Plot: Ancient apeman attacks assorted Asian areas.
I first saw Mighty Peking Man three or four years ago under almost storybook conditions. The Music Box, Chicago’s premiere art house theater, featured the film with a midnight showing. Knowing almost nothing about it, other than it was a Chinese giant gorilla flick and therefore probably pretty nutty, I grabbed my friend Andrew Muchoney (him I didn’t even tell the title) and drove down to the city.
Once there, in order to live life to the fullest, we grabbed front row seats. (The Music Box has a little stage, so this wasn’t one of those neck-craning situations.) Things began well with the playing of the Green Slime theatrical trailer. Then the feature presentation started. I had expected nutty, but the film proved nothing short of insane. Huge rapid-fire bursts of stuff were constantly happening. Moreover, the theater had cranked up the speakers for a film sporting one of the loudest soundtracks I’ve ever heard. By the end of the show, I was exhausted. I literally felt pummeled and practically stumbled back to my car.
That’s why Mighty Peking Man has earned second place in my giant ape movie sweepstakes. By rational standards, it’s as bad as any of the gorilla movies yet to be reviewed. (Well, OK, maybe not the last one.) But rational rules by defination can’t really be applied to a film this berserk. So the real question was whether Mighty Peking Man should get the first place position over Konga. It was close, but I wasn’t quite willing to cut it that much slack. Still, our subject today isâ€¦amazing. (By the way, I just this moment flipped around the TV channels. A Kismet moment occurred when I found our local ABC affiliate showing the colorized version of the original King Kong. Bleech!)
We open in Hong Kong. Four Chinese men are examining archived newspapers in a library. A decade old copy of the Hongkong Standard â€“ and if you can’t trust them, who can you trust? â€“ reported “GIANT FOOTPRINT DISCOVERED IN HIMALAYAS!” This item is what the men were searching for. One guy explains that numerous eyewitness reported seeing the maker of said print. “That monster, gentleman,” he avers, “was really the prehistoric Peking Man.”
Here we cut to a tabletop diorama of a primitive native village situated near a cliff face. This is supposedly situated in the Mysore area of India. Which is the same place Jungle Hell was set. I’m not sure whom the people of Mysore pissed off, but they evidently did a good job of it.
It’s obvious that the filmmakers feared that their audience might be starting to get restless by this point. And with good reason, since a full minute of screentime has passed without anything incredibly interesting happening. To speed things up, a Narrator jumps in. “In a remote village,” he explains, “life was calm. The people lived there peacefully. And then one day, without warning, there was an earthquake. The earth was ripped open.” (In case you’re wondering, the latter was related to the former.)
1:12 — Earthquake begins to rock village.
As often occurs during earthquakes, the sky fills with clouds and thunder and lightning blasts. Some villagers run inside their huts. Others stand in front of a rear screen projection of earthquake-y type stuff. Sure enough, huge rents appear in the ground. Debris starts tumbling down the cliff face. Huts collapse. The cause of all this havoc soon makes itself know.
2:04 â€“ Peking Man makes his appearance.
Mighty Peking Man â€“ ‘MPM’ from now on â€“ smashes his way out of the mountain in which he has spent eons trapped in a state of suspended animation. Or something. Shaking off shaved Styrofoam ‘snow’ and bellowing hugely, the antediluvian ape pauses to beats his chest. (What else?) Meanwhile, we ponder how millennia spent encased in the rock have taken their toll. The poor fellow’s face looks like it was made of sagging rubber. No wonder he’s mad!
2:14 â€“ Further mass cataclysm in the village.
We see more villagers running to and fro. More huts fall over. Etc. More monstrous fissures appear in the earth. Is this all being caused the earthquake, which woke MPM from his slumber? Do MPM rouse from his slumber, causing the earthquake? Got me. Anyway, the area is laid waste. Really, it looks like the end of an old dinosaur movie after the inevitable climatic volcano eruption.
An extreme close-up of MPM, which isn’t doing the guy who made the costume any favors, confirms his wrathful aspect during all of this. This is followed by an exaggeratedly poor rear screen effect that gets MPM’s size all out of proportion. He’s shown standing over a hut â€“ the number of which seemingly changes from shot to shot — beating his chest. (What else?) Then he’s back in the mountains. It’s hard to tell what’s happening here, as our titular menace seems to teleport to a different location in each shot.
3:19 — MPM enters village; further carnage ensues.
Entering the diorama, er, village, MPM kicks over some more huts, and a boulder, and does some other stuff. Then villagers, despite seeming to be in an entirely different movie, decide to throw spears at him. We cut to MPM and he’s back in the woods, whereas one second ago he was standing in the town square. Like I said, this flick can be a little confusing. Aside from the fusillade of spears â€“ was it really that difficult to acquire rifles in the 1960s? â€“ the villagers start heaving large stones at him with their bank of catapults. (??) MPM responds by tossing an even bigger rock back. As he does we notice it’s size and composition changing pretty obviously as it passes into the other movie. The one the villagers are in.
3:45 â€“ Surprisingly unconcerned villager (watch in slo-mo) fatally struck by largish Styrofoam boulder.
The remaining villagers hide in a bluescreen effect of an ancient temple. Meanwhile, Mighty Ape Suit Man performs additional acts of none-too-realistic mayhem. Then he smashes away at the miniature temple, which now is oddly bereft of all the people who were supposedly just standing in it. After a bit of this MPM turns to leave.
4:04 â€“ Two stage-blood spitting villagers flattened by large hunk of shattered Styrofoam idol.
The above can’t possibly communicate the delirious quality of the described sequence, which in its entirety lasts under two and a half minutes. The mÃ©lange of shots seem positively designed to disorient the viewer. The way the village keeps changing appearance. The way MPM seems to change his location every time we see him. The really unconvincing effects, from the horrible blue screening (this was made after Star Wars?!) to the woeful intercutting of the ‘real’ village and the model one. Even MPM’s face keeps radically changing appearance. At least two blatantly different masks and/or props are used during this — one for regular shots and one for close-up inserts — and that count may be conservative.
So MPM turns to leave and, two minutes and twenty-three seconds after cutting to the village, we return to the previously mentioned newspaper headline. “The evidence looks conclusive,” one of the men notes, as if they too had been privy to the flashback. Actually, you’d think if the evidence was ‘conclusive’ that someone else would have already investigated the incident. Yet despite the newspaper coverage â€“ and the story was top lining the front page â€“ no one seems to have done so.
One of the guys is evidently the film’s Evil Capitalist. We can tell, because he says things like “If we were able to capture this creature, we would be rich!” Another notes that even getting the creature dead would secure a profit, since they could have the body stuffed. (How’d you like to be the taxidermist who got the commission to preserve a body “ten stories tall”?) They decide to contact a local hunter/explorer they know to lead the expedition. “He just lost his girl and he wants to get away,” it’s explained.
