Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Silver Maid (Taiwan, 1970)

(Apologies for the lack of visual flair this time around, but, thanks to an uncooperative disc, I was unable to provide screen caps from this film. The accompanying images were pulled from the ever helpful Hong Kong Movie Database.)

For Hollywood, the idea of a martial arts adept preteen may just be a moneymaking novelty to pull out of the hat every couple decades or so, but to the Taiwanese it's obviously never been much of a big deal. Witness, for example, the young star of Silver Maid, Ng Siu Wai, who appears to be in the neighborhood of about twelve. Somewhat unusual, sure, but, then again, we've seen much younger in these type of films. And aside from that, Silver Maid, rather than being some kind of exercise in kung fu kidsploitation, is nothing more than a humbly enjoyable example of your standard martial arts fantasy of its day, complete with all of the plot elements that entails: warring clans, magical super weapons of awesome power, and over-intricate power struggles between its many and varied characters.

Our story begins with young Silver Maid (Ng Siu Wai) applying to become a pupil of the ruthless Red Devil sect. The Red Devils are an internally fractured group who appear to be held together solely by the fearsome demonic authority and appropriately fiery facial hair of their leader Red Devil Chief (Wu Pin Nan). At the same time, Silver Maid is also on a quest to find a cure for a mysterious ailment that is afflicting her dear old grandpa. Said cure turns out to be the elusive Fairy Fungus, which is said to be guarded over by "five poisonous creatures". When Silver Maid later encounters those creatures in an eerily surreal sculpture garden, they're revealed to include a frog, a centipede and a scorpion that can transform themselves into deadly human fighters, and a snake that can transform itself into a really, really big (puppet) snake.

Thanks to some really formidable magical kung fu skills, Silver Maid makes short work of these critters, and is able to retrieve the fairy fungus. This whole violent spectacle, with all of its preposterous airborne kicking, is witnessed by a couple of the Red Devils, who quickly realize that Silver Maid really isn't in need of their sect's tutelage at all. Could it be that she is a spy for their hated rivals, the Black Devil Sect? Meanwhile, Silver Maid's grandpa is revealed to be a legendary hero called the Silver Knight, and then everybody sets off in search of a magical superweapon called the Sacred Tooth. Ultimately, the Red Devil Sect will be revealed to be harboring a secret so secret that its members chopped off the ends of the English subtitles on the disc I watched so that not even I could be privy to it.

In her performance as the film's high flying heroine, Ng Siu Wai combines an impish glee with the kind of intermittent spooky menace that only little kids can pull off. Especially effective are those scenes in which she announces her arrival by trilling out a haunting melody on a flute, causing her opponents to freak out all over themselves. As far as her actual martial arts prowess, I'm afraid that's where Silver Maid relegates itself to the "not for purists" pile, as that's pretty much entirely accomplished via wire work and special effects. That's more than okay with me, of course, and I especially liked the optical effect that was used to show Silver Maid splitting into multiple versions of herself. Not that I hadn't seen it done numerous times before, mind you, but -- what can I say? -- a classic is a classic. I also have to say that it was very gratifying to see a Taiwanese martial arts film in which the character played by the female lead was actually identified as female, without her even having to masquerade as a boy at any point.

Beyond that, Silver Maid doesn't have much that distinguishes it thematically from the rest of the fantasy kung fu pack. Yet it does, thanks largely to the mystery elements of its plot, boast a strong narrative drive, as well as some tight direction and an engagingly brisk pace. (I would name-check the director here, but none of the sites I depend on for information on these movies seem to know who he or she was.) This surehandedness was particularly welcome, due to the fact that the film's fantasy elements lacked the over-the-top quality that would have made them stand up as the main attraction, being instead subordinate to the story itself. Though in saying that I don't want to short change the giant puppet snake, which was indeed the awesome.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Scorpions and Miniskirts (Spain/Italy/W. Germany, 1967)

First off, I'd like to welcome all of you folks who typed the words "scorpions" and "miniskirts" into Google -- while at the same time assuring you that we have a strict "no questions asked" policy here at 4DK regarding what strange predilections bring our visitors to our door. We're just happy to have you.

