...hey, who's gonna look atop an onion dome?

Abis-Mal doesn't want to free Jafar, however. Jafar deliberately messed up all his wishes for treasure on purpose. You don't find a genie every day, and he wants something out of this deal. So Jafar starts conjuring up all this fantastic glowing treasure on his own and practically fills up the palace room, while the good guys sneak behind piles of it trying to get closer to Jafar's lamp. But they're almost too late, as the awestruck dopey guy says, "I WISH FOR JAFAR TO BE...."
Then he stops. "Waaaaait, how do I know you won't take all this stuff BACK once I set you free?" Think about that...for one moment, the fate of the entire world rested on Abis-Mal. Kind of chilling.
Abis-Mal stutters, "But--but you said genies couldn't kill! You said that!"
Jafar hisses, "YOU'D BE SURPRISED WHAT YOU CAN LIVE THROUGH." Isn't Jafar cool? I just had to point it out again.

Maybe Jafar would have been freed at this point, but Abu tries to take the lamp, and the monkey is spotted. "THE STREET RAT STILL ALIIIIIVE???" Jafar goes absolutely nuts. It should NOT be this hard and his patience is at the limit. Aladdin's head would be in Alaska and the rest of his body in Anarctica if Jafar could use all his powers, but the fact that he's a genie is the only thing holding him back. These next scenes are the coolest part of the film, with the heroes constantly dodging Jafar's angry blasts. By now, he knows they want his lamp. He even blasts Carpet into bits--well, you can't kill a magic carpet, right? It'll pull itself together, but not right now.

Jafar HURLS magic everywhere and totally wrecks the place. You can't kill ground, right? Since every Arabian city runs under a lava vent, he breaks the ground open and turns the whole palace backyard into a volcanic pit. Helplessly floating on a large rock, this might be Aladdin's last chance to get the lamp--but he fails both times! Jafar puts an end to it by blasting the rock and making it sink faster. Hey, HE'S not killing Aladdin...the lava is! Right?

...So why didn't he go with this plan first?

As for everybody else, they're on a more stable platform and Jafar doesn't seem to be interested in them at the moment. Genie is "knocked out," which means he can't help. This happened too often in the TV series--he wasn't that much help. Genie explained this by saying every five minutes that he was "semi-phenomenal, nearly-cosmic." Boy, I got tired of hearing that....

But who's up in the sky? It's IAGO!! Iago grabs the lamp, and flies toward Aladdin, and every viewer says, "Who didn't see this coming"--right before Jafar blasts him into the wall! See? This is JAFAR!! You don't pull this kind of stuff with him!
Yet fried Iago just barely has enough strength to knock Jafar's lamp into the lava. He growls hideously, and is destroyed in a flashing display of angry fireworks. The backyard repairs itself and Carpet pulls himself back together. Happy ending from here. But Jafar put up one doozy of a final fight. Again, the heroes had no chance and are only alive because of Iago. They're fully aware of this and he earns a spot in the palace as well as the rest of the series.

I don't recall the exact events of the ending, but I think Aladdin goes insane and Jasmine turns into a koala. Maybe it wasn't so happy.


About a year before the video was released, a short-lived Disney comic book company came out with "The Return of Disney's Aladdin," a two-part series in which Jafar returned. I never saw this, and asked someone who did if Jafar did anything different in this alternate comeback. "Instead of Abis-Mal the guy who found the lamp was someone who looked a lot like Jafar. And he turned Jasmine into a mermaid...that's all I remember." Yeah, it sounds like the video was better.

I thought I had the original ad for Return of Jafar, but it turns out I don't...oh well, this is probably more interesting to you anyway.