Valley of the Wolves: Iraq (Review)

Valley of the Wolves: Iraq

aka Kurtlar vadisi – Irak

Necati Sasmaz as Polat Alemdar
Billy Zane as Sam William Marshall
Ghassan Massoud as Sheikh Abdurrahman Halis Karuki
Gürkan Uygun as Memati Bas
Bergüzar Korel as Leyla
Kenan Çoban as Abdülhey Çoban
Erhan Ufak as Erhan Ufak
Diego Serrano as Dante, Sam’s assistant (aka Fauxhawk)
Gary Busey as Doctor
Directed by Serdar Akar

Now THIS is a controversial film!! It’s very existence lead to a flurry of fury on the blogosphere, which quickly sped to the TV pundits looking for things to scream about. The movie became super-hyped for three reasons: The US is portrayed as villains, a Jewish doctor steals organs, and actual American actors are involved. This quickly gained the film notoriety in the US, however it was already generating a huge buzz in Turkey. Besides being the most expensive Turkish movie ever made (though that’s kind of like being the tallest midget), it was a follow-up to one of the most popular TV programs in Turkey, Valley of the Wolves (Kurtlar vadisi), a Turkish drama about undercover cops in the mafia (which had notable American Guest Stars Sharon Stone and Andy Garcia.) It was confusing in the US press at the time what the connection actually was, but it turns out several of the main characters then make their way to Iraq to deal with insolent Americans. Make no mistake, the “Americans” in this film are a big pack of bad. Think of it as Muslim’s revenge for film after film with Muslim villains, such as True Lies and Midnight Express (which had a whole prison of Turkish horrors.)

American actors Billy Zane and Gary Busey are in this film. Zane stars as the villain Sam William Marshall, who dresses like he was on the way to be a villain in an Indiana Jones film who thinks he’s a Bond villain. As the main evil character, he helps organize the Americans’ in their shenanigans in Iraq, from putting Turkish troops in hoods to pumping hot lead into wedding parties. Gary Busey plays the most over the top character (well, of those too, there’s another American who’s even crazier!), a Jewish doctor who spends the movie removing organs from healthy innocent Iraqis picked up in raiding parties, for quick delivery to New York, Israel, and other places where Jewish people are. Busey’s concern for his victims exists only because he wants them alive when he chops them open. Several scenes happen where he’s yelling at people about the mistreatment of the captives, but it turns out only so he can have better victims. One may wonder why these two Americans are playing such ridiculous roles. Well, Billy Zane is hot of BloodRayne, while Busey actually moved up from work such as Gingerdead Man. Regardless, these controversial roles could backfire on them, but neither actor is such a box office draw that their name will decline sales. Most of their films are either direct to video, or should be. Turkish actor Necati Sasmaz is Polat Alemdar, the hero of Valley of the Wolves TV show. Originally, he was planning to move to the US< but his flight on September 11th ended up being canceled for obvious reasons, so he stayed in Turkey and then became a huge star. Ghassan Massoud plays the Sheikh Abdurrahman Halis Karuki, and is probably best know for playing Saladin in Kingdom of Heaven.

The film itself presents several ideas, and is more complicated than simply a hit piece against America. In fact, the film seems to take a decidedly anti-violence tone. Several scenes attack radical Muslims just as other attack American occupiers. In the recap, we shall address such themes when they pop up, as well as trying to give an overall picture of what is going on. The film is very long, around two hours, and is full of incidents both based on reality and far from the realm of fiction. Well, we won’t get anywhere rattling on about the film, let’s experience it…

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