The Son of Kong (1933) Poster

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King Kong Lite!
ramaken3324 July 2004
King Kong is the benchmark against which all the monster films for the past 70 years have been measured. Some- like Gorgo, and the Godzilla series, have certainly exceeded Kong in terms of mayhem and carnage, while others, like the Jurassic Park franchise have used the latest CGI technology to, (technically at least) surpass the painstakingly crafted models brought to animated life by Willis O'Brien. However, Kong himself has defied the ages.

The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for The Son of Kong. This film has been much-maligned, and some of the criticism is justified. Still, The Son of Kong is an entertaining, if not magnificent film. Son has the distinction of being the first monster movie sequel: probably, ironically, this is the reason it could not live up to its predecessor. Since the plot has already been discussed at length in other comments, I won't rehash it here.

Considering the phenomenal financial success of King Kong it seems incredible RKO did not allocate a bigger budget for The Son of Kong. In this day of multiple movie franchises, the opposite is often true: each sequel gets a bigger and bigger budget (though in most cases an inferior script). In 1933 however, despite King Kong's huge profits, RKO was still floundering, and the front office considered Kong's success a fluke. They weren't willing to invest more money for a bigger sequel; instead they believed the first film's popularity would 'sell' it, no matter what the quality. Thus, only about half of King Kong's budget was allotted for the sequel. To make matters worse, only about eight months was allowed for its production! Under such circumstances, the Son of Kong was virtually sabotaged from the start. Even so, the film had elements of style and technical polish that salvaged it from being a total loss. The Son of Kong can be considered a legitimate (if not auspicious) heir to his mighty father.

What I find interesting is that the film was promoted back when first released as a 'serio comic phantasy' though little of it was intentionally funny. Robert Armstrong (once again as Carl Denham) was allowed a wider range of emotion, and had some humor imbued in his character, even allowing the formerly hard-boiled Denham to 'crack up and go sappy' for the dark haired Hilda (played by Helen Mack). Likewise, Frank Reicher (as Captain Englehorn again) and Victor Wong (Charlie the cook) got a lighter treatment than the original film, but for the most part the actors played it 'straight.' Likewise with the prehistoric denizens of Skull Island- the Styracosaurus was a definite, if brief, menace, as were the cave bear, the quadruped dinosaur that enters the treasure cave, and the sea monster. In fact the only real comedian was little Kong himself- and sadly, that's the part that jars me the most. In a film that looked as carefully crafted as the original, complete with impressive glass paintings, miniature jungle sets, and even improved compositing, the almost cartoonish style in which Kong Jr. was animated undermines what could have been. Willis O'Brien, who'd labored so hard on King Kong, had reservations over the sequel and script, and supposedly did not contribute that much to the overall picture. Also, tragedy struck during production when Obie's estranged wife shot and killed their two sons, then attempted suicide. It's small wonder Obie had little enthusiasm for the Son of Kong, and for the rest of his life he was reluctant to discuss the film. Instead, it was Obie's assistant Buzz Gibson who completed much of the stop motion. It's possible both Obie and Gibson animated different scenes with Kong Jr., for the ape's animation is smoother in some sequences (for instance, when Denham bandages Kong's over-sized middle finger) than in others, possibly due to Obie's ability to handle more 'subtle' gesture and performance.

Max Steiner, King Kong's composer, created an original (if not quite as memorable) score for the Son of Kong, although during the climatic submersion of Skull Island, much of King Kong's score was inserted, probably due once again to budgetary restrictions. One interesting note about the score; whether it was intentional on Steiner's part or not, he derived a three-note motif for the conniving, cowardly Helstrom (portrayed by John Marston) that is an exact reversal of the famous three-note theme for King Kong. Musically, this unconsciously underscores the fact that indeed, Helstrom is Kong's opposite: while Kong was ferocious, fearless and yet chivalrous and tender with Fay Wray, Helstrom is full of human failings. As the bad guy of the picture, Helstrom isn't a larger than life villain; just an inept drunk who konks his drinking companion with a bottle of booze, killing the man unintentionally. He lies, incites mutiny, and finally tries to abscond with the castaways' only means of escaping the doomed island. He basically represents someone nearly all viewers may have known at one time or another. In other words, Helstrom is a loser.