Seriously, though, you don't have to be a clammy-handed pervo (not that I'm judging) to be drawn to a film with the title Scorpions and Miniskirts. In fact, all you really need is the cognitive ability to register the title Scorpions and Miniskirts and utter the phrase "fuck yes". That said, I have to tell you that Scorpions and Miniskirts was not the title to which this particular film was born, but is instead a more grindhouse-friendly rechristening of a Eurospy film that originally bore the English title Death on a Rainy Day. However, if that still seems too good to be true, proof that the film was marketed under the Scorpions and Miniskirts moniker comes from a no-less reliable source than YouTube:

And it has to be said that the title Scorpions and Miniskirts, at once so generous in spirit and self-effacingly reductive, is much more in keeping with the general good nature of the final product than the more melancholy sounding alternative. Simply listen to Piero Umiliani’s characteristically boisterous score for the film (shaba-daba-doo-wahhhhh!) and you’re sure to get the idea.

Then again, whether you share in that good natured spirit depends a lot on how high your tolerance is for outrageous levels of sexism and xenophobia. In effect, the short version of Scorpions and Miniskirts would consist of a smarmy European in a crisp suit doing the Twist to snazzy lounge jazz while intermittently stopping to alternately shoot an Asian person or slap a woman on the ass. If the movie had come out in the present day, it would no doubt come across as a merciless parody of the empire-minded chauvinism of the original Eurospies -- much like Michel Hazanavicius’s recent OSS 117 films -- but, as is, I’m afraid it’s the genuine article, copious evidence of tongues planted firmly in cheek aside.

On a more carefree note, while freighted with some of the more unseemly prejudices of its age, Scorpions also testifies to the jet-setting, internationalist aspirations of its time, doing so in a manner that only an Italian/Spanish/German co-production about a pair of French secret agents partially filmed in Hong Kong and New York can. The first of those agents is horny, happy-go-lucky spy guy Paul Riviere (Adrian Hoven), who we initially meet when he bursts out of a coffin in the middle of a funeral and, for reasons that are never established, guns down all of the mourners. A helicopter then arrives to airlift Paul, still in his coffin, and deliver him to the office of his long suffering superior (Gerard Landry). From there he is dispatched to help out his pal, also horny and happy-go-lucky fellow agent Bruno Nussak (Barth Warren), who at the moment is being pinned down by a gang of heavily-armed Asian hoods –- again for reasons that are never established.

With this first group of pesky Asians out of the way, and with scant preface, Paul and Bruno then merrily set off to rescue Bruno’s latest fling, Leila Wong (Lilia Neyung), who, as we will soon see, has fallen into the clutches of the evil Dr. Kung (George Wang), the leader of an ancient, world domination-seeking Chinese sect known as the Red Scorpion. Said rescue is effected by Paul and Bruno popping up in the sect’s secret lair at an opportune moment, disguised as members, and engaging Kung’s monk-like minions in a drawn out punch-up, without us being any more the wiser as to how they managed to breach the presumably heavily guarded hideout in the first place. (Paul later tosses off a reference to having followed Leila’s captors inside.)

As you may have guessed by this point, Scorpions and Miniskirts does not exactly place a premium on plot. What there is of one is so vaporous that to even call it thin would be over-generous. As indicated above, major story developments happen off-screen, while our heroes are busy engaging in protracted fist fights and episodes of serial sexual harassment, only to be dealt with later on with a line or two of throwaway dialog. Thus is the film liberated from the tiresome demands of narrative and instead simply allowed to be a parade of leering sexual shenanigans and cartoonish violence (the latter of which our heroes take to with a characteristic movie spy unflappability, rendering them a preposterous combination of adolescent distractibility and ruthless, superhuman efficiency).

The great whats-it in this case is a flask of perfume containing a sample of human RNA, which the Scorpions hope to use to somehow brainwash the American Secretary of Defense into provoking a third world war. (Look, that’s what they said.) Said flask had previously fallen into the hands of a since-murdered colleague of the two French agents, who, in an attempt at subterfuge, had sent identical looking flasks to an assortment of beautiful women located in various parts of the world. This necessitates that Paul and Bruno travel to each of these women’s locations in order to determine who among them is in possession of the real deal, in the process assembling a harem that they cart along with them like chattel as they traverse the globe. Needless to say, many stewardesses, cocktail waitresses and micro-dress wearing nurses are groped along the way -- though, to be fair, a running gag is made of Paul’s inability to actually bag any of these babes, as his thuggishly blunt seduction methods see him constantly losing out to the comparatively suave, less hands-y Bruno


Director Ramon Comas is clearly attuned to the utter ridiculousness of all that’s described above, and imbues it with an appropriately giddy pace and hyper-real color palette –- while at the same time delivering some inspired flashes of trippy, psychedelic style that, in combination with the film’s frequent instances of light S&M, make the end product seem kind of like a Jess Franco movie with all of the boring bits taken out. For me, this makes the film very hard not to like, despite all of its shortcomings. Helping further is the fact that Scorpions and Miniskirts is so obviously twisting itself into pretzel shapes in order to be as aggressively absurd and flat out stoopid as possible. Witness, for example, the early fight scene in which a grenade blast leaves nothing left of a trio of the Red Scorpion Sect’s minions but three perfectly minion-shaped holes in the wall.

