Friday, March 18, 2011

Vahsi Kan (aka Turkish First Blood)

                                                   Director: Cetin Inanc
                          Starring: Cuneyt Arkin, Emel Tumer, Huseyin Peyda

Director Cetin Inanc has had a career that spanned five decades in his homeland of Turkey, covering all sorts of films (Action, Drama, Westerns). However he is best known (here in the West, anyway) for a series of wild and incredibly incomprehensible low budget films he did in the 80s with actor Cuneyt Arkin. The duo's most notorious work is The Man Who Saved the World (dubbed Turkish Star Wars as it actually lifted scenes from Lucas' epic). That however, was just the beginning of the cinematic assault on the senses (to say nothing of sensibilities). Here we have Vahsi Kahn. This film is more or less a remake of Stalone's First Blood, but with the distinct Arkin/Inanc stamp on it (meaning it's absolutely insane!).

Cuneyt Arkin plays Riza, a wanderer who is returning to his village home when he runs afoul of the local gangster's sadistic gang. Riza is harassed, captured and tortured until he freaks out (as only HE can) and escapes to the mountains. The army is sent in to find him. The head gangster wants him dead because of what Riza had done to his son. The "son" is a crazed, bloodthirsty quadripolegic whom the father has hidden away (once seen, this character will not be easily forgotten). Eventually, Riza encounters and befriends a woman (played by regular Inanc/Arkin alumni Emel Tumer) who is the survivor of earlier massacre, courtesy of said gang. Her character is murdered, sending Riza into even greater rage (if that were possible).

The rest of the film is full of wild, crazed, over the top action, combined with awkward edits, bizarre close-ups and disorienting camera angles. In other words, your typical Inanc style action. As always, Cuneyt Arkin is a one man army. A real life Black Belt in Karate, Arkin may not look pretty but when it comes to bigtime butt kicking, he has no peer.

Running at an amazingly brief 70 minutes, Vahsi Kan makes for breathlessly bizarro and supremely Psychotronic viewing.

Several years later, Inanc would revisit this material with Korkusuz, a Rambo remake. More to come on that one...

                                                       **** / ****


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  3. How is it this is another area of film I've never seen much about? Usually pride myself on investigating the foreign films in general and am not averse to reading subtitles but these films don't get even NICHE exposure here in the USA, where most people don't pay any attention to international cinema.
    Even the Video Watchdog only very occasionally has articles about TURKISH cinema. (When they do they all SEEM to be authored by RAMSEY CAMPBELL).
    Interestingly, Elia Kazan was TURKISH as was Henri Verneuil (one of the more underrated directors who did very commercial and highly disrespected productions because they WERE commercial)..Anyone who directed GUNS OF SAN SEBASTIAN, THE 25th HOUR (both with Anthony Quinn)and Belmondo in THE BURGLARS can't be a bad filmmaker! But that's as close as I've ever gotten to anything having both the cinema and TURKEY in common!

  4. You know, even among acquired tastes, Turkish Pop Cinema of the 70s is an acquired taste. As cinema goes, these are among the most incompetant that you'll ever see. I'd venture to guess that Tim Lucas is avoiding these films because they're tough to critique in the general sense. Ed Wood's films look like Orsen Welles' by comparison. The (HUGE) enjoyment to be had with these films are AS bad films, but that's really too easy a label to throw at them. As bad as they are on a techical level, they display an absolute crazed vitality that some 5 years and roughly 50 films later, I still can't quite believe. They're so outre that it's just unreal and I absolutely love them for that and the incredibly high energy level that they display.

  5. a real joy to watch, Vahsi Kan is another Turkish slice of madness. I especially enjoyed the filched snippet of Flash Gordon's soundtrack for old times sake!
    if anyone fancies a change of Turkish pace, I can happily recommend Kadin Hamlet (turkish female hamlet)

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    2. Agree Michael, it's probably the wildest Stallone remake ever and btw, I reviewed Kadin Hamlet in this blog. It's definitely different...