A ship is nearing the coast of South Korea with a very important cargo, and the captain and one of his crew share a contemplative cigarette as they muse over how lucky they are that the creature they are transporting is heavily sedated. Alas, they have spoken to soon for suddenly there is a deafening roar, a shriek of metal and the beast is free, leaving the ship in pieces and everyone on board dead. As if that were not enough, a gigantic shark is attracted by the noise, but the thirty-six foot tall gorilla makes short work of it and heads for shore...
In the list of movies to feature giant gorillas, very few hit the heights of the original, King Kong, as Dino de Laurentiis discovered when he attempted to remake it back in the seventies to laughable effect. Dino lived to fight another day of blockbusters, but other filmmakers were not so lucky, as director Paul Leder found out when he cashed in on the Kong remake with his A*P*E. Not that he made much money with it, and if anything his reviews were even worse, the 3D process he shot this with offering no compensations to a bored audience.
However, for bad movie fans looking for a few cheap laughs, this was just the ticket. The titular simian shocker is a bloke in a cheap suit, and the special effects are none too special, that is to be expected, but what may take you aback is how crass this is. If you thought this was really a kids' movie, be prepared for a constant stream of bad language (nothing stronger than "bullshit", but the sheer amount of it gives one pause), the lead actress playing, er, a lead actress called Marilyn (Joanna Kerns) whose film seems to consist entirely of rape scenes, and even the gorilla giving the audience the finger at one point.
No matter how often the alarms go off that there is a massive ape headed this way, he still manages to find people to menace, perhaps because the warnings are in English and this is set in South Korea (being a co-production between that country and the U.S.A.). All the way through there are citizens who apparently think there's still time for one more game of pool or a snack before their building is stomped, and they suffer for their lack of foresight. Meanwhile, the military, represented by much stock footage and toy tanks, are on the move to stop the monster in his tracks.
Mind you, they don't seem to have any sense of urgency and the amount of destruction on show would try the patience of the most generous viewer. The American Colonel (Alex Nicol) in charge spends ninety percent of his scenes barking down the phone - even when he gets out into the field he has a receiver in his fist - making for unintentional comedy. There's plenty to ridicule here, such as the bids for pathos with the relationship between Marilyn and the Ape, a prospect no less offputting than the one between her and her reporter boyfriend (Rod Arrants), which consists of practically non-stop snogging. When your film starts with a man in a gorilla suit flinging an obviously dead shark around, and ends with an incredibly protracted barrage of firepower against said be-suited man, you should have wondered if you were doing the right thing. Clue: you were not. Music by Bruce MacRae.