Cut to a close-up of a hand, its forearm is clad in an epically bad ’70s patterned shirt, drunkenly knocking over a brandy snifter. I suspect this will prove to belong to our explorer. The camera pulls back to show the fellow’s head falling unconscious to the bar. Meanwhile we note the hideously bad jazz music, then the man’s horrifying plaid sports jacket and gigantic shirt collar. The latter looks like something Sister Bertrille would wear in case she needed to fly but had misplaced her hat. Said shirt is naturally unbuttoned to his navel and he sports a medallion on a long silver chain.
This is Johnny, a common name in Hongkong, one assumes. He’s wakened by one of the library men â€“ Johnny’s raised head allows us to fully discern his bad long ’70s hair â€“ who explains that he’s being hired to lead a team into the Indian jungle. Like a man joining the Foreign Legion to forget a love gone wrong, Johnny agrees before hearing any details. Cue opening credits, as accompanied by sitar music. Which, to be fair, does help substantiate MPM’s later claims that he at one point acted as a guru to George Harrison.
After various stock shots of urban India â€“ again, see Jungle Hell â€“ we cut to the expedition team arriving on the scene. The array of awful ’70s polyester togs and denim jackets they display, by the way, will somewhat diminish how frightening we later find MPM. If he were wearing a giant version of one of the leisure suits shown here, then we’d really be scared. Or at least nauseated.
The team heads into the interior in some ox-drawn wagons. (Two words, dudes: Land Rovers.) They swig cans of beer as they go. Now that’s an expedition a guy can get behind. We can tell they’re deep in the jungle because we’re shown some monkeys cavorting in a tree. Inevitably, a team members points to this, so that we ‘get’ the monkeys are in the same film as them. Then we see a sloth bear. Hmm, maybe he edited the film.
Still concerned that viewers will be bored by this relatively static portion of the film, they juice things up with some blaring ‘suspense!‘ music. This achieves a crescendo when one of their oxcarts gets *gasp* stuck in a six-inch deep river. Three of the actors pretend to strain at pushing it free â€“ cut to extraneous elephant stock footage â€“ as if the tenuously mired state of the vehicle somehow imperils the entire expedition. They finally succeed in freeing the recalcitrant wagon â€“ whew!! â€“ but at the cost of soaking their pants halfway up to their knees. They’ll have some tales to tell the grandkids, that’s for sure.
Cut to Johnny and Another Guy riding in their cart under a gray, overcast sky. “Can you believe this sun?” the other fellow rather counterintuitively complains. Meanwhile, a couple of night falls are cut in to indicate the passage of time. (If only the clock counter on my DVD player would do the same!) Eventually the team arrives at a deserted native village. Oddly, in some shots the sky is overcast, in some sunny. It’s not exactly a “Day! Night! Day!” situation, but it’s pretty close.
The men call to see if anyone’s around. In response we hear a mighty roar, see some chickens flung up in the air and watch the expedition’s bearers panic. As bearers are prone to do. Then we see the village falling prey, as you’d expect, to an elephant stampede. “The elephants are stampeding!” the men yell, lest we fail to grasp the situation. So agitated are the predacious pachyderms that their charge is portrayed with undercranked footage. This results in an effect similar to that seen when a group of half-clad ladies is chasing Benny Hill around. Despite the fact that the elephants are clearly in another movie entirely, the men try to stop their rush by firing at the beasts with their .38 revolvers. Yes, that should do it.
The elephants knock over the huts, albeit for little apparent reason, and we are allowed to savor another welter of awful projection effects. These include the inevitable shot of a bearer being crushed by a collapsing hut. Which itself happens to recall a shot during MPM’s earlier rampage, when a villager was crushed by a collapsing hut. It should be noted that the first native crushed by a collapsing hut was a villager, while the second was a bearer. So it’s really completely different.
For even further variety we next watch as another bearer is crushed by an (obviously bogus) elephant foot. When this is lifted the fellow’s chest is mysteriously covered with stage blood, despite his lack of evident injury. Perhaps the beast just squeezed the fluids out of him.
After exactly one minute the elephant stampede is over. With nary a second to even see how many of their number are dead â€“ why bother, the only fatalities were among the bearers â€“ the team presses on.
Cut to their campfire that night. The bwanas, by which I mean the Chinese guys as opposed to the ‘native’ bearers (who frankly don’t seem to be of Indian descent), muse on the distraught Johnny, who’s sitting off on his own. Two of them walk over. “We’ve been though a lot together,” One Guy reminds him. “We really owe our lives to each other.”
And thus out of the blue we learn that the three are extremely close friends. Admittedly, One Guy earlier said he ‘knew’ Johnny, but that’s hardly the same thing. Oh, and I’m calling the fellow ‘One Guy’ because, despite the expedition members having been featured in numerous scenes already, and the fact that we’re now about twelve minutes into the movie, no character other than Johnny has yet been named.
Prodded, Johnny relates the tale of his lost love. “Lin Chang is her name,” he begins. “We were going to get married.” Things went south when Johnny’s brother Charlie made the scene. Charlie, you see, is a TV director, and Lin Chang wanted more than anything to be a TV star. “Nobody, nothing,” Johnny reminisces, “could stand in her way.” If you guess this leads into a flashback, give yourself a cookie.
Apparently the law mandating that romantic montages begin with the happy lovers running along a beach is an international stricture, not just a U.S. one. (However, the subsidiary provisions requiring we see the lovers eating ice creams cones and/or the man knocking over bottles at a carnival booth and winning the woman a giant teddy bear are apparently national in scope.) The Chinese laxness on intellectual property issues, meanwhile, was displayed when Johnny wackily mock-threatens a laughing Lin Change with a lobster. Perhaps Mr. Allen’s courting of Soon-Yi was a tacit reprisal for this.
Eventually the montage comes to a close. We then see Johnny running up some steps with a bouquet of roses. “One day I came home early,” he narrates. (Has a happy story ever followed this sentence?) Pausing outside Lin Chang’s bedroom, he hears giggling and muffled voices. Flinging the door open, he finds her in bed with this brother. “Johnny!” the shocked Charlie stutters. “We began as a joke, really!” Impressively, that might be the single lamest excuse proffered to a cuckolded lover in the annals of history. Johnny fled, becoming the sodden wreck we met earlier.
Flashback concluded, we move to the following morning. The expedition marches through some woods. With a tremendously loud trumpet blare we zooms to a tame tiger in the rear of the shot. We cut to a close-up of another tiger, although it’s meant to be the same one, roaring. “A tiger! Scatter!” someone shouts. (You’re all armed, ya mopes, why the hell would you scatter?!) Following this advice, one of the bwanas and two of bearers seek safety by leaping into an obvious pit of quicksand. (!!) They sink to their dooms in about four seconds.
