Aytekin AkkayaHuseyin PeydaFusun UcarCuneyt Arkin
Turkish Star Wars
Also known as: Dunyayi kurtaran adam (The Man Who Saves the World)
Medium: film
Year: 1982
Director: Cetin Inanc
Writer: Cuneyt Arkin
Language: Turkish
Country: Turkey
Keywords: SF, rubbish, low-budget
Actor: Cuneyt Arkin, Aytekin Akkaya, Fusun Ucar, Huseyin Peyda, Necla Fide, Mehmet Ugur, Kadir Kok, Aydin Haberdar, Yadigar Ejder, Hikmet Tasdemir
Format: 91 minutes
Series: << Star Wars >>, << Indiana Jones
Url: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0182060/
Website category: Foreign language
Review date: 1 May 2010
It's a low-budget Turkish SF movie, generally known as Turkish Star Wars for its notorious use of unauthorised Star Wars footage. That's not entirely fair, mind you, because they're also stealing shots from The Magic Sword (1962) and Sodom and Gomorrah (1962), while the incidental music comes from Raiders of the Lost Ark, Moonraker, Ben Hur, Flash Gordon, Battlestar Galactica, Planet of the Apes, Silent Running and Disney's The Black Hole. Needless to say, it's diabolically bad. I'd gone in with high hopes of being able to call it better than, say, Attack of the Clones, but no. You'd be better off with The Star Wars Holiday Special or Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure.
We begin with five minutes of Star Wars space battles and NASA rockets, with the former squashed into the wrong aspect ratio and so the Death Star is now a Death Egg. Meanwhile a narrator tells us space-age hippy gibberish. Mankind went into space and all "world nations, civilizations, races, religions" became one over the millennia as we: (a) sought the secret of immortality and (b) built nuclear weapons that made the world crumble into little pieces. An enemy attacked the Earth, even though by this point it was now dust and gas clouds, so to protect it mankind built a shield around it made of compressed human brain molecules. Does that make any sense to you? "The only power to penetrate through this shield was one that operated via human brain and will. But in reality, the enemies of Earth, no matter how strong their weapons were, did not have brains."
"The only solution was to find the enemy and to fight. The two strongest and greatest Turk warriors, with some other Earthlings, went out into the space to declare war on the unknown enemy."
Hadn't all the world's nations and races merged into one? Uh, whatever. Our warriors are played by Cuneyt Arkin and Aytekin Akkaya and we see them fighting at the Battle of Yavin. This comes across as being nearly cool, which is entirely due to the stolen footage and music. This ends with them crashing on Tatooine, although the special effects at this point aren't very clear and my first assumption was that they were climbing out of the ground as zombies. However I liked the villain, who says things like "If I possess the brain of a single human, I can conquer the Earth" and looks like a Jean-Paul Gaultier redesign of Darth Vader as a Hellraiser Cenobite on a budget of 20p.
This might be the highpoint of the film.
For a start, Turkish Tatooine looks better than Lucas's, having not only more interesting rock features, but the Great Pyramids of Egypt and the Sphinx. In a rare stab at visual continuity, our heroes find themselves on sand for the shots being intercut with Egyptian stock footage. They speculate about being on a planet of women and so one of them shows off his "whistle that no woman can resist", which hurt my ears and makes skeletons in capes ride up on horses to try to kill them. This is the first of many fights in this film and we see each skeleton die at least three times. You'll be disappointed to hear that the Star Wars flashbacks become fewer from here on as the film starts telling its own story instead, but on the upside we have random edits of a green zombie alien screaming at the camera.
Arkin and Akkaya get captured, which to tell the truth happens so often that you'd think they'd get embarrassed. Can you say "capture-escape"? Well, actually it's "fight fight fight". It would seem that fight scenes are the only way of progressing the plot in a Turkish SF movie. However there is one good thing here, which is the film's monsters. You'd happily put them in a 1960s Doctor Who episode. They're distinctive, memorable and have bold design, although I have to admit that I'm judging here on entertainment value as much as technical merit.
We now have a fight scene with gladiators, gore and a hilarious technique for breaking free of ropes. The film also breaks out its best subtitles here, e.g. "[more gibberish about brain and blood]". Yes, those are actual words we see on screen.
The film's now become an original story. Star Wars has been left behind and in any case I've only been using Yavin, Tatooine as descriptors rather than an attempt to imply that this film is overlapping in any canonical way with the Star Wars universe. It's not. It's just ripping it off. A blonde with bad make-up tends the wounds of our manly and now-shirtless heroes. This scene also has a moment that's funny intentionally, involving the theory that wars occur because people won't laugh. Unfortunately now everyone's attacked by mummies and a cookie monster, so our heroes run away and lots of children get killed. Yes, this really happens. Arkin and Akkaya don't return to unleash their karate skills and save the little ones, but instead just bugger off into the mountains for a martial arts training montage to a cheesy 1980s pop soundtrack. As an example of this, Arkin's training routine includes tying a rock to each leg, then kicking another rock so hard that it explodes. No, I don't mean "shatters". The filmmakers used actual explosives. I think this is meant to demonstrate our heroes' righteous fury at the aforementioned slaughter.
Meanwhile our villain is sticking tubes in the dead children and drinking their blood. My notes at this point say "make immortal zombies", but I've got absolutely no idea how or why. I'm not sure the director knew either. Oh, and the token female falls in love with Arkin because "she's realised she's human".
