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By Jay Slater | March 25, 2008

A number of Western exploitation movies were remade Turkish style. “Öyle bir kadin ki” (1979), the equivalent of “I Spit on your Grave” (1978), features more sex than the Camille Keaton vehicle and is considerably sleazier, especially at its running time is around an hour. The stunning Zerrin Doğan – who reportedly starred in forty movies in a year – can melt souls with the eyes of an angel… a dirty angel, and it’s difficult to keep your eyes of those delicate orbs of loveliness. The film was one of the first to feature scenes of hardcore pornography in a brief period when it was legal to produce and distribute explicit sex scenes in Turkey; hence it is difficult to find the original, uncut print. And one can only wonder if there is a hardcore Turco remake of Harry Reemes’s “Forced Entry” (1972). And if there isn’t one, there should be. “The Last House on the Left” (1972) was to be the influence for “Çirkin dünya” (1974), a home invasion flick where three hoodlums terrorise a couple and son – the Italian title of “La Gang dell’Arancia Meccanica,” which translates as “The Clockwork Orange Gang,” gives a good idea as to what to expect. What the hell – we’ll call it “The Last House in Istanbul.”

“Rocky” (1976) was ripped-off in 1985 by “Kara Simsek [Turkish Rocky]”. Bill Conti’s score is plagiarised without mercy as Serdar, the boxing hero, flips through Sylvester Stallone’s script while handling mobsters, training and belly dancers with considerable difficulty. Serdar was to return in 1986 with “Korkusuz,” a predictable reenactment of “Rambo: First Blood Part II” (1985) on the cheap with a hysterical finale where he takes on an army with a bazooka as if Turkey is crawling with unused grenades. (“Odinochnoye plavanye” (1985), a Russian “Rambo” remake with Ruskies as the good guys and Yanks as canon fodder, is a guilty pleasure.) The Turks also Stallone the finger in 1983 with their response to “First Blood” (1982): “Vahsi Kan.” Starring Cüneyt Arkin, the movie is filmed virtually scene-by-scene as the original and Jerry Goldsmith’s score is lifted without shame. Far destructive than Stallone’s vehicle in terms of physical carnage, it remains unprofessional but does boast kung fu and the undead, so it’s all good.

“Insan Avcisi [The Heart of a Father]” (1979) is Arkin’s stab at the revenge movie pioneered by “Death Wish” (1974) and the vicious Italian poliziescos by Fernando Di Leo and Enzo G Castellari, notably “The Big Racket/Il Grande racket” (1976). A man of few words, Arkin plays a cop whose family has been slaughtered by gangsters. Resigning from the force, Arkin buys a shotgun and goes ballistic in a one-man war that ends in a ferocious and bloody finale. Technically competent, Arkin’s anger is used for cathartic effect, as villains are disposed in suitably grotesque ways. One fellah is locked within a wooden box and fed to a furnace, whilst another has his balls sliced open on a band saw – a scene replicated rather painfully in Jean-Marie Pallardy’s “White Fire/Vivre pour survivre” (1984), another Italo/Turco coproduction. (“Insan Avcisi’s” ball-searing scene was trimmed for a TV break advertising butter and nappies on the Turkish print on review.)

Arkin followed the nonsensical “Holy Sword/Son savasçi” (1982), which is considered to be Turco trash cinema at its most magnificent/worst with “Death Warrior/Ölüm savasçisi” (1984). Words fail me. A cut and paste job of lunatic proportions with a ridiculous amount of padding taken from big studio productions, the film fails to make sense – but that’s small beer as the version reviewed was in Turkish with no subtitles, so everyone’s a winner. Arkin, who also directed and wrote the screenplay, (was there a script for this?!) is an undercover cop who just so happens to be a master of martial arts. And this is just as well as he spends the film’s running time beating the living daylights out of ninjas as well as kicking the head in of a furry monster. And what would the point of such a movie be if it ended there? The finale sees Arkin take on a nasty bastard with exploding rocks who turns into a flaming spirit (it’s creepy) and a papier-mâché monster does its thing for no reason apart to baffle the audience. And the production, that features the worst miniature effects work in the history of motion pictures, would appear to have been influenced by Sam Raimi’s “The Evil Dead” (1981) where the camera zips low-level through undergrowth, and in one loopy scene, plants wrap themselves round their human victims, smothering them. It’s nonsense, ludicrous and criminally insane, but “Death Warrior” is tremendous fun as Arkin cracks heads and flies through the air, karate kicks abound, mouth wide-open in joy as if a delighted child on Christmas morning. Best viewed with a twelve-pack and cyanide, the more hawk-eyed will spot Arkin’s thievery of taking a two-second scene from Lucio Fulci’s “A Lizard in a Woman’s Skin/Una Lucertola con la pelle di donna” (1971).