One of the bearers begins wrestling the tame tiger, accompanied by more extremely loud music. He seems to be getting the upper hand (because the tiger is both tame and probably drugged), when suddenly we cut to a close-up of a stuffed tiger’s head being thrust at a fake human leg. Then the bottom half of the false leg mysteriously disappears, leaving a false bloody stump. It’s almost as if they stopped the film, switched phony limbs, and started filming again.
Meanwhile, Johnny’s not exactly bucking for admittance in the Hero’s Hall of Fame. First one of his two friends leapt into the quicksand. Johnny managed to grab his hand while he was only waist deep in. Two seconds later and the guy has nonetheless sunk to a watery grave. Moments after that Johnny dives in to help the bearer battle the tiger. Result: The native immediately gets his leg chomped off. The moral seems to be that if you’re in distress and Johnny offer his assistance, well, you better have your arrairs in order.
Johnny yells for the medical kit as the rest of the bearers run from him. Apparently they’ve learned what to do when Johnny’s in one of his ‘helpful’ moods. That still leaves the poor wounded guy. Sans leg, he has no hope of escaping Our Hero’s humanitarian urges. So one of the bwanas â€“ could we get a couple frickin’ names here, people? â€“ manfully steps forward and shoots the fellow. Johnny punches the shooter, but the miscreant shrugs it off. Better to be pummeled by Johnny than assisted by him, after all.
To more blaring action music we see the ever-shrinking expedition begin to ascend a cliff. At this point, can that even possibly be a good idea? As it turns out, no. (If you sent three of these guys out to roll up your car windows, at least one of them wouldn’t come back.) A grappling hook â€“ good mountain climbing gear! â€“ pulls loose. Johnny’s remaining friend and even more bearers turn into bad dummies and plummet to their demise. Oddly, when they were shown climbing, the top guy was maybe twenty-five feet up as the line came free. However, the long shot of the manikins shows them plunging from a height of a hundred feet or more.
At this point the team consists of Johnny, Lead Unnamed Bwana Guy and seven or eight still extant bearers. (Given how many have already perished, they must have started with dozens of them.) “We can’t go on,” Last Bwana Guy insists. “It’s too dangerous.” Actually, it’s hard to disagree with him. However, he follows this by asserting “There is no Peking Man! He’s imaginary. He doesn’t exist.” I’m not sure how he came to that conclusion, but anyway.
Johnny insists that they continue. Then, since nothing ‘exciting’ has happened since the guys fell to their deaths a good thirty seconds ago, things start moving again. And so the men hear a rustling sound coming from the interior. Turning, they see a distant figure leaping about in the trees. Before they can investigate, however, the person is gone.
Next Johnny is seen standing by a giant footprint. “How can a footprint be so big?” he asks. (My theory involves a really large foot, but let’s move on.) “It can only be Peking Man,” Remaining Bwana replies. Thanks, Sherlock. Johnny takes pictures of the massive prints but doesn’t bother having anybody stand by them to provide scale. Good work, doofus.
“This is a fresh print,” he muses. (Go ahead and insert your own Will Smith gag here. I’m too tired.) “We’ll try to follow them,” he continues. Wow. Brilliant plan. What’s with the ‘try,’ though? If you question your ability to track a series of six-foot long footprints, maybe the expedition should have hired another guide. One, perhaps, who wouldn’t have killed half the members while trying to aide them.
Cut to a stock footage shot. Er, the moon. Then on to the next campsite, erected deep in the heart of the soundstage. Er, jungle. Remaining Bwana, seeing that Johnny’s asleep and thus unable to offer him a hand, stealthily leaves their tent. The next morning Johnny rises and finds his companion has scampered. “Lu Tien?!” he calls. Great, every other Chinese character has departed the movie and we finally learn one of their names. As for Johnny, you’d think he’d look around a bit more. How far could Lu Tien have gotten on a soundstage? Instead, he returns to the tent to gather his gear.
Johnny is walking alone through a field and carrying his own pack. They don’t explain this, but I’m assuming the remaining porters died a horrible, bloody death while attempting to open a can of beans. Suddenly, a big-fake-gorilla-hand-on-a-boom awkwardly grabs hold of him â€“ this takes a couple of different shots from varied angles to execute â€“ and hauls him into the air. Johnny’s then dropped, only somehow instead of dying (probably because he can’t offer to help himself) he hits the ground and rolls to safety. Rising before a really bad bluescreen shot of MPM, he takes off running. I’m not sure how the field instantly turned into a dense forest, but maybe MPM teleported whilst lifting Johnny into the air.
MPM tosses a tree at Johnny, which turns into a branch before hitting the ground. Then, in a burst of artistic genius on the director’s part, MPM is shown reaching for a bluescreen of Johnny. Turn about is fair play, eh, and all’s fair in love and rear screen projection effects. Anyway, the two pretend they’re in the same movie for a while, with Johnny continuing to elude capture. MPM is so annoyed by this that he changes the appearance of his face again.
Eventually Johnny trips and knocks himself out. MPM picks up a large rock and moves in for the kill, probably fearing that Our Hero will try to attempt to pull a thorn out of his paw and kill him. Johnny is saved, however, by the appearance of the mysterious jungle figure seems earlier. We now see that this person is â€“ are you sitting down? â€“ a blond Jungle Queen attired in animal leathers who enters the scene swinging on a vine and doing a Tarzan yell. She shouts a Jungle Word to Rear Projection Peking Man, who trundles off. Then she stoops to minister to the unconscious Johnny. From her expression as she gazes at his, we can tell it’s Love.
Following Jungle Girl’s wishes, MPM lowers his giant-hand-on-a-boom and awkwardly lifts Johnny into the air. Then he lowers his other giant-hand-on-a-boom and does the same for Jungle Girl. Cut to a tabletop diorama cliff-with-water fall. Opposite this, we see MPM gently placing Johnny into JG’s fashionable cave apartment. Johnny finally rouses, surprised to find himself in these strange and somewhat garishly decorated surroundings.
JG enters, startled to find Our Hero up and about. Then follows the inevitable scene were Johnny tries to converse with her despite her evident lack of English. (Now that she’s standing still, we can see that JG’s leather corset is strapless on one side. This leaves her mostly exposed left breast bouncing around in its shallow cup like a plate of gelatin in a Jurassic Park movie.)
JG finally responds when he says the words “mama” and “papa.” Excitedly leading him outside, they vine down to the jungle floor. She runs off in a rather Sheena-like fashion and he trails behind her. They trot all the way to a soundstage holding the charred wreckage of a small airplane. Johnny is stunned to realize â€“ the skeletons JG points to and identify as ‘Papa’ and ‘Mama’ help — that her parents have been dead for many years. (Apparently he hasn’t seen many Jungle movies, in which girls like this one are a dime a dozen.)
