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  King Kong Escapes King Kong Ping PongBuy this film here.
Year: 1967
Director: Ishirô Honda
Stars: Rhodes Reason, Mie Hama, Linda Miller, Akira Takarada, Eisei Amamoto, Ikio Sawamura, Haruo Nakajima, Hiroshi Sekita
Genre: Action, Science Fiction
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Naval Nurse Susan Watson (Linda Miller) is new on board a United Nations submarine, and she happens to walk in on the captain, Carl Nelson (Rhodes Reason) and his second-in-command Jiro Nomura (Akira Takarada) as they pore over their research into the myth of a giant gorilla which supposedly lives on a nearby island. In fact, they might have discovered the exact location of it... Meanwhile, others are taking an interest in the ape as the wicked Doctor Who (Eisei Amamoto) has built his own robot version to mine for a newly uncovered element that could fuel countless nuclear weapons - and the mysterious Madame Piranha (Mie Hama) and her sinister benefactors are interested...

You didn't know there was a third Doctor Who movie made in the sixties, did you? It's okay, though, this wasn't the time traveller of British science fiction fame who was the baddie in King Kong Escapes, but a different chap who was intent on ruling the world, or at least helping shadowy forces do so to his own profit. This was not, as you might have expected, a sequel to King Kong versus Godzilla, although Toho were producers on the project, but intended to cash in on the then-recent King Kong cartoon, despite the fact they bore passing resemblance (no kid sidekick here).

There are still echoes of the original Kong, of course, as there are in most projects featuring the iconic ape, and the most obvious one is in the shape of blonde Miller, filling the Fay Wray role. Once the sub reaches the island, our three intrepid protagonists go ashore in their nifty hovercraft-type-vehicle and are treated to the sight of a whole one native warning them away. I don't know where all the other guys went, but perhaps sharing their home with a huge house-stomping gorilla sent the property prices plummeting and they all left.

Anyway, Kong makes an appearance to save Susan from a dinosaur and takes an immediate liking to her, picking her up and carrying her about with him as if she were a doll, which coincidentally is exactly what she looks like when nestled in his enormous paw. The Kong suit this time around is just as goofy as the one when he met Godzilla, which does nothing but add to the amusement. The trio make it off the island with a great story to tell, but later return to find the big chap kidnapped! Who could have done such a thing? That's right: Who, finding his robot Kong a bit of a malfunctioning failure when push came to shove and setting up the real Kong with a mind control device to manipulate him.

What you're really geared up to see is the battle between real Kong and robot Kong, but you'll have a long wait. In the meantime, Doctor Who seizes the three heroes and imprisons them at his icy lair, but he'll find Kong more difficult to harness than he previously hoped. As all this is going on, with Kong living up to the title, Madame Piranha switches sides and begins to assist in another escape (a bit smaller scale, that one) and the stage is set, after too long a time, for a showdown in Tokyo between the two towering titans. As usual, Kong gets a raw deal from his encounters with humans, but any pathos is quickly shooed away by the absurd visuals and unintentional laughs. Gleefully nutty, King Kong Escapes might not feature as much clashing as you might have liked, but in its straight-faced weirdness it's pretty enjoyable. Music by Akira Ifukube.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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