Sunday, July 14, 2013

Ac Kartallar (Starving Eagles)

Director: Cetin Inanc
Starring: Nihat Yigit, Mecit Yavuz, Nilgun, Sarayli

 Another of director Cetin Inanc's no-budget whacky wonders, this one designed specifically to showcase the talents of Bruce Lee lookalike (yes, a Turkish Lee-alike) Nihat Yigit. From what I know about him, Yigit was a Bruce Lee fan and took up martial arts in 1973 (the year Lee died). He apparently studied all manner of fighting arts including Kung Fu, Karate and Tae Kwan Do. After competing in various tournaments throughout Europe, he drew the attention of Inanc who saw strong possibilities in him as a screen fighter. His uncanny physical resemblence to Bruce at the time also could not be ignored (all the more remarkable as Yigit isn't Asian; perhaps Lee's few German genes made more of a difference than initially thought?). After featuring him as the main villain opposite Cuneyt Arkin in Olumsuz and Son Savascisi (he was shown a fair amount of respect in both as he was the only opponent to have ever even remotely given Arkin a tough time of it), Inanc decided it was time to star him in his very own Lee-clone epic (never mind the fact that the subgenre had died many years before).

The story; while visiting Turkey from Japan, a noted martial arts master is murdered by a rival clan that also happens to heroin smugglers. The slain master's top three students get to the bottom of things and take revenge. That's a about it.

Inanc does his best to meld the typical kung fu revenge story with his own patented sense of sheer insanity and it ultimately makes for a mixed bag of entertainment. On one level, you have bad nartial arts moviemaking at it's finest and funniest what with exaggerated closeups, swiped music from Enter the Dragon (and in the finale, Raiders of the Lost Ark) bewildering edits, overracting villains and some hilariously awkward fight choreography (one moment in particular had me on the floor as Yigit attempts to swing two men around ala Lee in Fist of Fury, but doesn't quite pull it off). Yet as entertaining as it all is, there is also a slight feeling of frustration since genuine martial artists were used and several fight scenes tend to be unnecessarily sped up (and i'm not talking slightly as in Sammo Hung's preferred method, I'm talking about full blown Benny Hill-like shenanigans). In the typical Inanc/Cuneyt Arkin epic, this is fine, but here it and the poor choreography tend to take away from the combatants considerable talents. Fortunately, this "technique" is for the most part eliminated in the second half, as if Inanc realized halfway through that severely undercranking his fighters wasn't necessary here.

At the center of it is a very entertaining performance from Yigit. His Lee impression is spot-on, more so than many of his Chinese counterparts and his excellent martial arts skills are placed on full view here. Watching Yigit do his thing, one wishes that he were given more opportunities, perhaps in a Hong Kong lensed production with top flight fight choreographers. 

Overall, Ac Kartallar is a fun time and will appeal to both Turkish Cult fans and Bruceploitation enthusiasts alike.

Rating: 5/10

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