JG sets to weeping. Luckily, Johnny doesn’t offer to comfort her in any way, but instead begins searching the wreckage. A leather satchel, one that’s miraculously remained intact all these years, yields a photo portrait portraying the happy family. (Young JG, unsurprisingly, looks almost exactly like both Young Ayla and Young Sheena. It’s a familiar tale.) This triggers a flashback. Young JG obviously watched a lot of cheesy movies in her time, since the plane in her flashback is represented by an obvious model on a string. Anyhoo, there was a storm, which caused the plane to crash. Her parents were killed, and Young JG was left to fend for herself in the jungle.
By the way, thanks for making the effort with the flashback and all. Frankly, though, I’d pretty much figured out everything we’re shown here. Well, OK, I didn’t guess that one of the plane’s engine mysteriously blew up. Or that rather than dying in the crash, her parents were horribly roasted to death in the ensuing fire after tossing their daughter to safety. Yeah, that’s a nice touch. Thanks. In any case, MPM lumbers onto the scene — probably thinking “MMMâ€¦something smells good!” — and uses his big boom-hand to take Young JG to safety. We can tell that he’s already smitten with the little tyke. “Ay. It was Peking Man,” Johnny brilliantly deduces. Meanwhile, a glance in Dad’s similarly surviving journal reveals that JG’s name is Samantha. (I have to admit, this tale does make Samantha’s slow recovery of English logical.)
On the way back to the cave, Johnny is roared at by a tiger. (Pretty obviously the same one from before.) He assumes a defensive posture, but Sam goes right up and cuddles the beast. Then it leaves. Suddenly, Johnny hears a roar. He turns and sees a leopard. He draws his knife and assumes a defensive posture, but Sam goes right up and cuddles the beast. Then it leaves. This establishes that Sam is the master of tigers and leopards, but leaves us in the dark regarding her way with lions, pumas, jaguars, ocelots, panthers, cheetahs and bobcats.
The two run around some more, accompanied by what sounds like an instrumental version of “You Are Everything” by the Stylistics. Then Sam notices some fruit way up in a tree, and gets it by basically humping her way up the trunk. Really, that’s the only way I can describe it. I wouldn’t be surprised if the actress playing Sam got the role purely due to her ability to perform this feat.
Johnny doesn’t like his fruit. Sam laughs. Good times. Then (with, yes, a blare of music) the camera zooms in on a big rubber cobra not three feet from where Sam is sitting. How this girl survived in the jungle all these years is beyond me. For no apparent reason â€“- other than it’s being pulled on a string â€“ the snake strikes, biting Sam rather high up on her inner thigh. Since they had stock footage of a leopard attacking a snake this is cut in, as Sam’s feline friend rather belatedly lends a paw.
The damage is done, though. The only thing for it, of course, is for Johnny to start sucking away at Sam’s wound. After he spits out what seems like half a cup of blood â€“ thanks for that â€“ Sam passes. An elephant comes over and lowers itself to accept the two as passengers. Sure there are poisonous snakes everywhere, but hey, at least you can get a taxi when you want one.
Back to the cave. Sam is in a moaning delirium, and the bite area is swollen and discolored. (More the latter than former, though, since that’s easier to do with make-up.) Johnny paces around in a worried fashion. I was more sanguine, however. I didn’t figure they’d kill off Sam half an hour into the picture.
Johnny is startled by an avalanche of leaves falling at the cave’s entrance. Running out, he sees that the foliage is being dropped by MPM. In the tradition of Steven Seagal’s The Patriot, these prove to be a quite effective home remedy for snakebite. I’m not exactly sure how a prehistoric fifty-foot hominoid would have gleaned this knowledge, but hey, let’s be glad he did. Using a coconut shell as a pestle â€“ somebody’s been watching Gilligan’s Island â€“ Johnny mulches some leaves into a paste. This is quickly applied to the wound.
Cut to a lavish swimming pool back in civilization. The dastardly Lu Tien is frolicking with assorted party girls. These crowd around him and constantly giggle, as party girls are wont to do. Some reporters show up and Lu Tien spins them some self-aggrandizing yarns about the failed expedition. “We searched every inch of that jungle,” he fibs. (Considering how many men per square foot the expedition lost, this would have required half the population of China.) As for Johnny, Lu Tien is sure that he’ll fail to survive. “He’s a good kid,” Lu Tien offers, “only he doesn’t know the jungle.” Yeah, then you were pretty smart to hire him to guide your expedition.
Anyway, the point of all this is that Lu Tien is supposed to be this slimy, cowardly character. I’m not sure why we’re to view him this way, though. Admittedly, he’s not about to earn any medals for bravery. Still, abandoning an expedition whose members escape tiger attacks by leaping into pools of quicksand seems more prudent than pusillanimous.
Back to the cave, where Sam appears to be fully recovered. A shirtless Johnny â€“ this one’s for you, ladies â€“ strides in with more leaves, and grins happily to see Sam back on her feet. She’s still hobbling a bit, though, and begins to topple over. This allows Johnny to leap forward and catch her in his purportedly manly embrace. ‘Romantic’ music, of a ’70s lounge band sort, starts up again. They start making out, an act accompanied by actual lyrics.
“Oh, the look you gave me then,
told me a thing or two.
I guess I saw it in your eyes.
And the look of love upon your face,
is too hard to disguise.”
And so on, until we get to the chorus. This again proves to be a direct steal of “Everything Is You.” This overlays a shot of the two, silhouetted by the setting sun by they laugh and scamper through the jungle in slo-mo. Sam jogs and leaps around in slo-mo, boobies boobbling aboot. This is the second cornball romantic montage in the last twenty minutes. Which is, by my count, two too many. I personally lost all patience with it when the romantic ballad kicked in with a second stanza.
Sam spins around, still in slo-mo, with her leopard draped over her shoulders. The two, still yet in slo-mo, cavort on the ground with their increasingly grumpy looking cat. (A scene that weirdly augers images of Bo Derek rolling around with an orangutan in 1984’s Tarzan the Ape Man.) Slo-mo Sam spins the long-suffering leopard around while Slo-mo Johnny leaps up and down and claps his hands. It’s like a really bad Indonesian community theater production of Bringing Up Baby.
But wait, there’s more. (Somebody, kill me.) The two cavort in the inevitable Scenic Waterfall-Fed Pool. This is when the ballad’s third stanza started, as I groped manically around for a pen for some sharp object to jab into my eardrums.
Finally, and I do mean finally, night falls. The two are back in the cave, Doing the Deed. In one of the most disconcerting damn things I’ve ever seen, we watch MPM approach the cave, spy in on the lovers and begin leaking tears. (!!) Hearing the angstful ape tearing up some trees, a suddenly post-coital Sam pops outside for a look. She reassures the sobbing simian by gently laying her head in his outstretched boom-hand. Maybe it’s just the cultural difference speaking, but damn, those Asians sure make some weirdass movies.
