Banglar King Kong (Review)
Banglar King Kong
Directed by Iftekar Jahan
The movie. The myth. The legend. Banglar King Kong! Yes, folks, we have an awesome treat for you today on TarsTarkas.NET! Straight from the heart of Bangladesh comes this Kong-tastic take on everyone’s favorite giant ape. The story of King Kong is timeless, and Kongs have appeared throughout the world, some more official than others. Is Banglar King Kong licensed and legal? Hell no! But it exists anyway and mirrors the plot of the King Kong films so closely that even without subtitles, you know exactly what is going on. The tale of King Kong will be one of those things that people 300 years from now will know. In future digi-hologram movies, Space Kong will climb to the top of the Space Elevator and toss around Starship Enterprises, and you know things will play out just like the 1933 classic. And it will be glorious.
Unofficial King Kong knockoffs have existed in foreign markets since 1933’s Wasei Kingu Kongu (和製キング・コング aka Japanese King Kong), which along with the 1938 King Kong Appears in Edo (江戸に現れたキングコング aka Edo ni Arawareta Kingu Kongu) are pre-WW2 tales that have not been seen since their initial theatrical runs. As we all know, Japan made two real King Kong films much later. Giant apes and Kong-ish story lines appear in such cinema classics as India’s Shikari, the Korean film A*P*E, the farcical Queen Kong, and the microbudget The Mighty Gorga. There might even be one in India’s 1953 film Gorilla. As far as I know, this is the first giant ape in Bangladeshi cinema.
The costume for Banglar King Kong is among the worst ape costumes ever put on film. I say among the worst, because there is no doubt a low budget Indian horror film (probably by Harinam Singh) that will have a worse ape costume. But it is by far the worse King Kong costume that ever existed. From the sneering mask to the visible spaces for socks, the whole thing is a Halloween disaster. Though I do give them props for the blinking eyes, that was a nice touch and made the ape have some actual feelings on display. We give credit where credit is due on TarsTarkas.NET.
The director Iftekar Jahan has directed several other films, of which I can find little information thanks to a billion sites copying the same Banglar King Kong article and clogging up Google. The actors is even a bigger mess, despite some of them having names spelled different every time I saw it typed out, I can find little information on any of them. What we do know is that Banglar King Kong was produced by Sharmin Osman for the Bangladesh Film Development Corporation (BFDC), the main government body that overseas much of Banglar cinema, so this is some government funded B-grade fun! TarsTarkas.NET has encountered Banglar film once before, the actionfest Banglar Hero. And one of the stars of Banglar Hero, Tubby Buddy, has a role in Banglar King Kong playing another comic relief character. I still cannot figure out who is playing him. Of the cast list: Munmun, Danny Sedak, Shamim Osman, Afzal Sharif and Kazi Hayat, I was only able to identify Munmun as Milly and Kazi Hayat as the lead female tribeswoman Tubby Buddy pairs up with.
When you watch Banglar King Kong, try to keep in mind this film was made in 2010. But between the scratches on the print, the mistimed dubbing, and the blue screen effects that fan films put to shame, you could swear up and down that this is a product of 1961. Only the musical numbers, which were shot with some sort of HD camera and with professional lighting, look modern. But even those snippets are transferred from a film negative, and have scratches – though not nearly as much as the rest of Banglar King Kong, which looks like the print was shot up by helicopters and dumped off the top of a random tall building.
The non-singing soundtrack is 100% stolen. I recognized the themes from Gladiator, Empire Strikes Back, James Bond, King Kong 1976, Last of the Mohicans, and 2001 among those that were playing. I’m guessing they weren’t banking on an international release… The vcd must have been encoded by the anipal monkey Buntoo himself, because it is rife with errors and digital trash. The images suffer as well, with this 2 1/2 hour film compresses to just two vcds. I did my best to get clear shots, but as you can see, there is no refined BluRay clarity. Sometimes the discs have sounds problems so bad we might as well be getting the audio from the next theater over!
Just to show you how awesome things are, the company G Series steals their logo from Paramount Films. I’ve never seen a film company steal a logo before. But there we are.
Milly is a bored Banglar 20-something living at home with a normal life, until her friend Tubby Buddy stops by. Tubby Buddy works for a film company, and they need a woman to put in their new movie – starring Mr. Rocky! Everyone loves Mr. Rocky! She agrees, and dad Rakul will go along to make sure nothing bad happens to his daughter. This is among the bigger deviations from the traditional story, I suspect because having the Milly/Ann character be a street urchin who is caught stealing food would not have nearly the same level of cultural sympathy as in the US. We have to make sure Milly is as wholesome as possible to get the audience to care. I could be wrong, but that’s my guess. In addition, this scene features a stuffed toy dog on the living room table that looks pretty cool. want that dog.
The ship is a cruise ship, except when stock footage uses shots of a different ship. In any event, it’s time for a music video about…boats… or something. This is the first musical number in the film, and it sets the tone for the rest of the musical numbers. Completely goofy, but shot on far better film stock (probably digital HD cameras) with professional lighting (the rest of the film looks like it is lit by one lamp, if at all!) Everyone just has fun and dances and smiles. The actors look like they are in a way better mood during these musical shots vs. the rest of the film.