Overall, the Son of Kong is something of a missed opportunity. There is much of King Kong carried over into this film, due largely to most of the first film's crew (from director Ernest B Schoedsack on down) having worked on this sequel. Considering what little budget and time was allotted, it's a wonder what sumptuous and engaging visuals they were able to deliver. On the other hand, had Willis O'Brien's personal fortunes been kinder, perhaps little Kong would have been given a little more dignity. Next time you decide to view King Kong, try to follow it up with his nearly-forgotten offspring. You may not be as awed, but as sequels go, it's a fine way to spend an hour and some minutes. As a moderately-scaled adventure, and as a footnote to an enduring classic, it's worth taking that extra journey back to Skull Island.
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"The Son" also rises
JerryZ11118 September 2004
Of the films in what I like to call the Great Ape Trilogy ("King Kong," "The Son of Kong" and "Mighty Joe Young"), this is my pet favorite. I loved "The Son of Kong" as a kid but hadn't seen it in years until I rented it recently from my local public library. Was it as good as I remembered? No -- it was even better!

This movie generally gets a bad rap, and I admit that some of the criticisms are valid: It was rushed, it can't compete with "King Kong" in terms of spectacle or horror, it's a light dessert after a steak dinner. Because it's a sequel, it is fair to compare it to the original, and in some respects the comparisons are unfavorable. It's not exactly "Bride of Frankenstein" or "The Godfather Part II." But it's a wonderful film in its own right.

The best thing about "The Son of Kong" is that it makes perfect sense. Carl Denham (played, as in the original, by Robert Armstrong) is being sued by practically everyone in New York for the death and destruction caused by King Kong. That's exactly what would happen, not just in 1933, but especially today, which gives this old movie an unexpected freshness. Also, because of severe budgetary and time restrictions, the filmmakers knew they couldn't make another spectacle, so they wisely went in the other direction. The result is a smaller and far more lighthearted film whose titular character is a charming innocent who acts exactly the way a young ape would act. He's curious, he's playful and he's friendly, but he's also suitably ferocious when attacked or when protecting his human friends, as a watchdog pup would be.

There's also a sweetness and compassion about this film, not only in the kindly attitude toward animals, Little Kong in particular, but in the relationship between the remorseful Denham and the lonely Hilda, touchingly played by Helen Mack, a beautiful and underrated actress who gives what I think is the best performance in the picture.

"The Son of Kong" is wonderfully atmospheric, mainly in the scenes on Skull Island but also in those in Dakang and aboard the Venture. Considering they were so rushed to finish the film, the animators and technicians did a superb job, especially the great Willis O'Brien, who reportedly didn't like the final product. That's too bad, because he did some of his best work on this movie, as evidenced by Little Kong's alternately thrilling and amusing fight with a giant cave bear, by the cataclysmic storm and earthquake that rock the island, and by some of the small touches that set O'Brien apart from everyone else in his field. Kudos also go to Max Steiner, whose musical score is almost as good as it was in "King Kong."

Then there's the humor, which is delightful, contrasting nicely with the darker and sadder aspects of the film. It's provided primarily by Mickey the process server (played impishly by Lee Kohlmar) and, of course, by Little Kong himself. Yes, it's slightly overdone a couple of times, as when Little Kong scratches his head and anthropomorphically shrugs in a display of confusion, but overall it's a welcome and essential element.

In addition to Robert Armstrong and Helen Mack, the actors play their parts well. Frank Reicher (returning as Capt. Englehorn), Victor Wong (back in an expanded role as Charlie the cook, whom he plays with dignity and a certain twinkle), John Marston (marvelously slimy as the villainous Helstrom) and Ed Brady (as a surly mutineer) round out a good cast.

Ruth Rose's script is witty, gritty and realistic. It has been criticized for borrowing, clichés and all, from plenty of timeworn tales, but I don't care. For me, it works. And the finale can mist the eyes of even the strongest man.

All in all, "The Son of Kong" is a terrific, if brief (only an hour and 10 minutes), adventure. It's also a love story, as well as a tale of heroic sacrifice and ultimate redemption. I'm happy to say that one of my favorite childhood movies is now one of my favorite adulthood films, too. Here's looking at you, kid.
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A chip off the old block
bobc-528 May 2004
It's one month after the King Kong fiasco and Carl Denham can't get a break from the relentless stream of reporters and lawsuits hounding him. Kong might have caused a lot of damage and killed a few people, but don't you think that Denham is awfully sorry about it all? And was it really his fault that the chains weren't strong enough? Well, actually it was, and with a grand jury about to rule against him, Denham decides it's time for a long ocean voyage.

