Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Dunyayi Kurtaran Adam (1982)

Just one example of this film's flagrant boulder abuse.

The Italians may know how to suck at a genre's teat until it's a shrivelled, black husk, but when it comes down to pure, copyright-infringing cojones, you can't go past the Turks. Throughout the 70s and 80s, Turkey plundered a lot of Hollywood films to make their own low-budget localised versions. Dunyayi Kurtaran Adam (The Man Who Saved the World) aka "Turkish Star Wars" is probably the most well known of them. That's not to say it's a scene for remake of Star Wars. It's an utterly bizarre tale of magical brains, exploding boulders and big red muppets, but it liberally salts the proceedings with stolen material from Star Wars and other films. The pilfered soundtrack is particularly egregious... the score from Raiders of the Lost Ark is used extensively, as well as sections of Flash Gordon and Moonraker.

The film starts with some random clips from Star Wars spliced with some stock footage of rocket launches, while a monologue explains how the Earth is being broken into pieces by evil space lasers and protected by a shield made of compacted brain molecules. Or something.

The best two Turkish pilots the planet has to offer, Murat and Ali (Cuneyt Arkin and Aytekin Akkaya, both major Turkish film stars at the time) are taking part in a thrilling space battle. This scene was filmed by thriftily rear-projecting Star Wars space battle footage behind the two actors as they wear motorcycle helmets with mouthpieces attached. This is made even less convincing by the fact that the Star Wars footage is in the wrong aspect ratio and little effort has been made to edit it appropriately.

The villain trying to destroy the Earth is the "magician", a beardo in a spiky cardboard helmet who is equal parts Darth Vader and Ming the Merciless. Murat and Ali manage to save the Earth, but crash land on a strange desert planet. Eventually they come across some stock footage of Egyptian ruins (the Sphinx, pyramids, etc), set to the spooky sounds of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D-minor. It should also be noted that the desert planet scenes are filmed in Cappadocia, and the idea that a Turkish audience would buy such a well known tourist destination as an alien landscape is optimistic at best.

Soon, about half a dozen soldiers on horseback arrive and start fighting with our heroes. It is here that we are introduced to the first of many fight scenes, which are played out with the skill and grace of a drunken bar fight at SpazzCon '08 (which was great, by the way). Their Turk Fu is so strong, enemies are wounded by punches that miss by at least a meter. Also, each enemy spear thrust is punctuated by someone going "wshhhk" into a microphone.

Eventually they defeat the soldiers and escape on horseback, while actors in cheap masks randomly roar into the camera. Your guess is as good as mine. Soon they are attacked again, this time by Cylon knock-offs, and captured. They are taken to an outdoor arena, where a bunch of gladiators engage in battles to the death. This is overseen by a knock-off Robby the Robot. Murat and Ali watch while the robot chokes a kid to death (Robby never did that) before leaping into the fray and mopping the floor with the alien thugs.

In the heat of battle they sustain a few wounds, and the subsequent gush of blood reveals to magician that they are human beings. This is important because he needs a human brain in order to break through the forcefield surrounding Earth. Murat and Ali manage to escape into a cave thanks to the help of a mute blonde woman. Murat starts making googly eyes with her while some sort of Turkish Obi-Wan Kenobi starts going on about the 13th tribe, and advanced technology, I don't know, it's all very confusing and stupid.

Soon enough, one of the magician's henchman, an alien made entirely of carpet samples, busts in and start murdering everyone in sight, including about half a dozen children, but by this stage Murat and Ali have escaped with the blonde woman and her son. The magician drinks some blood through a novelty straw, which turns the bodies of the kids into paper mache mummies wrapped in toilet paper. I swear I'm not making this up.

Now it's obvious that our heroes are no match for the magician in their current state, so Murat and Ali engage in the most hardcore rock-based training montage I've ever seen. Rocks are mercilessly punched, slapped, kicked and bench-pressed. Murat also ties some boulders to his legs and starts bouncing around as if there were trampolines hidden just out of frame. By the end of it they are punching boulders in half and kicking rocks into cliff-faces so hard that they explode. Such is the power of Turk Fu.

After Murat and the blonde woman engage in the most brief and dispassionate kiss I've ever seen, he and Ali head off to the local cantina to mete out fist-based justice. Scenes of the cantina are intercut with footage from the corresponding scene in Star Wars, which only brings the cheap Turkish costumes into sharp relief. Soon Murat and Ali are beating on all manner of alien beasts, including a hilarious fuzzy red alien. Eventually they are interrupted by the magician, who captures them and takes them back to his palace.

The magician tries to convince Murat to join him, while the magician's wife tries to seduce Ali. They refuse, and within a minute or two both are fighting some more aliens. Murat uses his unstoppable Turk Fu to chop off a alien's arms with his bare hands, and stab it with it's own severed limbs. They continue to cause mayhem until some budget Cylons appear and zap them with lasers.

The magician then renders unto them a horrific act of torture, which consists of putting them in some tombs and dumping a small amount of dirt on their faces. They defeat the magician's evil plan by sitting up. Probably embarrassed by this development, the magician then punishes his wife for her failure to seduce Ali by turning her into a monster from a completely different film. Then into a spider. I think.

Despite the fact that the two heroes have stomped the guts out of every henchman so far, the magician feels it would be a good idea to put them into yet another arena battle. This time the foe is the carpet-sample monster, which Murat defeats with the awesome trampoline jumping power of Turk Fu. Aliens subsequently swarm the arena and Ali is captured.

After some instruction from Obi-Wan, Murat and the girl are sent to find a magical golden brain and sword which they can use to defeat the magician. After some more fights Murat finds the two mystical artifacts. The sword is cleverly disguised as a cheap balsa wood prop. He tears up some alien shit and heads back to the palace to save his friend.

Once he has been rescued, Ali gives the artifacts to Obi-Wan, who turns out to be the magician in disguise. Then he is fatally injured in a random explosion. Following a tearful death scene, Murat melts down the sword and brain and dips his hands and feet in the resulting goop, which surprisingly results in a matching pair of golden gauntlets and boots and not deep tissue burns.

He then proceeds to bust a wide variety of alien heads, chopping them in half and punching them so hard that they explode. Meanwhile, it is shown (via some more stolen Star Wars footage) that the magician is about to blow up the Earth. Murat uses his jumping powers to dodge the magician's attacks and his explosive boulder-kicking abilities to disorient him. Eventually Murat is victorious, smacking the magician in the face a few times before karate chopping him in half.

A job well done, he says goodbye to the blonde woman, giving her a fairly apathetic kiss on the forehead. Thus ends the story of Murat, the man who saved the world through the power of rock-punching.

The confusing and disjointed nature of this plot review only barely manages to capture that of the movie. I think the script was taken in dictation from a hyperactive 10 year old breathlessly describing the best movie EVAR. Why does the magician need Murat or Ali's brain when the desert planet is filled with people? What's up with that golden brain? Who cares, let's punch some more aliens.

Turk Fu is pretty fun to watch the first few times, but the fun of watching a man awkwardly pummel a fuzzy red Chewbacca gets old the fifth time around. The film is about an hour and a half, but it seems like at least two due to the interminable fight scenes. If you're going to watch this film, then keep one hand on the fast forward button. Or just watch clips on youtube.

There's also a sequel, but before you start punching boulders with excitement, it was released in 2006, it's a comedy (intentionally) and it's currently number 7 on imdb's bottom 100 movies.

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