Director: Ishiro Honda
Writer: Kaoru Mabuchi
Cast: Rhodes Reason, Mie Hama, Linda Miller, Akira Takarada, Eisei Amamoto, Yoshifumi Tajima, Sachio Sakai, Susumu Kurobe, Nadao Kirino, Toru Ibuki, Kazuo Suzuki, Ryuji Kita, Yasuhisa Tsutsumi, Ikio Sawamura, Tadashi Okabe, Osman Yusuf, Andrew Hughes, Seishiro Kuno, Haruo Nakajima, and Yu Sekita
Composer: Akira Ifukube
Release Date: 7/22/1967
MPAA Rating: G
Utilizing a mechanical version of King Kong, the evil Dr. Who (Eisei Amamoto) attempts to collect large quantities of the radioactive Element X for his employer, Madame Piranha (Mie Hama). When Mechani-Kong malfunctions, however, Dr. Who decides to abduct the real Kong from Mondo Island. Only Commander Clark Nelson (Rhodes Reason), Lt. Commander Jiro Nomura (Akira Takarada), and Lieutenant Susan Watson (Linda Miller)—a young nurse whose connection with Kong parallels that of Ann Darrow in the 1933 film—can prevent Dr. Who from carrying out his maniacal scheme.
A Ranklin/Bass production, King Kong Escapes will likely appeal to enthusiasts of The King Kong Show—a Saturday morning cartoon series aimed at young children. That being said, the lighthearted tone of this installment may, at times, evoke criticism from those who appreciate the dark, mysterious atmosphere with which the King Kong legend is often associated.
While protecting Susan, Kong engages Gorosaurus (a leaping dinosaur known for appearing in Destroy All Monsters) in a ferocious battle—a sequence that will surely captivate fans of the kaiju eiga genre. (It should be mentioned, however, that the original King Kong contains a superior, though still extremely dated, fight scene involving a tyrannosaurus rex and the eponymous gorilla.)
Similar in many ways to a second-rate Bond villain, Dr. Who (no relation to the famous Time Lord) never explains how harvesting Element X would benefit him in the long term. Viewers may therefore question why Who, supposedly an evil super-genius, fails to employ Mechani-Kong for a more practical purpose than assisting Madame Piranha—representative for an unidentified country—in obtaining nuclear capabilities.
Also unacceptable are Kong’s physical appearance and bodily proportions, which, even by the standards of a 1960s kaiju film, border on the absurd—an aspect that further diminishes the credibility of Kaoru Mabuchi’s (already tremendously far-fetched) narrative.
King Kong Escapes is an entertaining, if tediously paced, entry in Toho’s line-up of Japanese monster movies. This offering should nevertheless be criticized for its cartoonish dialogue, unconvincing creature effects, and utter absence of character development.
Overall Quality: 4/10
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