The director begins setting up shots for the film, dressing Milly and Rocky up in costumes. Rocky has black leather cowboy costume, like Neo in the Old West Matrix, complete with fencing sword and giant dollar sign belt buckle. Milly’s costume is a bright red-orange dress with cowgirl hat. But the ship is sailing into danger. Yes, this three hour tour has hit weather that is getting rough, and the stock footage ship is tossed! Tossed right onto an uncharted isle! The theme from Last of the Mohicans blares out to tell us how lost they are. It is a lost island of souls. No, wait, it’s just an island. But I’m sure some lost souls will show up sometime. Any day now.
Despite the fact they are lost, they start filming the movie anyway. Because, why not? Besides filming, they wander around the island’s forest and streams. We know the island is dangerous because of the nature documentary footage of a snake eating a parrot set to a stolen film score I don’t recognize. Danger! Parrot danger! Also there is a white bunny there! Milly runs after it, having never seen Monty Python’s Holy Grail! The fool, the poor poor fool. She isn’t murdered, but the film crew is ambushed by natives! The natives are promptly massacred with the film crews’ guns! Rocky also beats up and kills many natives to protect Milly, and the pair hide by a waterfall.
A storm comes as we see via stock footage of a storm and the clouds badly digitally edited into the background of the natives wandering around looking for Rocky and Milly.
A Lemur! It scares Milly while Rocky laughs and explains that the animal is harmless. Or is it??? Milly goes to sleep and dreams, so it’s time for another musical number in high definition film stock! Her and rocky run around on a beach and it’s love. LOVE!!!!
In the morning, Rocky gets bananas, then they’re attacked by more natives! Rocky beats and punches and slices and stabs a whole host of natives as the undercranked camera makes the action look faster, and the goofiness of bodies flying around makes it all a big cartoon. I’m just waiting for the Acme Batman costume. They also play some Empire Strikes Back score as they fight, so I’m now having Hoth flashbacks and wampa night terrors. There are too many natives for even Rocky to defeat, so they grab Milly and take her to the sacrifice area to give to King Kong. The natives jump around and go “ack!” a lot – are they based on Bill the Cat on caffeine? I must also point out the most realistic skull ever on the head of the staff of the native chief.
King Kong arrives…boy does he arrive! Holy fraknuts is this an awful monkey costume! The immobile mask, except for yellow eyes. Yellow eyes! He had yellow eyes! And an overly scarred right half of his face, showing someone watched Peter Jackson’s King Kong when designing the mask! From the mask’s many wrinkles and scrunched face, we can assumed this is a very old Kong who is constantly smelling something awful.
King Kong grabs Milly and wanders off with the Milly Barbie doll, dropping her off at the Kong Cave. Then they steal the scenes where Kong imitates Milly’s physical movements. He then gets her bananas, as inspired by Gwen Stephani. So she briefly sings to him, but this part is suspiciously not shot in HD, because it’s just a classic melody and not a radio single.
The crew decides they don’t give a frak about saving Milly, so the Captain and his first officer Mr. Jones are the only ones who will help Rocky. Then the natives attack the crew, beating some up and even killing one before being driven off by the Captain. This action prevents them from helping Rocky. Tubby Buddy is a lazy moron who gets menaced by a crocodile and a snake, then is capture by a bunch of amazon tribeswomen in a turn of events not from any of the other Kong movies!
Milly and Kong play hide and seek, which turns into a song sequence with HQ video! Kong dances….badly… But where else will you see King Kong music videos? The giant Kong hand they build for this film is another piece of wonder. It has wobbly wobbly fingers that shake when Milly sits on it. Kong even gets Milly flowers, but she is also secretly dancing with Rocky.
Rocky tries to rescue Milly as Kong goes to get more food, but her dress gets caught on a bush so she stays behind and acts all innocent. King Kong is mad that night, the two “hmfph” at each other and keep adjusting their seats so they aren’t facing the same way. It’s funny, and is about the depth of characterization we’ll get for King Kong. Sigh…
Then a giant snake attacks! A giant fake cartoon screaming snake! Kong is like “WTF?” and strangles a giant rubber version of the snake! He rips off its head, cuz he’s KING KONG! This Kong totally has something on Denzel Washington’s character in Training Day, unlike those other Kongs. Kong-posters. Pretenders to the throne.
Rocky finds an injured monkey and nurses it back to health with water, thus claiming an anipal for the film! It’s Buntoo the monkey. Buntoo leads him to fruit, and Rocky uses the monkey to pass a note to Milly. Milly tells Kong it’s nap time, so they go to sleep, with Kong instantly snoring. While Kong is asleep, the mask goes flat and it looks horrifying!
Milly sneaks off with Rocky, and the two have another musical interlude that completely doesn’t fit, with the different clothes and daytime instead of night in addition to the jarring video quality and the characters acting with energy and fun vs the more boring characters in the actual film. And if they hadn’t wasted all that time singing, then they’d have gotten father away as King Kong is coming to get them! They hide in a cave and Kong tries to reach in with his Kong hand.
