Sihirbazlar Kralı Mandrake Kiling’in Peşinde (Review)

Sihirbazlar Kralı Mandrake Kiling’in Peşinde

aka Kilink vs Mandrake

Written by Vecdi Uygun
Directed by Oksal Pekmezoglu

Kilink vs Mandrake
The smoke breaks never stop when you’re Kilink. Until the cancer comes…

It’s time once again for TarsTarkas.NET and Die, Danger, Die, Die, Kill to hit you with a double dose of long-lost film action! This time, we travel all the way to the wild shores of Turkey to dig up a buried treasure featuring a guy in a skeleton suit and a magician battling it out for the heart (and money!) of a Princess from India. Yes, it is the lost classic, Sihirbazlar Kralı Mandrake Kiling’in Peşinde (aka Kilink vs. Mandrake!)

Kilink finds his origin with Killing, and Italian photo comic anti-hero who dressed in a skeleton costume and did evil things and evil women. The series was published in many countries, including France where it was known as Satanik. Killing became Kilink in Turkey, and Kiling in Argentina, which continued to make their own photo comics far after the originals stopped production.

Kilink vs Mandrake
The Tony Stark of the Magician world…

Killing was the type of character that became very popular in Turkey because he was a type of ultimate male, and it was natural that they would make their own home-grown version. And thanks to the way the Turkish alphabet is structured, Killing became Kilink. Kilink Istanbul’da was originally reviewed here based off of a vcd, since then DVD releases have given us the first three films (including one film partially recreated from surviving stills.) After the Original Trilogy of Kilink films, Turkish cinema went wild (well, wilder) and a who batch of Kilink films were made from various companies, most of which were not connected to each other in any way, and they couldn’t even keep their spellings straight!

Director Yılmaz Atadeniz brought us four films – Kilink Istanbul’da (1967 – reviewed off of vcd, film is missing a steambath scene), Kilink uçan adama karsi (1967 – largely lost and restored on DVD by Onar films largely through surviving stills), Kilink Soy ve Öldür (1967), and Kilink Caniler Krali (Kilink King of Criminals – 1967 – believed lost). Yavuz Figenli gave us Kilink Oluler Konusmaz (Kilink The Dead Don’t Talk – 1967 – believed lost) and Kiling Sarışın Tehlike (Killing Blond Danger – 1967 – believed lost and possibly just a retitle of Kilink The Dead Don’t Talk).

Oksal Pekmezoğlu’s sole entry was this film, Sihirbazlar Kralı Mandrake Kiling’in Peşinde (1967). Nuri Akıncı gave us the long-wanted to be seen Kilink Frankestayn ve Dr no’ya karsi (Kilink vs. Frankenstein – 1967 – believed lost). Natuk Baytan directed Saskin Hafiye Kilink’e karsi (Silly Detective vs Kilink – 1967 – believed lost). Çetin İnanç gave us Kilink Canilere Karşı (1967 – believed lost). Aram Gülyüz directed the only known female Kilink film – Dişi Kilink (1967 – believed lost)! That rounds out the 1960s.

The first 1970s Kilink was Birsen Kaya’s Kilink Olum Saciyor (Kilink Spreads Death – 1971 – believed lost). We then jump ahead a few years for Müjdat Saylav’s Killing Kolsuz Kahraman’a Karsi (Kilink vs. the One-Armed Warrior – 1975 – believed lost). And finally, the Kilink legacy continues with 2008’s tv movie Kilink-Kayıp Altınlar! I am pretty sure this is a comedy and has now entered my top ten list of movies to get.

Kilink vs Mandrake
Not racist!

As you just saw, so many were considered lost…until suddenly Sihirbazlar Kralı Mandrake Kiling’in Peşinde was found! Crazy how that works. Originally, a copy was given to Onar films for an eventual DVD release, but Bill Barounis fell ill, and as he was Onar films, the film was never released and sadly Bill passed on. But you can never keep a cult film down, and Sihirbazlar Kralı Mandrake Kiling’in Peşinde found its way into another person’s hands, who both subtitled the film and released a copy to the public via the usual method for lost rare films – carrier pigeon! And now it’s being force-fed to your brain thanks to this review!