Johnny again proves his ignorance of movie tropes by telling Sam that he wants to bring MPM back to Hong Kong. Dude, that’s never proven to be a good idea. He assures her that all will be well. The world will be amazed, and Sam and Johnny will still be together. Smitten, she agrees. Sam bids a tearful farewell to her elephant and leopard â€“ it’s sort of like watching a movie called “Leastmaster” — and then the three set off. The leopard tries to follow them, presumably because now they’ll be no one to spin it around in circles. They really milk the pathos here for all it’s worth, a bold statement in a film not exactly hallmarked by its subtlety.
The obedient MPM carries the two to what I’m assuming is the city of Mysore. The citizens, filled with an apparent superstitious dread of bad rear projection effects, flee in terror. As usual when MPM is represented via optical effects rather than on miniature sets, his size fluctuates wildly. Generally, he’s much, much larger than he should be.
The crowd pauses its flight when Sam demonstrates her mastery of the beast by having it lay on the ground. Suddenly Lu Tien drives up in his Mercedes. (??!!) “Lu Tien!” Johnny calls. “I’ve been looking for you!” What, for the entire two minutes you’ve been in town? The scene is played like they arranged to meet, although I’m not sure how that would even be possible. There’s no indication that Johnny had a radio with him or anything. “Where is he?” Lu Tien asks, as if the cowering crowds weren’t enough indication. Pushing their way through, Lu Tien breaks into a smile upon spying the prostate primate. “He’ll do, all right” he observes. However, his reference to MPM as a “stupid animal” red flags the more attentive viewers that tragedy is on the horizon.
Cut to MPM, chained down on the deck of a (rather obvious) model freighter. Sam, still sporting her jungle skins, runs out to comfort the beast. She seems bewildered by his fettered state, as her background has ill prepared her for a life not lived free yada yada. A chortling Lu Tien comes out, smoking a big cigar to further signal us that he’s an Evil Capitalist who Cares Only for Money. Sam pleads for MPM for her furry friend to be freed. Lu Tien refuses, explaining that if MPM could move about he’d swamp the boat by shifting his massive weight around. This is played as further weasly dishonesty on Lu Tien’s part, although it actually makes a lot of sense.
A horrified Sam returns to her and Johnny’s stateroom to enlist his aid. (I became horrified too, after glimpsing Johnny’s hideous spangled polyester shirt.) Needless to say, he isn’t much help. Sam, the guy’s a loser. What do you want me to tell you? I know you grew up in a jungle, girlfriend, but you’ve got to get a little pickier.
Instead of following through in his promise to protect the two of them, Johnny excitedly runs over to the bed and grabs a gift-wrapped box. It holds a horribly uncomfortable black vinyl and snakeskin (yuck) zippered top and short shorts combo that he importunes her to don. “This isn’t the jungle,” he tells her. “Women wear dresses.” She’s removed her old top when Lu Tien barges in without knocking. He pauses to take a good long look. When Johnny eventually notices this â€“ what an idiot â€“ he reacts by covering Sam with a suit jacket rather than by running over and punching Lu Tien in the face. Then, rather than kicking his ass out of the room, he pushes Sam into the closet!! “That wasn’t very discrete,” is the best he can offer the interloper. I have to say, I haven’t seen a protagonist this useless in quite some time.
Lu Tien barged in to inform Johnny that “all tickets have sold out.” Whatever that means. “Just think,” Lu Tien dreamily continues. “Everybody on Earth will pay to see it!” I’m not sure how that would work exactly, but it does sound profitable. Johnny actually bothers to question whether they should exploit the beast, but does so in his typically ineffective fashion. “I’m afraid you haven’t any choice,” Lu Tien warns. Apparently exhausted by his momentary attempt to show a backbone, Johnny joins Lu Tien in going to get a drink. I’d probably have thought better of him had he stopped to get Sam out of the closet first.
Instead, she comes out on her own, quite evidently uncomfortable in the icky skintight clothes her boyfriend’s picked out for her. Realizing that it’s a lost cause, she removes them and tosses the item out the port window. Now if she’ll only do the same to Johnny when he returns, things should start looking up.
Lu Tien and Johnny are down in the common room bending an elbow. The merriment is interrupted when the ship’s captain receives notice of a typhoon approaching the ship. To my vast lack of surprise, the Captain wants to change course and avoid the storm, but is countermanded by Lu Tien. You’d think with this incredibly moneymaking machine that Lu Tien would go out of his way to keep MPM in good shape. Not so. After all, Evil Capitalists in these things are always incredibly shortsighted. (There’s some stuff where if their arrival is delayed, the Captain is obligated by his contract to cover any losses Lu Tien may incur. Which is a pretty weird contract, I’d say.)
Cut to a storm at tank, er, sea. As if MPM weren’t victimized enough by wearing chains, now he’s tied down outside in the midst of a typhoon. Again, what if the ape got sick and died? Then where would Lu Tien be? Suddenly, the freighter turns into a toy and runs aground on a rather unlikely looking atoll. The actors, meanwhile, toss themselves to and fro while the cameraman shakes the camera. See? It’s like they’re in a really bad storm. Get it?
Sam runs out on deck, attempting to free MPM. Where he’s to go exactly remains a separate question. If only they had a gigantically huge umbrella. Johnny helps in freeing one of the beast’s arms, while yelling at MPM to push them off the atoll. He does and the toy ship is saved.
Cue disco music as we shift the action to Hong Kong. Crowds run over and rather needlessly point to the ship bearing the sixty-foot ape guy. Once on land, Johnny takes Sam â€“ still clad in her skimpy jungle skins â€“ over to Charlie’s TV station for an interview. Charlie comes down to the lobby to meet them, and we see that horrifying patterned polyester shirts run in the family. For a guy so consumed by bitterness that he nearly drank himself to death not too long ago, Johnny seems pretty glad to see Charlie. He greets his errant brother without even a token sign of reproach over the little incident with Lin Chang. (Who is briefly seen in the background, obviously unhappy at seeing Johnny and his little blond shiksa.)
Johnny and Sam â€“ could somebody please get this woman some clothes? â€“ are taken to a stage to watch a disco number being shot for a variety show. We get to listen to this entire tune, leading me to believe that the singer was the producer’s girlfriend. Certainly there’s no other explanation for it, unless everyone making the film was a sadist.