We now have a cantina scene. Impressively the filmmakers have actually recreated A New Hope's cantina set and stocked it with a (small) handful of aliens. At least they've tried. Nevertheless it's not hard to tell the difference between the Star Wars shots and the rather sad-looking Turkish ones in which it's either 3pm on a weekday or the cantina's been watering the beer and lost all its customers. However we do have an African devil mask, an outrageous Chinese stereotype (but alien) and the wood beast from The Androids of Tara (but red). Naturally they fight. After that, the villain teleports in for some more delightfully loopy exposition. "I'm immortal. I symbolize the anger, animosity, hatred, the desire to take revenge in mankind. My power is infinite. I possess all possible powers that have been accumulated since the first living organism."
With regard to that last claim, remember that the whole plot is based on brains having magical powers and our villain not having one. He even reiterates this. "With the secret of the brain power of those two earthlings, I can crush the resistance." There's also some wildly melodramatic music as he opens a small cardboard box.
Next: another fight scene. This is where I started wishing they'd cut back on the fight scenes, especially since our heroes inevitably end up being captured again. However you do get to see Arkin catching a sword and snapping it with his bare hands, then karate-chopping off the Taran woodbeast's arms and stabbing it to death with its own claws. The next stage is torture, of which you might have expectations given that the film's been a bit gorier than you'd expect and killed a bunch of children. Unfortunately the villain just tries putting rocks on our heroes, then gives up on that and instead buries them alive in three inches of dirt, then goes away. As soon as he's gone, they climb out and escape. However because he has to do something badass and the film can't bear for anything to happen to its manly men, he transforms his bikini-wearing queen into a zombie and then into a tarantula. (Why the two stages?)
The film now teaches us that Islam is the greatest religion and that the Koran contains everything we need to know.
We're getting into the closing stretches, so it's time for plot coupons! To defeat the villain, you need the brain and the sword. This isn't even metaphorical. They're a plastic brain in a box and an overgrown Christmas decoration that's nearly an inch thick at its sharpest point and would pass children's toy safety standards. Both are painted gold and pulled straight from the film's arse. On seeing them, the token female speaks for the first time and reveals that she's the only person who knows their secret, which would have been a dizzying coincidence if she'd ever got around to sharing this information. Arkin later fights with this sword, thus demonstrating that its shape would make it useless for cutting even if you sharpened it. It's an eccentric club, basically.
Pausing only for a dying speech, the film hastens towards the finale and... yes, a BIG FIGHT! Their idea of "bigger and better" is to have extras running around beforehand. Mind you, Arkin has a secret weapon. On putting his sword into a fire, it mysteriously didn't burn like the wood it obviously was and instead melted into a bucket of water, um, gold. Arkin puts his hands into the molten metal (!) and thus gains Death Gloves with the magical power of appearing and disappearing in mid-fight while Arkin's shirt changes from shot to shot. He then kills a huge number of enemies, many of them repeatedly through the magic of low-budget filmmaking, while Indiana Jones music plays over Star Wars footage. This is cooler than you'd expect, but we're still talking about coolness levels so low as to be homeopathic. We're told that the Death Star wants to destroy Earth. It succeeds in this goal, blowing up the planet (ahem, Alderaan), whereupon we're told that "the danger is coming close!"
Twenty minutes after I'd first started feeling actual pain and writhing in my chair, Arkin eventually kills the villain by karate-chopping him in half. This is achieved through the magic of Turkish special effects, so each bisected half of the corpse's face has a complete nose.
...and that's it. Sorry about the mega-summary, but there was no other way of even scratching the surface of this horror. Besides, it's not as if there's a plot to spoil. Oddly enough this film's writer was also its lead actor, Arkin, who's apparently a well-known Turkish actor with a career that to date has spanned five decades. This explains a lot, since he's extremely watchable. Cheesy and overly macho, yes, but he has screen presence and some highly entertaining facial expressions. Surprisingly for such a terrible movie, apart from Token Female, the acting is competent and the two leads are actually pretty good.
There's also some rather Star Trek-like philosophy, in which our heroes punctuate their 10000000 fight scenes with moralising about how we must fight evil and that evil can never defeat good. I originally used a quote from the subtitles there, but it was too nonsensical even for me and looked weird. However on the other hand there's all that macho sex talk. These guys fill the air with so much bullshit about the ladies that you might wonder if they're over-compensating for something. Overall I've probably made this film sound like the most awesome thing ever, but even by cult rubbish standards it's at least twenty minutes too long. The fight scenes end up dragging and that's quite a problem when that's almost all of the plot. The music's good, mind you. It's like watching an amateur fan film, except with better acting and a worse storyline.
I do not in any way recommend this film. It's a train wreck. However I realise that some of you will now never be able to rest until you've seen it. Turkey would incidentally appear to be a giant of cult cinema, with its other masterpieces including versions of Batman, two different Phantoms (with the same title, released in the same year!), The Exorcist, Spider-Man, Star Trek, The Wizard of Oz and if you're desperate even a 2006 sequel to this very film. I'm sure any or all of them are liable to be as mad as this, so for instance Turkish Spider-Man (aka. "3 Dev Adam") also stars Turkish actors playing Captain America and El Santo.
To be fair though, I'm looking forward to Turkish Wizard of Oz.