Arkin stars and directs “Kelepçe [Turkish Dirty Harry]” (1982). The influences to the Clint Eastwood model are obvious where Arkin plays a violent, chain-smoking cop. He also drives a Ford Granada for added coolness as he takes on gangsters who have supplied youths with drugs. Hell, even Arkin’s son is a junkie. Something has to give and Arkin goes to work with his Magnum and karate feet. Compared with his other action works, “Kelepçe” is a slow burner and shows more of a softer side to his character as Arkin gets sozzled on booze and even cries. And yes, Arkin even has the nerve to point his hand cannon at a villain and say, “Do you feel lucky, punk?” Or something to that effect.

“En büyük yumruk [The Biggest Fist]” (1983) is another hyper-violent and hyperactive Arkin action flick, which is hard to work out as to what is happening on screen, not because of a thorny plot, but due to its lack of cohesiveness and outrageous use of copyright theft. However, this adds to the movie’s lure. It plays as an ultra-ferocious and fully charged James Bond adventure as well as a movie quiz where Arkin shafts respect to intellectual property, forcing the viewer to guess as to what film has been blatantly chopped into the Turco mosaic. Such films as “Who Saw Her Die?/Chi l’ha vista morire?” (1972), “My Name is Nobody/Il Mio nome è Nessuno” (1973), “Violent Rome/Roma violenta” (1975) and “For Your Eyes Only” (1981) all get royally screwed and make “En büyük yumruk” all the more fun for it. And Arkin is a good Bond. Not only does he perform his own stunts and kick in heads, he sits back, drinks Scotch while reading a paper as two hot babes fight for his affection. A class act and make no mistake.

Considering the high level of violence in Arkin’s previous action movies, “Birakin Yasasinlar [Turkish Big Guns] “(1984) is a disappointment. A rip-off of Duccio Tessari’s classic “Tony Arzenta” (1973), it’s a dull and inspired effort, the Turkish language and Greek subs not being of great help (unless the script was the work of a genius, which is doubtful). “Rakeos (Kasirga)” (1986) is a shitter of a movie. Featuring a mostly unheard of Italian cast, this awful revenge movie is badly shot, acted, edited, lit and directed – it really is something. Ripping music from Andreas Vollenweider and Tangerine Dream, it’s so bad on every level that it had to be a tax write-off – sheer bloody hell. “Karpuzcu” (1979) is “Turkish Mr Majestky,” and whereas this shameless imitation of Charles Bronson’s 1974 revenge thriller features near hardcore sex (interestingly sourced from a scratchy print although featuring the same actors), its hero, Dilber Ay, bares resemblance to George Lazenby. For its running time of an hour, “Karpuzcu” packs as much sex and violence as it can from an explicit throat stabbing and an uncomfortable, prolonged gang rape. Ay plays a melon farmer who goes nuts when mobsters squash his goods. And as this is a short feature, he goes bananas when his woman is raped big time: cue violence and retribution. The opening scene, which feels like it goes on forever, sees Ay and his friends gather fruit. A busty woman holds two melons to her chest, smiling. It’s an unintentional and crude metaphor, but it had me laughing.

“Sokaklarin Kanunu” (198?) sees Arkin play a doctor who discovers that hoodlums have raped his wife. Not only that, his daughter flees for her life only to jump to her death. Needless to say, Dr Arkin dresses as if he’s Charles Bronson in “Death Wish 2” (1982) and cleans the streets of scum. The good doctor also presents his distraught wife with the heads of two rapists on a silver platter and she seems pleased as punch, spitting on them for good measure. “Sokaklarin Kanunu” is a shot-on-video howler and sucks eggs. There’s the obligatory rape scene but it’s hard to make out, as the scene is so badly shot, lit and directed; a fair description that fits the entire movie. Still, Arkin looks cool, even when he cracks heads in a nightclub to UB40 and Chrissie Hynde’s “I Got You Babe.” And for some reason, Arsel Video had the balls to release the film in Greece.

Turkey loves its superheroes in Part Four of YEŞILÇAM! Turkish Exploitation Cinema>>>

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