King Kong Escapes (1967)

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Overall Rating 55%
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Ranked #6,316
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Connections: King Kong

Inspired by the Rankin/Bass cartoon, the evil Dr. Who captures King Kong to dig for Element X when his mechanical doppelganger, Mechani-Kong, is unable to do the task. Kong escapes and soon confronts his mechanical double. --IMDb
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Review by Crispy
Added: March 23, 2017
I have certainly been excited about the new King Kong movie that came out last weekend. In preparation, I've been firing up some of the Kong movies missing from the ol' M &V, and since I'm a slacker, you're getting this one late. Anyway, while the two movies of the remake franchise failed to impress, I figured at least the Japanese could give me some monster fun.

Shady dealings are happening up in the North Pole. Madame Piranha, an ambassador for a foreign nation, has discovered tons of Element X buried in the ice. Element X's radioactivity is matched only by its rarity (mere grams of it have been found worldwide). In order to mine the element, she hires Dr. Who to build a massive robotic replica of the legendary King Kong to drop into the ice and dig it up. Unfortunately, even Mechani-Kong can't handle its radiation and short circuits in short order. As Dr. Who goes back to the drawing board, a submarine is sailing by Mondo Island, the supposed home of the actual King Kong. As they're temporarily stranded while the rudder is undergoing repair, Commander Nelson decides to go ashore with his second-in-command Jiro Nomura and Lt. Susan Watson to look around. They aren't there five minutes before being attacked by a small but vicious dinosaur, but are saved by none other than Kong himself. Although the primate finds itself smitten with the pretty Lt. Watson, our trio is able to use Kong's battles with the local wildlife as an opportunity to make their mistake. Unfortunately, the news that the ape is more than a mere myth has planted an idea in Dr. Who's mind. Why waste time on a robot when he can kidnap the Real McCoy?

So did King Kong Escapes scratch that itch the others failed to? Well, if I was six years old it might have. You see, this was actually an adaption of The King Kong Show, a cartoon series that ran in the late 60s, and it aimed for the exact same target demographic. The plot is formulaic, inane, and absolutely ridiculous. We've got it all: evil scientists, foreign powers yearning for an incredibly overpowered radioactive substance, giant robots, a monster who understands English. And don't even get me started on how out-of-nowhere Madame Piranha's actions are in the third act. I tell you, I just about sprained my eyes from rolling so hard after this movie scraped the bottom of the barrel over and over. On top of that, Kong looks absolutely awful. I understand Toho not wanting to pull out their wallets for a project like this, but damn. Mechani-Kong fared a little better, but all of that was wasted away on a short fight and one of the lamest offensive techniques I've ever seen. He actually uses flashlights to shine in Kong's eyes and blind the ape. I told you this was childish. It's a shame too, because the two giants jockeying for position on the top of Tokyo Tower had a lot of potential to be an iconic kaiju moment had it played things a bit straighter.

Now, I typically try and stick to the original dialogue with these movies, but that just wasn't happening here. Still, I do have to admit that it's got one of the best dub jobs I've seen. I don't mean that just in terms of kaiju movies, a genre well-known for iffy dub jobs, but in foreign movies in general. The lip matching was dead-on and the voice actors were even able to avoid that fast monotone that usually results from trying to sync audio and visual. Now, that compliment does come with a bit of a caveat as our two main stars, Rhodes Reason and Linda Miller, are actually speaking English, making things much simpler to line up. It does, however, make me question why they needed to be re-dubbed in the first place, especially since Rhodes redid his own lines anyway. Miller, being a model by profession and not part of the Screen Actors Guild, didn't have the option.

So far, I've gone 0 for 3 looking on past Kong movies. Oh well. At least, the new one sets things straight. 2.5/10.
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