One theory for the scant availability for Sihirbazlar Kralı Mandrake Kiling’in Peşinde is that it was made for only a smaller region of Turkey, the city of Adana and the surrounding area. That would also explain some of the Kilink and other pop cinema films that are hard to find beyond the usually used explanations about the Turkish military destroying prints and the destruction of prints to get the silver iodide.

Director Oksal Pekmezoğlu was trained as an illustrator, began making opening credit sequences in films, and then moved from that to directing. He continued to make films until his death in 2004, though his output had slowed considerably by the end of the 80s.

Lee Falk’s Mandrake premiered in newspapers in 1934, and predates his creation of The Phantom (which also got Turkey films such as Kizil Maske and Kizil Maske!) Mandrake is a magician who specializes in hypnotism, and has all sorts of adventures you would expect magicians to have. Aside from a Mandrake serial in 1939, there are no Mandrake films. Mandrake did have a pilot filmed for an unproduced tv series in 1954, and showed up in several cartoons, most notably Defenders of the Earth. This film is the only actual Mandrake movie, even if it isn’t authorized. Turkey is like that, putting out the only known or first film version of many properties, even if they didn’t bother to get anyone’s permission.

Kilink vs Mandrake
The Amazing Jonathan’s done a few drive-bys…

Mandrake (Güven Erte) – The magician man with the plan, and that plan is to tease Indian Princesses until they like him. Those plans usually work.
Lothar (Mustafa Dik) – Holy Blackface, Batman! Mandrake’s partner is Lothar (though called Abdullah in the subtitles!) He is an African Prince who follows Mandrake around on his adventures. I am guessing that the actor is Mustafa Dik based on the title billing.
Kilink (Sadettin Düzgün) – Kilink is once again up to no good, being evil and doing evil things, like owning a brothel and whipping people. Including himself, as he has whipping scars all down his back. All his goons have scars, from the K’s carved into them to whipping scars of their own, giving a weird S&M feel. I bet his nickname is Special K!
Princess Neslihan (Mine Mutlu) – A Princess from India who spends her time hanging out in hotels in Turkey. And Mandrake puts the moves on her! But Kilink is eager to steal her crown and her money and her body!
Mustapha (???) – Blonde Kilink goon with a big K scar on his face. He kinda looks like an albino Joaquim Phoenix! I am not sure who played him.
Salma (Tansu Sayın) – Kilink’s blonde girl who wants to be his lady. Doesn’t she know there is no future in that? Tansu Sayın is in some other Turkish Pop Cinema classics like Demir Pençe Casuslar Savaşı, Zorro Dişi Fantoma’ya Karşı, and Zorro’nun Kara Kamçısı.
Kilink vs Mandrake
I got my jam-jams on!

Kilink vs Mandrake
Dick Tracy goes Gestapo!

We open with a woman running and being chased by thugs. Like so many films, the woman falls, and thus seals her doom. She’s blown away by a dude with a hat, cigarette, and trench coat. Is this a Turkish Death Wish film? No, as we find out much later, this guy is Kilink, and he runs a brothel. The lady was an escapee from the brothel, and the people chasing her were Kilink’s goon squad. Kilink rents out his captive girls to high rollers, including one creepy old guy who seems to be so horrible women flee and risk being murdered on the street rather than sleep with him. Kilink’s men and women all have letter K’s carved into their bodies. While the men have the K’s predominantly displayed on their faces (and backs!), the women have the K’s in more intimate areas, such as their bosoms.

But before all that, Mandrake and his totally no-racist partner Lothar (Lothar in the comics, Abdullah in the subtitles) escape their manager for a bit of fun in the sun of Eastern Turkey! They also take a lady named Bircan (Hilal Esen) who does little in the film. They arrive on the same flight as the famous Indian Princess Neslihan, because I guess India still had princesses. The press of the Anatolian city of Izmir swarms around the Princess.