So Rocky sets Kong’s arm on fire!
CGI fire! (Mostly) Kong runs to a lake to put it out, and the pair escape to the boat while Kong goes back to the cave to try to look inside. The Captain is like “let’s kidnap Kong!”, so Milly and Rocky are sent back to get him.
Milly lures King Kong to the beach, and convinces Kong to pour chloroform all over his face because she says it is water! This actually happens! Then his face starts smoking! Luckily, King Kong is knocked out before the chloroform sets him on fire or something else horrible.
But while they were getting Kong, natives attack and sunk their boat, and fatally wounded Milly’s father, who dies in her arms. Tubby Buddy is in tribe dressed up in costume with the amazon women, and the only way he can see to make the now-stranded crew less miserable is to do a song and dance with the lead amazon woman, also in high quality. The entire tribe joins in. The miserable crew finally starts joining in on the dancing during the final verse.
After the dance, a boat arrives to rescue everyone! The natives wave goodbye, and the lead amazon woman is going with Tubby Buddy back to Bangladesh. Their story ends here, as we don’t see either character again. Anipal Buntoo is also there! No, wait, just a delusion! No, wait, he shows up later in the film, so it is not a delusion, even though the monkey fades away from view.
At this point, Banglar King Kong has 20 minutes to escape and be murdered, but they didn’t even bother to show him chained in the ship. We don’t even know that Captain got him off the island until after Milly tells her mom that her dad died on the island. Then Rocky sees the ad for the King Kong stage show! Thrill as Rocky copies down the entire mobile number for the Captain and repeats it out loud!
Milly is mad mad mad at the Captain, even though she was involved in the kidnapping and drugging of Kong. By now, the Captain is bad so he is dressing in all black and has an eviler hairdo. Milly and Rocky use the anipal monkey to steal tickets to the King Kong stage show. The stock footage of the audience is from some award show, except for the closeup where Rocky and Milly are.
At the show, we finally see King Kong chained up, and Milly yells at the Captain for kidnapping (ape-napping) and animal cruelty. Milly’s big plan is to turn into Statler and Waldorf??? King Kong breaks free to the sound of the Gladiator soundtrack! The audience sits there until the stars are safely out of the way, then they finally run for their lives. What a polite audience!
Kong is busting out all over!
Milly and Rocky fist fight with the Captain, which is interspersed with shots of King Kong stomping through the city (green-screened into footage of town with no actual destruction shown), and shots of people stopping, looking, then running away. All still set to Gladiator music.
Kong stomps around town!
Finally, Banglar King Kong kicks it up a notch into awesome.
The next scene is a sound stage which has obviously flat plywood buildings with windows painted on them lining an empty street, and the Kong actor stomps through them. It’s like KONG! The musical. Kong stomps along until a remote control car (driven by a hot babe) drives up, Kong picks it up, looks at it, then tosses it aside, and stock footage of an exploding car is shown!
Kong then starts smashing plywood! I mean, actual buildings!
Kong destroys the community theater sets!
King Kong catches up to the fist fighting and stomps on the Captain, then he grabs Milly and walks away towards a building. Kong starts climbing the building and the cops shoot at him. Next up will see a lot of footage from the 1976 King Kong be used. You can even recognize the Empire State Building in the background skyline, and the surface of the Twin Towers. They double the shot of the three military helicopters arriving so there are now six helicopters menacing Banglar King Kong. He’s so tough, it takes twice the number to get him!
While Kong climbs the building, Rocky runs up the stairs. The building is so high I’m amazed Rocky didn’t have a heart attack and die at the top.
Kong pushes Milly out of the way so she doesn’t get hurt. The scenes they are using from ’76 Kong film blend seamlessly—if you’re on drugs and lost your glasses! We start out with the shot of Kong trashing one copter, then King Kong is gunned down very quickly by the other helicopters. This is mostly just direct shots from 76 Kong, but there is one shot original to Banglar King Kong of the costume getting blood-packed the frak up. I guess there ain’t going to be a sequel, not with that costume! Kong falls on the roof, then rolls off the building and drops to his doom!
Milly goes to the dying Kong on the road. There are flashbacks of island memories as she sings to the dying Kong. Who dies.
Despite the lack of subtitles, Banglar King Kong was pretty accessible. However, I don’t recommend it to the fan who has never seen any film from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, or other countries where the action is interrupted by musical numbers. I’ve seen well enough of these films by now that some of the songs are pretty darn enjoyable. I even have the soundtrack to a few of the Dara Singh films stored away somewhere! But Banglar King Kong is cheap, and is rife with stolen footage and bad effects. The stage set of the downtown area during the climax is so laughably bad I am not sure what they were even thinking. But beyond the flaws, Banglar King Kong teaches us that the message of modern stories transcending boarders and language, and how Beauty slays those the world over.
Rated 4/10 (G series, belt buckle, dog toy, helicopters from another film!)
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