Monday, April 25, 2011

Zagor: Kara Korsanin Hazineleri (Turkey, 1971)

Though I doubt any of you have been feeling a gaping, Zagor sized hole in your lives, the fact is that, back when I reviewed Zagor: Kara Bela, I promised that I would also review its sequel, Zagor: Kara Korsanin Hazineleri, and dammit, that is a promise I plan on keeping. To refresh your memory, this is a Turkish film adaptation of an Italian comic book depicting frontier life in the old American west we’re talking about, so be sure to take notes for your next history exam. The 19th century superhero Zagor returns, along with his trusty hatchet and his staggeringly racist sidekick, Chico, a fat Mexican stereotype who again sleeps and eats his way through the entire picture and also has a hilarious bit we’re he snores exaggeratedly. Moving on…

Some English speaking viewers might bemoan Zagor: Kara Korsanin Hazineleri’s lack of subtitles, but not I, as that lack allowed me to coast through the film’s various convolutions swathed in a cocoon of ignorance. I can’t really tell you what it was about -- though there were pirates involved -- but I think that my inability to focus on the particulars of plot enabled me to see all the more clearly Zagor: Kara Korsanin Hazineleri’s true strengths. Compared to it’s predecessor, I’d say that the film has a near perfect balance of talky-ness and fighty-ness, in that, while the talking parts are quite talky, the fighting parts are also very fighty, and also plentiful. I actually began to wonder if star Levent Cakir had a background in professional wrestling, so profligate was his employment of flying scissor holds and the like. It was almost like watching a Dara Singh movie, except with way more cartwheels.

But just as much strangling.

So, yes, there are pirates, as I mentioned, and a pirate’s treasure (in fact, the title translates as something like “The Treasure of the Black Pirate”), as well as a lead actress with tremendous hooters (not mentioned in the title) who spends most of the film being captured and/or imperiled. What is sadly lacking is a villain clad in a black hood, like the one seen in Zagor: Kara Bela, for easy identification. Instead what we get seems to be a little more complex, with an assortment of shady interests competing to get the treasure, and Zagor helping the authorities maintain law and order by thumping everybody in succession. At one point a gang lead by a fellow in a bowler hat and gondolier’s shirt tries to shut down a lighthouse in order to make a ship crash into the rocks, until Zagor comes along. Thump thump thump thump.

You're welcome.

Don’t let my glib assessment lead you to believe that I didn’t enjoy Zagor: Kara Korsanin Hazineleri. I did. It’s just that, given that the film was made during the same year as it’s predecessor -- and likely back-to-back with it, from the looks of things -- there probably wasn’t much thought given to shaking up the formula beyond a little streamlining pacing-wise. It’s pretty safe to assume that no Zagor themed focus groups had been conducted, nor was the term “reboot” kicked around. It’s basically just more of the same -- which, in the case of Zagor thumping people with his hatchet, is a good thing, and, in the case of Chico stuffing half chickens into his mouth while saying the Turkish equivalent of “aye carumba”, is bad.

Never have it said I don’t keep my promises.

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