Poor Denham must've done something to insult Poseidon, though, because no matter how much he wants to avoid it, he gets blown right back to Skull Island. This time he's looking for a treasure, but when the ungrateful natives force him to land on a remote part of the island, he immediately stumbles upon the orphaned Son of Kong. He knows this because of the obvious family resemblance. We never do find out what happened to Mrs. Kong.

The original was the greatest special effects film ever made, and for reasons more than just the outstanding effects. Any attempt to duplicate this, particularly in a quickly made sequel, could not possibly have come close and would have been nothing more than a shameless attempt to make some quick cash. In other words, a typical Hollywood sequel. The creators of Son wisely do not make this attempt. Instead, using the original's subtle satire of the film industry as its starting point, "Son of Kong" becomes a broad parody of Hollywood movies in general and of the original "King Kong" itself.

At one hour and 10 minutes, this movie is exactly the right length of time. No gag or idea is drawn out for even a moment longer than it is capable of sustaining. The special effects are still excellent, but are now secondary to the antics of the characters, including the comic mugging of Kong Jr. himself. Make no doubt about it, this film is no "King Kong" - but it's not a typical Hollywood sequel either.
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A nice, quick snack
zetes20 July 2001
No one ought to expect lightning to strike twice. No one ought to expect a sequel to King Kong, easily one of the greatest films of all times, to be that great, especially one cranked out in only 8 months, as this one was. Plus, the budget of this one was less than 1/3 the budget of the original. This is why the special effects are so few (and so much less than those of the original). Still, Son of Kong is some fun RKO entertainment. Robert Armstrong is back as Carl Denham, and he is good, although a little weary after his adventures in the first one (it has been a month since Kong died). Fay Wray does not return, and they have replaced her character with a stowaway girl played by Helen Mack. No, she's no Fay Wray, but she's cute and likable. Charlie, the Chinese cook, is back with a bigger part. Although he seems nothing more than a racial stereotype now, for the time his role was probably seen in a better light. He may speak pigeon-English, but he's seen as a human being by the other characters.

The son of Kong is unfortunately more humanized than Kong was (they tried to make him seem more like a curious animal, which I think was the right decision), but he's a chip off the old block, at least when it comes to monster fighting. The animation is cruder, but it is passable. It's a decent flick that runs at only 70 minutes. Don't expect too much more. 7/10
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Fairly Good Sequel to a Classic
Brian Washington29 November 2005
This was a pretty decent sequel to one of the greatest films of all time. Of course, when it first came out it was pretty much a flop. This was due to the fact that it had a lot to live up to, especially since it was released just a relatively short time after the original Kong was released. However, taken alone this film does hold up well as a nice little adventure film and for a change of pace the big ape is not a vicious and destructive creature, but rather a cute and gentle imp who when pushed is a fighter. Also, what is nice about this film is the fact that Denham gets the girl for a change. In the original he was too driven to have a relationship, but at least in this film you are allowed to see his softer side. This film, though not a classic like its predecessor, is still a great film.
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Very entertaining sequel that shouldn't be compared to its predecessor. It stands alone as its own somewhat satirical and lighthearted adventure tale.
guanche15 November 2002
A great little film (about 65-70 minutes) that's every bit as entertaining, though not quite as dramatic as "King Kong". This film has it all. The early part of the movie gives a gritty and realistic depiction of the squalid little fever ports of the South Seas where an old tramp steamer would have gone searching for cargoes in the early part of the 20th century. The atmosphere, down and out characters, and their pathetic circumstances are straight out of a Joseph Conrad novel. It should be noted that Merian C. Cooper, who produced both this film and its precursor, was a former World War I aviator who became a real life "Carl Denham", producing a number of high adventure and "cannibal and jungle" documentaries (often a loosely applied term) that were popular with movie audiences of the times.

After what amounts to a Marxist mutiny (led by a mate known as "Red") the principal players eventually reach "Kong" island in the boat in which they were cast adrift. There they meet up with Kong Jr., a sweet, playful giant gorilla who's still no slouch when it comes to fighting other monsters to protect his human friends. The movie becomes a bit too cutesy towards the end and almost seems to be rushing to a conclusion. I usually find that movies are overly long, but this one could have used more development of its denouement.