As if there wasn’t enough evidence already to prove Johnny an atrocious boyfriend, we now get more. He receives a note and, after reading it, tells Sam to stay there until he returns. There! In the studio! With the disco singer! Anyway, the message came from Lin Chang. Entering her dressing room, Johnny learns that she wants to get back together with him. (Probably since she saw him with the hot blonde.) “You went away,” she moans. “I was so hurt.” Uh, he finds you screwing his brother and you were hurt? Poor baby. This is probably the worst acted scene in the movie, since it’s one that requires, well, acting.
As these maudlin antics play out, the world’s most interminable disco song finally ends. Rising, Sam begins to wander the hall in search of Johnny. Anyway, Lin Chang throws herself into Johnny’s arms and lays a smooth on him. Naturally, this is the exact moment that Sam enters the room. (Just so we get the import of this, there are blaring music cues and a severe zoom shot in on Sam’s shocked face.) Johnny’s pursues the distraught Sam out onto the street, where she manages to elude him. Giving the IQ exhibited by Johnny up to now, I’m not surprised.
Cut to stock footage of a huge stadium, jam packed with roaring stock footage spectators. They’re purported watching the still chained MPM, who’s struggling against the pull of numerous Tonka trucks. First, I found it hard to believe that Lu Tien had scheduled this show like an hour after they hit port. Where there some questions by the custom agent, for instance? Second, would Johnny really take Sam to visit his brother rather than attend MPM’s first exhibition? Third, is having a quartet of yellow dump trunks yanking at him the very best concept for a show featuring a sixty-foot prehistoric ape-man? I don’t know, it seems kind of cheesy. Maybe Lu Tien should have put a little more thought into this.
Oh, and as you’d imagine, the mix of live-action shots, stock footage, projection work, miniature sets and motorized toys (the trucks) fails to be utterly convincing.
Still, the crowd seems to like the show. (So much for making fun of WWF and NASCAR fans.) Pleased with the giant’s evident humiliation, the crowd proceeds to pelt him will the thousands of oranges they’ve apparently brought along for that very purpose. Now, I don’t want to be a cultural snob, but bombarding a gigantic ape with fruit hardly seems like the brightest idea in the world. Nor is the groundskeepers’ response in trying to calm the beast, which is to run out and jab at his rear projected feet with poles.
Sam, still wandering around barefoot and in her leather bikini, sees MPM’s plight via a store window TV set. (By the way, how often do you really see banks of televisions playing in shop windows?) “Look at that,” one doofus chuckles. “The crowd’s going crazy. He can’t break the chains.” Actually, I imagine the crowd would be going even crazier were he to do so. By the way, the yanking-with-trucks thing has been going on for some minutes now, leading me to wonder if that’s pretty much the entire thing. “Well worth the money,” one spectator might brag to his friends. “Watching dump trucks pulling against a giant ape’s chains for three and a half hours while guys poked at his feet with sticks was the greatest thing I’ve ever seen!”
The tearful Sam’s in a bit of a turmoil, needless to say. First you catch your boyfriend in another’s arm, then see your pet giant ape-man being pulled at by trucks and jeered by thousands of orange tossing rubes. Spotting a couple getting into their car, she runs up and points out a promotional poster featuring artwork of MPM surrounded by trucks. (That was fast.) “Take me!” she implores. Because the couple is British, they immediately consent to drive the obviously insane half-naked woman over to the giant ape exhibition. I don’t know, maybe this kind of thing is always happening in Hong Kong. “Sorry we’re late,” they might apologize to an acquaintance. “We had to run an insane half-naked woman over to the giant ape exhibition.” Presumably their friend would roll his eyes and laughingly reply, “Tell me about it!”
With the show apparently over, we now see MPM in a giant cage. (Really, where is Lu Tien getting all this stuff?) Second, would you really stow your star exhibit in a cage so comparatively small that he’s forced to stand upright in it, as in a phone booth? As if this weren’t enough â€“ it’s always something, am I right, folks? â€“ a band of drunken louts with big bamboo poles shows up (??). They begin to torment the creature, because, well, you know, that’s his lot now that he’s been brought to civilization. Again, I know Lu Tien’s supposed to be an Evil Capitalist and everything. Really, though, is it a good policy to leave your caged giant ape out where any passing gang of bamboo staff-carrying inebriates can start poking at him?
The Brits drop off Sam, who runs past the hilariously sedate crowd supposedly leaving the exhibition. (Almost none of who turn to look at the half naked blond woman trotting past them.) Again, security is surprisingly lax, and Sam is able to run across the stadium field to where the men are tormenting her friend. “Take that!” one snarls, while another wittily asks, “How do you like that?” (Want a good laugh? For a second here, you can see the piece of tape they put over ‘Sam’s’ nipple, presumably in case her boobie escaped it’s skimpy prison.)
Sam runs to MPM’s aid. The men begin pushing her around, but MPM’s enraged reaction causes them to run off. Sam climbs into the cage and lays against her friend’s giant prop foot. She weeps, finally realizing that letting Bonehead Johnny make the decisions is a less than an optimal situation. Then Lu Tien shows up. (Continuity Error fans will want to note that in the live shots, MPM can’t extend his arm much past his waist, while in the rear projection shots his paw is all but touching the ground.)
Lu Tien hauls Sam back to his hotel room and pours her a glass of wine. Of course, being the sort of character he is he proves to have contracted a dose of jungle fever and inevitably tries to force himself on her. (Man, what’s with ’70s flicks and rape scenes?) Now, I generally snort at movies showing teeny tiny women casually kicking the asses of 200-pound men. Here, however, I’d frankly expect Sam to put up a better fight against a man who isn’t exactly an Adonis. I mean, you know, she’s lived in the jungle all her life. (Or close to it.) Wouldn’t you expect her to have picked up some physical skills in that time?
Instead, Lu Tien quickly gets the upper hand. In the struggle, however, the curtain gets flung open. Since the hotel directly overlooks MPM’s cage â€“ what are the odds, especially too that the room lies in the one direction the tightly confined MPM can look â€“ the aggravated ape gets a good look see at Lu Tien slapping Sam around the room and then tossing her on his bed. As you’d expect, the pissed primate goes, well, nuts (ha, fooled you) and breaks free of his constraints.
Eventually noticing the irate ape smashing his way towards him, Lu Tien grabs Sam and hauls ass. (Taking Sam along seems like a rather counterintuitive strategy, but what do I know?) Meanwhile, MPM finally gets an opportunity to destroy some miniature sets and toy automobiles and stuff. Luckily, as he shambles through the model streets, we see that the authorities have managed to largely evacuate Hong Kong in the six minutes since he escaped.
There follows a really quite ridiculous sequence where Lu Tien just happens to drive exactly where MPM has ended up. Which is strange, since he’s been cruising the entire time and should rightfully be many miles from anywhere MPM could have conceivably reached. It’s not just the geography that’s off, however. The soundstage shots with MPM in no way whatsoever match the live shots they filmed of the car and its occupants. In the miniature shots, the toy car is the only automobile in sight and is driving through the center of town. In the live shots, the car’s out on a highway and there are many, many other cars to be seen driving around behind it. Moreover, the lighting as they cut back and forth is completely and utterly different. I’m telling you, if the guys at Toho ever turned in work like this they’d commit seppuku.