The strangest moment in Scorpions and Miniskirts comes during its finale, as Paul and Bruno are racing to prevent Kung and his goons from completing their attack upon the visiting U.S. Secretary of Defense. Interspersed with this mad scramble are news broadcasts comprising archival footage of Robert McNamara –- the actual Secretary of Defense at the time, as well as the widely reviled architect of the Vietnam War -- mixed with footage of a vaguely similar looking actor delivering scripted lines. Of course, the super agents ultimately succeed in foiling the scheme, and, rather than spouting the hate-filled call to arms that the dastardly foreigners had planned for him, McNamara, one of the late 20th century’s most notorious warmongers, instead delivers a message of peace. Personally, I think they should also have put a miniskirt on him, as that’s the only way the situation could have been any more implausible.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Nothing to see here

So recently I registered the url kittensinwifebeaters.com and began work on building a site that would feature lots of photos of kittens wearing tiny little sleeveless tee-shirts. This, I figured, would not only be a surefire route to massive internet fame, but also an ideal way of putting to use all of these adorable kittens that I found in my basement. Then the man from the health department came around and said, "Hey, those aren't kittens!" Embarrassing.

Anyway, it is for this reason that I haven't had the time to post any reviews this week. But I'll be back on the bike in the next few days, I promise. Please stay tuned.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Boy God (Philippines, 1982)

To give credit where it's due, Andrew Leavold has already provided a terrific overview of Boy God (aka Stone Boy, aka Rocco, Ang Batang Bato) over at his very fine blog Bamboo Gods and Bionic Boys, in which he not only summarizes the film, but also gives a substantial amount of background regarding its production. (And if you have any interest in Filipino film at all, you owe it to yourself to also check out the phenomenal capsule history of Pinoy B cinema that Andrew recently posted. It's absolutely essential.) The fact that Andrew has done all of the heavy lifting of providing a context within which to view Boy God means that I'm left free to instead simply focus on what a weird movie it is. Thus, in approaching the film, I think that both Andrew, a knowledgeable person, and I, a lazy person, have been afforded a chance to play to each of our individual strengths.

Still, what I will tell you is that Boy God stars Nino Muhlach, the phenomenally popular Filipino child star who we here at 4DK last saw in 1980's Darna at Ding, in which he co-starred with Vilma Santos in her last screen turn as the beloved Pinoy superheroine Darna. Like Darna at Ding, Boy God was produced by the Muhlach family's production company, D'Wonder Films, and, in its similarly superheroic themes, represents an attempt to capitalize on the success of that earlier film. As will happen with child stars, encroaching adolescence was necessitating a bit of re-branding on the part of Nino and his handlers, as he was rapidly becoming unsuitable for the cute kid roles that his stardom was built upon. The one-two punch of having him portray Darna's sidekick and then a magical hero made of rock seems, then,  to have been a bid to position him as a teenage star of crazy fantasy action films.

And, if nothing else, Boy God succeeds at being crazy. Although primarily a fantasy film, it also seems to contain within it elements of every other type of Filipino exploitation movie of its day. There are horror elements which seem to draw upon both Catholic traditions and local folklore, two-fisted action with jungle guerrillas firing machine-guns at one another, spy elements right out of the Tony Falcon films, and, of course, as in any example of Filipino popular cinema, lots of broad comedy. I have also heard Boy God referred to as a children's film, which it very well might have been by the Filipino standards of its day. But whether you personally would want to expose your toddler to it would be determined by just how well you think a film prominently featuring spirit rape would fit into their regular diet of Pixar fare and Yo Gabba Gabba.

