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  Tarkan versus the Vikings tenacious turk takes on vicious vikings
Year: 1971
Director: Mehmet Aslan
Stars: Kartal Tibet, Eva Bender, Seher Seniz, Fatma Belgen
Genre: Sex, Historical, Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: This wonderful, comic book fantasy adventure is the superior half of Mondo Macabro’s Turkish Pop Cinema double bill, paired alongside The Deathless Devil (1972). In days of old, cruel and bloodthirsty Viking warriors roamed the seven seas. Lovely Lady Yonca (Fatma Belgan), daughter of the Turkish chief, visits a seaside fort. The captain worries Yonca is unprotected. “I have a whole army to protect me”, she replies, pointing to a solitary figure - the legendary, Turkish superhero: Tarkan, riding alongside his beloved wolves Kurt and er, Kurt Junior. Nevertheless, a surprise Viking attack led by Toro and slinky, Chinese spy, Lotus (Seher Seniz) slaughters hundreds, including brave Kurt. Yonca is kidnapped, set to be sold off to Lotus’ father, the Chinese Emperor, while Toro murders the rightful Viking ruler and declares himself king. Tarkan swears revenge and sets sail. After numerous violent and erotic adventures, he teams up with Ursula (Swedish ex-striptease artist, Eva Bender), the gorgeous Viking princess in a woolly, pink mini-dress, and her army of sexy warrior-maidens, to face down vicious Vikings, oriental assassins and King Toro’s deadly, inflatable rubber octopus.

Hugely popular with Turkish audiences in their day, the five part Tarkan film series is ripe for rediscovery. These movies offer a combination of historical adventure, Arabian Nights fantasy, scintillating sexploitation, gory horror, surreal special effects and delirious dance sequences that adventurous cult film fans will find irresistible. Created by comic book artist Sezgin Burak (with many shots and scenes here reproducing his panels), Tarkan embodies all the noble, chivalric values Turks hold dear, much as Sir Lancelot does for Christian knights. Indeed, Turkish pride gets a big up several times here. One could invent a drinking game based on how often characters remark: “I’ve heard Turks are very brave.”

Many leads in costume adventures are stolid bores, but Tarkan is an appealing, virtuous hero - played with panache by Kartal Tibet. He lends an impressive gravitas and sensitivity that makes potentially camp scenes wholly believable, whether delivering a stirring soliloquy beside Kurt’s grave, grappling manfully with the killer octopus, or sharing a psychedelically coloured tryst with Lotus. Typically for a Turkish production, our hero gets to bed all three female leads. Though the actresses disrobe frequently, and spectacularly, they are given equal opportunities to display bravery, heroism and skill. Each character makes an impression.

A theme of children avenging their fathers reoccurs in variations, with Ursula and even Kurt Junior spurred onto the vengeance trail. The wolf (actually a friendly-looking Alsatian) even suffers flashbacks! Amidst music culled from Thunderball (1965), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), and 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), cult movie connoisseurs should relish Viking orgies akin to naughtier versions of those found in biblical epics by Cecil B. DeMille, and hilariously over-the-top torture scenes. Characters are dropped into a fiery pit, strapped to a spinning wheel and used for target practice, have their eyes torn out by falcons, and - horrors! - bounced on trampolines. Tarkan himself is strapped down and forced to watch Lotus strip off and perform a sexy, but deadly dance with knives. Not the worst form of torture in the world, but it allows viewers to ogle pouty, voluptuous Seher Seniz. By the movie’s end, your one regret will be that no other Tarkan films are as yet available.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


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