Lu Tien escapes again. This leads to a series of bad projection shots, meaning that they can actually show people pretending to react to the purported rampaging gorilla. Some cops show up and fire their pistols at the distant beast, which might have been more exciting were I not laughing at the uniform short pants the cops are wearing.
Lu Tien stops and leaves the car to remove a road barrier. Sam tries to run off â€“ duh â€“ but Lu Tien manages to catch her. (Again, this is the woman who was reared in the savage jungle, right?) For some reason, I’m betting it’s so MPM can catch up to them, he decides to drag her into a nearby hotel. By the way, people used to talk about New Yorkers ignoring crime, but Hong Kong’s much worse. Seconds before he grabs Sam we see quite a few people milling around. Yet no one bothers to check out the man hauling the screaming half naked woman around.
Soon we see Lu Tien dragging Sam into a hotel room. Wisely, we skipped the scene in which the fellow and his evident half naked kidnapping victim are registered and given a key. Either that, or hotel rooms in Hong Kong don’t equip their rooms with door locks. Actually, I guess that’s the case, since the room’s bed turns out to contain a rutting couple. Then MPM’s hand comes smashing through the window. (??) I mean, pretty much at the exact second. I must admit that I’ve never been to Hong Kong, but for this film’s geography to work the entire city must be about a square mile in area. This is another good scene for continuity error fans, as the miniature shots show MPM with his arm sticking into the window up to his shoulder. Meanwhile, the live shots portray his boom-hand as reaching not much past the wrist.
In any case, MPM gets Lu Tien in his mighty boom-hand grip and hauls him outside. Then, to the gasps of horrified onlookers â€“ reacting to the mÃ©lange of ineffective effects shots, perhaps? â€“ he tosses the miscreant to the ground. Lu Tien somehow survives this without much apparent injury, but then is trod upon by MPM’s mighty prop foot. This is a favored giant ape reprisal technique, as featured in both the original and remake King Kongs (in the latter version it’s Charles Grodin getting squished) and King Kong Lives.
The British commissioner of Hong Kong (police or colony?) takes charge of the military forces assigned to deal with the situation. Probably because the soldiers, unlike the cops, wear long pants. Soon extras are watching bad rear screen projections of toy tanks mobilizing to meet the threat. (One can only imagine the panic were the public to learn a giant ape was running around stepping on rapists.) This all leads to the money shot sequences of rampaging giant monster action. Poorly edited and realized rampaging giant monster action, sure. But rampaging giant monster action nonetheless. This involves much more stepping on of people, smashing through electrical wires, that sort of thing.
Johnny appears at police headquarters. Looking for their help, he tactfully avoids mocking their pants. He rather easily gets to talk to the head man, given the situation. Johnny proposes that they find Sam, who should be able to calm MPM down and stop his rampage. The police chief agrees, and is told Sam is dressed all in animal skins. (Since this is Hong Kong, the fact that she’s a Caucasian with long flowing blond hair might also help.) Agreeing that she should be hard to find â€“ after all, Hong Kong’s only like a square mile in size â€“ he puts out an APB on her.
Next thing we know the crowds we only see in the live action shots are pursuing Sam. Apparently the Chief put the APB out on via the Civilian Telepathy Network. It’s like a Hard Day’s Night, only in color and lacking the Beatles and filmmaking talent. Sam tries to escape by humping her way up a lamppost â€“ a trick that good can’t be used just once â€“ but this proves a less than successful stratagem. Therefore she leaps onto an abutting hill and scampers off.
Meanwhile, MPM is sustaining direct fire from the main guns of two toy tanks. I admit that these cannon are of comparatively small size, but c’mon. A giant gorilla shouldn’t be what amounts to bulletproof. Anyhoo, MPM picks up a big smokestack or something and squishes his armored tormenters. An act, needless to say, that results in gigantically huge fireballs.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner is spitting out orders on the radio. Wisely, he wants to be as clear in his intent as possible: “All units, you are to concentrate your fire. And also intensify it. Anything to kill Peking Man! Anything to kill this Peking Man! Kill the Peking Man by any means you can! Kill the Peking Man by any means, that’s an order!” Particularly adept is the order to concentrate their fire. If they actually do so it a way that centers it on MPM, they should kill him much more quickly than if they all just fire in whatever directions their guns are currently pointing.
And so MPM is assaulted by the strangely ineffective fire of several toy tanks and helicopter gunships. (Hong Kong’s military forces seem to number around a half dozen of each, if that.) This apparently goes on for several hours, as we cut to a shot of Johnny in a cop car in which it’s now pitch black out. (??) Sam, who hours earlier was being chased by huge crowds, is now skulking around in the plain sight of several dozen rather blasÃ© pedestrians who pointedly ignore the half naked blond woman. (Hasn’t this burg been under attack by an invulnerable giant gorilla all day? You’d think they’d at least be at home watching the news.)
Sure enough, we cut back to MPM and it is indeed now nighttime. He’s looking little surprisingly good, considering that he’s still absorbing the latest of what must be hundreds, if not thousands, of direct tank cannon hits. By the way, would helicopter really being flying around through this free fire zone? I know the tanks were ordered to concentrate their fire, but that’s really impressive.
Realizing he might be in trouble were he to keep taking such fire for another day or two, MPM decides to scale a tall building. (This is, after all, stipulated in the Rampaging Giant Ape union rules book.) Luckily for the actor wearing the MPM suit, the outer concrete walls of said edifice sport row after row of empty round portholes. Presumably this is the headquarters of the Swiss Cheese Council. In any case, said holes happily function as perfect hand and footholds for the ascending ape. Also, I’d say the building is, tops, ten or fifteen stories high. You can almost hear King Kong snorting in derision. Compared to climbing the Empire State Building, this is amateur hour stuff.
At this point MPM is finally looking a little worse for wear. (Probably because we’re counting down to the film’s ten-minute mark.) For instance, the bullets and shells now have the inexplicable sudden ability to draw really red stage blood. This they do, and in some profusion. Once he’s reached the top, the Commission issues a new order. The building’s water reservoirs are to be “filled with gasoline and explosives.” These will then be set off, bringing down the building and killing MPM in the process. How exactly you’d get the gas and explosives in the reservoirs eludes me, but that’s a niggling detail I guess.
With help from the friendly folks at Mobile, numerous petrol trucks are quickly deployed to the scene. The gas is fed into the building’s water tanks, although I’m not sure where the water that was presumably already in there is going. Meanwhile, Sam’s finally made the scene and is obviously less than pleased with the situation. She just happens to run right in front of the trucking in which Johnny has been aimlessly driving around for the last five or six hours. Again, Hong Kong must be a much smaller community than I once believed.