Another noteworthy aspect of Boy God is that it is a veritable tour de force of low budget special effects, encompassing everything from crude drawn animation to crude claymation to crude suitmation. In other words, basically every kind of "mation" that could be accomplished for less than the cost of one day's catering on the original Clash of the Titans is brought to bear upon the task of realizing the film's menagerie of fantastical beasts and magical creatures. Unfortunately for my purposes, director J. Erastheo Navoa and cinematographer Hermo Santos wisely chose to blanket these effects in an obscuring fog of dim lighting and murky night photography, rendering it nearly impossible both for them to be seen in all their flawed glory by the cinema audience and for me to get any decent screen caps of them.

Our adventure begins when a strange, toga wearing specter impregnates a young village woman against her will, with the result that, some time later, baby Rocco is born. Sadly, not long after this blessed event, a spurned former lover of  Rocco's mom, village bad guy "Robby", shows up with his motley band of guerrillas to riddle both her and her husband with machine-gun bullets. This leaves Rocco's old grandma with the task of raising him, a process that increasingly involves her having to hide his growing superhuman abilities from the prying eyes of the other villagers. (As is frequent in Pinoy films, both A and B, village life is portrayed here as a seething hellhole of intolerance and malicious gossip.) Eventually young Rocco discovers that his powers are nullified when he is exposed to water, and his grandma helpfully explains that this is because he is made of limestone, and, like limestone (and Alka Seltzer), he becomes stronger when heated, but dissolves when placed in water.

Meanwhile, none other than oft-resurrected Nazi madman Dr. Mengele (Jimmy Wilson) is contaminating the water supply with a chemical that is turning the villagers into werewolves and giant vampire bats. Among the werewolf contingent are a trio of cannibalistic witches so unwholesomely smitten with young Rocco's plump dimensions that they end up -- in one of the film's most prize winning moments of utter wrongness --  tying his naked, well-basted 12 year old body to a giant spit and trying to roast him. While the basting part does the trick of incapacitating Rocco, the roasting part has the opposite effect, and he ends up kicking the asses of both the were-witches and their giant bat minions.

And at this point, you might be surprised to learn, the events of Boy God take a somewhat unusual turn. An old bearded sage type appears and announces himself to Rocco as Vulcan, "Elder of the Immortals". Rocco's real father, it turns out, was also one of the Immortals -- who appear to be a sort of Filipino B movie approximation of the Gods of Olympus as according to Ray Harryhausen -- and is now being held in limbo for the crime of falling in love with a mortal woman. Rocco's mom is also in limbo, I guess just because she's a woman. Anyway, the only way that Rocco can free the both of them, he is told, is to travel to the land of the Immortals and complete a series of arduous, predetermined tasks.

And so, with this, Boy God becomes a quest narrative of the least epic scale imaginable, with Rocco, now kitted out in junior-sized gladiator togs, marching through what appears to be the same small expanse of forest over and over again, fighting in succession an army of midgets, a partially claymation cyclops, and a pair of Siamese twin ogres. Also thrown in to provoke happy associations is a very Darna-like character called Janus, who pops up intermittently to aid him. Finally Rocco reaches the realm of the Immortals, where he is told that what he really needs to do in order to free his parents is return to Earth and settle this whole Dr. Mengele business. This he does, and thus effectively ends the "epic quest" portion of Boy God, just in time for us to have a James Bond style finale in which Rocco and the forces of the law invade Mengele's secret compound, do battle with his machine-gun wielding minions, and blow a lot of stuff up.

What to say about Boy God really? Out of all the Tagalog language films made for the local Filipino market, Boy God had to be one of the most eccentric candidates for being dubbed into English and set loose upon the international home video market -- admirably so, even. While it's not too hard to imagine that much within it was business as usual to its original intended audience, it's another thing entirely to put yourself in the shoes of some unwitting, Reagan era patron of Blockbuster who brought it home for his kids to watch, only to end up with therapy bills that plague him to this day. For us today, though, looking back upon the film with the kind of world weary sophistication that only prolonged exposure to the internet can engender, it's a different matter.

Or is it? To tell the truth, I don't think that any amount of distance, either temporal or emotional, can render Boy God any less strange. That is its true super power.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Chalbaaz (India, 1969)

Chalbaaz begins with the sound of the 007 theme, and the sight of Indian stunt film king Dara Singh in a crisp black suit, dispatching a gang of armed goons with cool but deadly efficiency. And then he wakes up. It turns out that, while he may dream of being James Bond, Dara's character here, Ranjit, is instead a hapless beat reporter for an undistinguished daily rag who still lives with his mom. Nonetheless, we will still, by the time the film has run its course, see him become enmeshed in a perilous international intrigue involving rival gangs of enemy spies and a much coveted figurine that conceals within it some kind of secret something-or-other.