Kilink vs Mandrake
This Harry Potter costume contest gets worse every year…

Mustapha and Salma watched her arrive and report in to their boss. Kilink himself is in the middle of a love-making sessions with one of his women, who is played by Meltem Mete of Baytekin Fezada Carpisanlar fame. She’s put off because he’s just not that into her, and is teased by another of Kilink’s women, the lady who seems to be in charge of the brothel and her expression looks like she’s perpetually smelling dog doo-doo.

Mandrake and Lothar are at the hotel bar where Princess is hanging out, and he does some parlor tricks. Indian princess is intrigued, but Mandrake drops some negs on her at the bar and she storms off. Way to be a PUA loser, Mandrake!

Kilink vs Mandrake
No one tell him he’s just a white guy in makeup!
Kilink vs Mandrake
If only I could find a man who wasn’t a magician or dressed as a skeleton…

We’re down a girl at the brothel, so Salma and Mustapha are also on the lookout to find someone new to break into the world’s oldest profession. They find a rather attractive, apprehensive brunette and somehow convince her to go back to their place. As she doesn’t have Liam Neeson as a father, she’s screwed! They slab her around and feel her up, then Mustapha forces himself on her.

And the Princess is already in love with Mandrake and discussing it with her handmaiden, who tells her that magicians are dangerous. It’s a well known fact. Penn & Teller have killed people with spoons. SPOONS! Mandrake uses his magic to make the Princess believe that her handmaiden is him for a few seconds. That’s some totally not creepy stuff, Mandrake.

Kilink vs Mandrake
Mom says I got to eat, I’m so skinny she can see my bones! Ha!
Kilink vs Mandrake
The note has better English than the hardsubs…

Princess goes to spy on him, and she looks right into his room and sees him reading, so obviously he notices her and she runs away. Mandrake decides a good practical joke would be to steal the crown of the Princess overnight, so he does.

Fortune causes Kilink and Mandrake to now cross paths, as Kilink is sneaking around the Princess’s room looking to steal her crown, and all he finds is the note Mandrake left. So he just goes into Mandrake’s room and takes the crown himself. Why doesn’t Mandrake have the bare minimum of protection? Kilink heads home and brags to Salma.

Kilink vs Mandrake
How DARE he secretly dye his hair!
Kilink vs Mandrake
Seriously, guys, Not racist!

The next morning the Princess is banging on Mandrake’s door, and Mandrake is still hitting on her, saying he took her crown because she’s so beautiful when she’s angry (Mandrake just pumped Wisconsin dry of milk with all this cheese he’s using…) But the crown is gone and replaced with a note from Kilink! Or Killing, as he’s calling himself…

Mandrake vows to find the crown, if it’s the last thing he does!

The brunette from earlier makes a break for it from Kilink’s brother and is running through the streets, but Kilink runs her down in the street. He goes back to the brothel, where they’re whipping the crap out of one lady and also whipping some other girls just because. I’m no expert on exploitative whipping, but it seems they aren’t doing the whipping in the right exploitative manner. Everyone is whipping and whipping, you’d almost think it was sensual, except they don’t present it as sensual at all, it comes off more as just bland background whipping. I think this is more of a failure of directing than anything else, the whipping should be exciting and have many layers of sexuality built into it, but we got nothing.

Kilink vs Mandrake
Looks like they ran out of black makeup by the time they hit the thighs…
Kilink vs Mandrake
Cool Dog, the Turkish remake

One of Kilink’s men is named Cabbar. No reason to mention this except Cabbar sounds like it should be funny, but really isn’t.

Mandrake finds the bloody girl in the street, who is still alive enough to give the address of the brothel. Good thing she knew that important fact! Also bad thing there seems to be no police or any other people in Turkey for her to be lying in the street bloody for so long. Bircan takes her to the hospital, but she dies.