In a somewhat implausible scene, given what’s come before, the Commissioner rather casually agrees to let Sam talk MPM down from the building. Then the lovers run up the stairs until they reach the top of the thirty-story building. Johnny looks a little winded when they finally reach the top floor, but give the guy credit â€“ he didn’t even bother to take his sports jacket off.
MPM calms down upon seeing Sam, and bends over to lift her lift. All appears to be well, but of course a film like this have to end TRAGICALLY. So the Commissioner proves to be lying weasel â€“ of course â€“ and orders the helicopter gunships back in. He does so under the dubious premise that MPM will now prove easier to kill because he’s calmed down. That really doesn’t make any sense, but whatever.
In any case, the Commissioner’s actions are pretty obviously inspired by those of lying weasel Mayor of New York John Agar in the Dino De Laurentiis remake of King Kong released. A film that, and I’m sure this is entirely a coincidence, had been released the year before Mighty Peking Man came out. In that film Agar promised lovers Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange that Kong will be captured alive if they help calm him down, only to send in helicopter gunships to kill Kong once they’ve done so. You might see the parallel.
The ships fire as the Commissioner rather fragrantly overacts down below. Sam, still held by MPM, takes a bullet in her leg that should have torn her limb right off. Then she takes another .50 slug in the shoulder â€“ continuity fans will note we see blood there before she gets shot â€“ which again results in a surprisingly small wound. By the way, MPM’s just standing on the roof, much like he was before. So I’m still not sure I get why he’d be easier to kill at this juncture. Instead, Sam dies of her neat little injuries. Oh, the Humanity!
Because this sort of movie demands it, one of the helicopter pilots flies too close to the beast and gets batted down. I’ve never really thought of it, but this suggests a corollary to Ken’s Rule of Gunsâ„¢: Ken’s Rule of Helicopters and Jet Planesâ„¢. This stipulates that when strafing a giant monster, at least one pilot will pointlessly get within swatting (or beam weapon) range and get knocked down. In any case, the flaming wreck smashes into one of the petrol trucks, which should by all rights be empty at this point, thus resulting in an even bigger than usual conflagration. Many civilians die in the flame. Oh, the Humanity!
The Commissioner sends in the “bomb squad,” who in Hong Kong apparently set bombs rather than deactivate them, to enter the building and rig the gas-filled reservoir tanks. Actually, if he’s still planning to blow up the entire building I’m not sure why he’d send in the entire Hong Kong Air Force (both helicopters) to rather pointlessly harass the creature. But what do I know?
Johnny tries to interfere with the whole bomb thing, but needless to say doesn’t prove effective in doing so. Annoyed, one of the “bomb squad” soldiers smacks Johnny in the head. Then they retreat, leaving Our Hero behind. I really doubt they’d do this, but hey, it’s Johnny. Who wouldn’t leave him behind? In the meantime MPM reaches in and grabs up a couple of soldiers and drops them to their deaths. That’ll learn ’em. Enraged, well, OK, further enraged, the Commissioner orders the helicopters (now there are like six of them) to attack once more. Again, what’s the point? Also, what happened to that huge fire that was cutting through the city minutes ago? Whatever.
More of the same. Johnny, realizing that he can’t disarm all the bombs, runs up on the roof. There we see that Sam isn’t dead after all. Whatever. He tries to get her to leave, but she won’t leave MPM behind. The Pathos is so thick that even MPM is crying like a big baby. Anyone who’s seen examples of Hong Kong cinema will know that they can lard on the sentiment with a trowel, and this is one such occasion. Oh, the Humanity!
Then, a miracle happens. Johnny gets shot in the leg. OK, I’d prefer to see his head explode into a red mist, but I’ll take what I can get. Still, I’m starting to realize why MPM’s lasted so long. It’s because they’re shooting him with bullets that are basically just powerful enough to deliver slight wounds to people. Johnny grabs Sam and again tries to drag her off. Because he’s Johnny, she instead pushes him down the stairs and locks the door behind him. (Do skyscraper roofs really have access doors that bolt shut from the outside?) Johnny, you are now officially the lamest protagonist in movie history.
Cue Super Big Happy Fun Explosion. Sam is killed again, and this time I think they mean it. MPM is immolated â€“ it’s the feel good movie for the entire family â€“ before inevitably transforming into a flaming ape dummy and plunging over the side to his death. Meanwhile, Johnny is still somehow alive â€“ Oh, the Humanity â€“ and runs over to Sam’s body. (The explosion made a big fireball but resulted in surprisingly, even suspiciously, little structural damage.) Clutching Sam’s body, he weeps.
Then we cut to MPM, who after being fired upon mercilessly for something like eight or ten straight hours, then set aflame, then plunging twenty or thirty stories to smash to pieces an entirely different building, proves to still be clinging to life!! Luckily he kicks off before my eyes rolled so far back they go stuck. Then the sobbing Johnny is seen dragging Sam’s body over to a rear projection shot of the (obviously undamaged) city far below. On this dramatic tableau, the movie ends.
Hey, the ending was tragic. It should have you that died, Johnny! Ya hear me?! It should have been you, ya bastard!!
By the way, and maybe I’m being too picky, but the DVD’s chapter stop menu twice refers to Samantha as “Stephanie.” Seems to me that’s the sort of detail you should get right.
- Placing the camera at the feet of a guy in a bad ape suit and shooting up at an extreme angle doesn’t necessarily make him look ‘big.’
- In Asia, you can walk around in crowded libraries while talking very loudly and not get shushed.
- Men in China have names like Johnny and Charlie, while the women sport monikers like Lin Chang.
- You don’t have to be a white guy to be a bwana.
- If a tiger bites your knee, you lower leg instantaneously disintegrates.
- Sixty foot-tall Apemen possess Ninja-like stealth skills.
- Blonde girls orphaned in dense jungles at an early age will inevitable grow to become lithe women sporting unblemished skin, shiny, tangle-free, stylishly wavy long hair and a ready supply of mascara and eyeliner.
- British people are even more accommodating than I’d previously supposed.
- If a giant ape stamps on a car, it’ll inevitably explode into a tremendously huge fireball. And I mean big ones.
- Hong Kong is home to mostly empty buildings in which maybe five or six hundred people total live.
- It’s harder to respect police officers when they’re wearing short pants.
- Cars in Hong Kong run on large capacity tanks of jet fuel and napalm.
- You more you care for and rely on Johnny, the more screwed you are.
Things I Learnedâ„¢ (concept courtesy of Andrew Borntreger).
Want more monkey mayhem? Read Dr. Freex’s review of the movie!
Summary: The wackiest film in movie history.