I've mentioned elsewhere that Dara Singh functioned as a sort of all-purpose action hero during his mid-to-late 60s heyday, able to embody Hindi versions of Samson, Zorro, Flash Gordon, Prince Valiant, etc. as his films -- and their wardrobe departments -- required. Still, the makers of Chalbaaz made a wise choice by casting him as an everyman here. Even though their obvious intent was to churn out yet another Bollywood cash-in on the popularity of the Bond franchise, to cast Dara as an urbane super-agent in the 007 mold would have undermined his earthy, up-from-the-streets appeal, which was largely dependent upon on a charming lack of sophistication. Such qualities did not, however, prevent him from portraying the kind of classic Hitchcockian dupe, unwittingly embroiled in a web of international espionage, that he does here.

Chalbaaz's makers also benefitted greatly from a Dara Singh who, at this point in his film career -- while perhaps not developing into any kind of master thespian -- was becoming increasingly comfortable in his role as a movie star, and consequent with that, was showing an increasing ability to make fun of himself. Thus, in contrast to the monolsyllabic jugernaut who marched through his early films, dutifully hurling bodies left and right as the fight choreography required, we have a more loosey-goosey Dara Singh who gamely mimes along to romantic duets, cracks wise at his opponents during fight scenes, pulls off a couple of madcap comic masquerades, and generally takes part in a lot of good natured clowning around. This of course means that, as spy movies go, Chalbaaz is certainly on the more whimsical end of the spectrum, a fact underscored by its being populated by, in addition to a somewhat dopey protagonist, a seemingly endless parade of walk-on caricatures, from wacky bellhops and eccentric auctioneers to goofy newspaper editors and zany restaurateurs.

The problem is that, despite these comedic elements, Chalbaaz also wants to provide its audience with the kind of thrills expected from a straightforward 1960s spy picture, and -- whether from a lack either of financial means, commitment or imagination -- never goes far enough in either direction to set itself apart from the already quite overcrowded pack. I'd be curious to know what percentage of all feature films made in the world between 1965 and 1969 were spy films. If I had to guess, I'd say... well, let's just say that it would be an awful lot of them, of which I think I've seen an embarrassingly large sample. Among these, even the very cheapest feature some pretty over-the-top elements, which means that any contender really has to push the envelope in terms of absurdity to make any kind of impression. Absurdity and over-the-top-ness both being things that Bollywood has historically shown no tendency of shying away from, it's all the more disappointing that Chalbaaz so frequently can't come up with anything more to dazzle us with than an overlong foot chase set to needle-dropped surf music.

To be fair, habitual Bollywood bad guy Shyam Kumar does raise the stakes a wee bit when he shows up in the second hour as a ringleader with a small platoon of Mrs. Peel-like, female karate assassins. Not only does this further prove that no country with men in it is immune to the charms of Diana Rigg in a form fitting cat suit, but it also provides a precious smattering of exactly the kind of campy silliness that Chalbaaz would need an awful lot more of to make it worth me recommending it. Still, I should make allowances for the fact that the VCD of the film was not subtitled in English, and the corresponding possibility that its Shakespeare level dialog and mindbogglingly ingenious plot twists, had I understood them, would have more than compensated for the lack of purely visual stimuli. I kind of doubt it, though.

While my own returning to the Dara Singh well again and again is turning out to be a game of diminishing returns, it must be said that Chalbaaz will be less of a disappointment to some than to others. For instance, its song score by Lala Sattar, while no classic, boasts its fair share of real toe tappers, and its leading lady, Sanjna, is indeed easy on the eyes. More importantly, a training montage featured in the film's opening minutes will likely be seen as a boon to those ladies -- and gentlemen -- whose interest in Dara Singh goes somewhat beyond his ability to execute all the standard, federation-approved holds. And to you folks in particular I say, "You're welcome."