Mandrake and Lothar arrive at Kilink’s House of Ill Repute and just start punching everyone. Killing is fighting with an axe and no shirt or mask, it took me a minute to realize that’s who he was! Unlike many of the other Turkish films that rip off the part of old serials where characters fight for 10 minutes straight wholesale, the fighting here isn’t really that intense of serial-esque. There is some fighting, and our heroes are rarely in danger, but it doesn’t go on forever. In fact, it is almost over a bit quickly, but then a guy hits them in the back of their heads with a giant log and they’re both knocked out.

Kilink vs Mandrake
Kilink…or Turkish They Live?

Mandrake and Lothar awaken chained up and there is more whipping. And flogging. And then some more whipping. Speaking of whipping, who wants to buy some Cool Whip?

Mandrake then uses his magic powers to switch his and Lothar’s places with guards (or maybe the guards were the ones whipped and everyone thought it was Mandrake and Lothar – the film never bothers to explain at all!) and Mandrake then takes the crown out of Killing’s safe as he sleeps. Mandrake has one final trick up his sleeve…he turns Killing into a dog! A German shepard! That can talk! Holy Disney Film!

Mandrake and the Princess are now in love and spend time together singing to music ganked from an Indian film I should know but don’t, and Lothar and the handmaiden pretend to sing and dance and Mandrake and Princess frolic on the beach. Well, I can truthfully say I never expected to see a Bollywood dance number in a Killink film. Mandrake and Princess Neslihan continue with their date after the dancing.

Kilink vs Mandrake
You have failed the Pepsi challenge

But now it’s time for her to go home, back to being Princess of India. But instead of being taken to the consulate, the driver is kidnapping her! Because he’s Kilink! In full costume and mask! Underneath a hat and sunglasses! Somehow she didn’t notice her driver was wearing a costume! She must be legally blind!

Mandrake and Lothar steal some motorcycles (and for one shot they ride them with one foot on the seat and the other in the air behind them….so odd…)

Kilink vs Mandrake
Mom walked in just as Jimmy had stripped down to his bones. So much for getting laid after prom!

Mustafa has a radio that flips into a gun. I believe I’ve seen this radio gun in some other film, but can’t remember which one. Salma overhears Kilink tell the Princess he wants to run away with her and all the money, ditching the rest of his crew. She’s going to kill him for his jerkness, but she’s shot instead by the jealous Kilink woman from earlier in the film. No more Kilink woman drama can happen, as Mandrake and Lothar are punching their way into the hideout! Mandrake does some jumping and gun-telekinesis moves that are accomplished by running the film backwards. By the time the cops arrive, Mandrake and Lothar have punched out pretty much everyone.

And now the Princess can leave…eventually (Mandrake does a trick to make her car go backwards for a bit!)

Kilink vs Mandrake
Not-so-Evil Knievel

That’s the end of this lost film. While nowhere near as large in scope, no as inspired by old serials as the Yilmaz Atadeniz’s Kilink films, Kilink vs. Mandrake has it’s own set of charms. A type of low-budget wonder. The fact it was probably just made for a region of Turkey made the already small budget miniscule in order to get a good return. I highly doubt the producers thought this films would be around for people to watch in ten years, much less 45! But I’m glad it survived, and I’m glad I watched it, even if I’ll probably never watch it again. Because this belt ain’t going to notch itself! Kilink vs. Mandrake is about on the level of fan films, and is the type of mashup you would see in a lot of fanfic. At least they didn’t get each other pregnant and deliver demon My Little Pony babies. Though someone is writing that fic right now…

While you’re waiting for the writer to finish, be sure to check out FourDK’s review of Sihirbazlar Kralı Mandrake Kiling’in Peşinde!

Kilink vs Mandrake
We’re so brazen, we have Lothar in our film studio logo!

Rated 6/10 (Hurrr…, K boobs, photo-head, crown box, I feel like some smokes…, I feel like some drink as well…)

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Tars Tarkas

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