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Akrepler (Turkey, 1983)

Akrepler director Cevat Okcugil deserves our attention for at least two reasons. First of all, he directed the 1966 film Orumcek Adam, which is the earliest of three films -- the others being 1972’s Orumcek and 1973’s 3 Dev Adam -- that have all come to be referred to by the unofficial title “Turkish Spider-man”, not to mention that it’s the only one of those films that is actually named Spider Man, albeit in Turkish. Depending upon whom you believe, Orumcek Adam was either based directly on the famous Marvel comic book hero, and is thus one of the very first -- if not the first -- of the wave of superhero films produced in Turkey throughout the late 60s and early 70s, or it has nothing to do with Spider-man at all. Okcugil also directed the 1967 film Django vs. The Gestapo, whose title sums up everything that’s great about Turkish pulp cinema in four words.

Akrepler (English translation; “Scorpion”), is one of Okcugil’s later films, an un-subtitled copy of which just happened to recently fall into my suspiciously well-manicured hands. I really can’t tell you much about what’s going on in it during it’s first half. But during it’s second it turns into a revenge tale, which makes its events far more relatable. I mean, who out there doesn’t have someone whom they’d like to make pay and pay and pay for some real or perceived wrong that they’ve perpetrated? And if you say not you, you are a damn liar, and as God is my witness I am coming for you if it’s the last thing I do.

Akrepler’s protagonist is a burly mustache farmer by the name of Jamal, who is played by Kemal Aydan. We first see Jamal out on the town with his big-haired, chain-smoking best buddy and a couple of foxy mamas, enjoying the floor show at a ritzy restaurant. Afterward they all go back to one of their apartments, where one of the women shoots up some drugs and hallucinates her way into a Jess Franco movie, complete with lots of hyperactive zooming in and out on people’s sweaty faces.

While all of this is going on, a criminal gang whose hideout prominently features a cheesy scorpion wall plaque (oh what paths might their lives have taken had they never bought that plaque?) is committing a string of brutal armed robberies. What these have to do with Jamal is unclear, but eventually some of the gang’s members go to Jamal’s folks’ house, kill both of his elderly parents, and rape his sister, who looks like Turkey’s answer to Tina Yothers. At this point, needless to say, the shit is on.

In his quest for revenge, Jamal makes the mistake of turning to his big-haired, chain-smoking friend for help, only to find that said friend has secretly been a member of the scorpion gang all along. Big Hair shoots Jamal and leaves him for dead, after which Jamal is rescued and nursed back to health by a woman whose wardrobe consists entirely of red vinyl jumpsuits and leopard print lingerie worn as day wear.

Once recovered, Jamal resumes his hunt for payback, and also starts wearing a domino mask for some reason. As with most Turkish superheroes, Jamal’s wardrobe is mask optional (as I recall, in 3 Dev Adam, the Turkish Captain America’s costume simply served the same purpose as a lucky pair of underwear), and he mainly seems to wear his for the purpose of whipping it off dramatically to reveal his identity whenever he’s got the drop on an adversary. In every case, that adversary reacts with gasping astonishment at the fact that this identically coiffed and mustached, Jamal-shaped man is, in fact, Jamal.

To anyone accustomed to the wild, action oriented style of 1960s Turkish films like those in the Kilink series, Akrepler might come off as a bit ponderous and deliberately paced. While there are certainly a decent amount of scenes involving fighting and bloody gun violence (for some reason aimed disproportionately against old people), there is also an awful lot of dialogue and what appears to be actual plot separating them. Having not seen many other Turkish pulp films from this late period, I couldn’t tell you if this is a sign of the industry as a whole maturing, and as a result embracing more prosaic narrative conventions, or if it is simply something particular to Akrepler. In any case, if it is a sign of age, there is nothing in Akrepler that demonstrates a corresponding maturing of cinematic technique, as what we see here is the same homely, point-and-shoot style that we’ve been seeing in these movies since the get go. Even the grand tradition of stealing the film’s soundtrack from James Bond (Turkish trash cinema renaissance man Kunt Tulgar gets sound engineer credit here) is still observed -- though in this case it’s George Martin’s score to Live and Let Die that gets the workout, rather than the usual John Barry joints.

And appropriate to that, Akrepler’s finale is a crescendo of decidedly sub-Bondian proportions, with Jamal gunning down the whole scorpion gang, sexy lady minions and all, and then blowing up their unassuming, HO scale cottage hideout. Ah, but revenge does not come without a price for our hero. Whoa… wait. What? Yes, that’s right; Akrepler doesn’t even allow us the vicarious thrill of seeing our hero rain bloody vengeance upon his foes with impunity, but instead suggests that such actions somehow have consequences. Crazy, right? Wow, Akrepler, if I’d wanted to be bummed out, I would have just watched Turkish E.T.