I won't spoil the ending but I will say that this is one of the few movies that ever made me cry. Nothing morbid or truly depressing though. A fine family film and truly unique in many respects.
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Will daddy Kong be proud?
mylimbo4 April 2010
Brought out within the same year, the quickly handled sequel "The Son of Kong" would pale in comparison to its milestone original, but would remain enjoyably lightweight with a more prominent comic tone and consisting of a mildly robustness to the action. Too bad it just goes on to rush things, then actually thinking it out because the story isn't as compelling as it could have been. Little creativity shows, despite its stringy sub-plots. The story follows on from "King Kong", as promoter/producer Carl Denham finds himself in a lot of hot water for introducing Kong to New York. So to escape the lawsuits and reporters, he and the sea captain end heading out to sea. Although things change when they're told there's treasure on Skull Island, and before coming across this they encounter a miniature Kong.

After an amusing opening (Denham hiding out) it only goes on to feel like its slogging it out in an stretched out manner, until the lively nature picks up (when they reach Skull island --- which takes them quite awhile) and then it breezes by in no time. Kong's son doesn't have that menace and uncontrollable aggression like father… instead it has a child's temperament; curious, lovable and friendly. Due to that there's little in the way of dark moments and the suspense is faintly structured, with a more playful style winning out and these three stooges antics is even played up to the camera. *Shrug*. Nonetheless the interactions especially between Denham and baby Kong remains charming, if goofy. Even the wrestlemania between Kong and prehistoric beasties can be diverting, if lacking the punch. The likable Robert Armstrong, Frank Reicher and Victor Wong effortlessly reprise their roles. Helen Mack is okay as the female siren. Ernest B. Schoedsack's steadfast direction is measurably controlled due to obvious time/budget constrictions, but decent animation FX is used for Kong.
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OK creature feature but nothing more than that
bob the moo9 January 2006
With journalists hounding him, lawsuits piling up and criminal charges being proposed for the damage his "exhibit" did to New York, Carl Denham decides to get away from it all and hide out with Captain Englehorn, sailing round the world carrying freight. Months go by and he can't help thinking over his discovery, eventually deciding that he should return to Kong Island for another look. A mutiny on the ship leaves him and a few others afloat in a life raft and washing up on the island, where they find diamonds but also the son of Kong, who turns out to be friendly.

Rushed out with little love, a smaller budget than the original film and with nothing in particular to add other than the chance of more box-office success, it is no surprise that Son of Kong is vastly inferior to its parent and regularly given kickings from those reviewing it. Watching it myself, it is easy to understand why because the film has nothing of significant interest in it and really just stands as a fairly average creature feature that doesn't really merit the connection to the original film. The plot conspires to get some of the original cast back onto Kong Island so that they can find jnr, get rescued by him a few times and then get off the island. It isn't an engaging story and the end was just an anticlimax.

The failures in narrative are obviously trying to keep themselves hidden by giving as much time to the creatures as possible. This mainly involves Kong Jnr fighting a bear and a dinosaur; these both look good for the period but they aren't that involving. It doesn't help that Kong Jnr is just a comedy effect for the majority of the film and thus has little or no value as a character. The cast retread their roles without any thanks; they do well enough but you do have to wonder if they regretted doing it rather than just keeping their success from the original.

Overall this is an OK creature feature but doesn't have much value beyond that and certainly doesn't have anything to make it worth holding up beside the original film. The effects are good and there are a few monster fights that will keep children amused but it isn't really worth looking at if you're hoping for more than that.
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Like Father Like Son...Sort of
BaronBl00d9 July 2000
Son of Kong certainly is NOT in the same class as its predecessor King Kong. It lacks that film's inventiveness, creativity, dark mood, and overall horror, yet it is a fine film in its own right. Where King Kong was horrific, Son is charming. It never really takes itself quite as serious as Carl Denham and the captain from the first film leave New York for fear of lawsuits. They end up back on Skull Island with a cute stowaway(played convincingly by Helen Mack), the ship's cook(Victor Wong) and an unscrupulous captain. The better part of the film is the interaction with Robert Armstrong(as Denham again) and Mack with the pint-sized(in comparison to his daddy) Kong. Again we are given natives(briefly) and prehistoric creatures. Baby Kong is adorable and shows how he and his father were thinking creatures as opposed to the mechanical killing of giant reptiles. A nice little film!
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Who's your daddy?
Coventry21 December 2005
Exploitative cinema seemly is of all times… Even in the classic and respectable 30's, whenever a slick producer saw the chance of making extra money of a certain success-formula, he took it. And righteously so! Who could possibly blame director Ernest B. Schoedsack and his film crew for trying to gain some more dollars out the tremendous box office hit "King Kong", released only 8 months earlier? Unlike the milestone his daddy starred in, "Son of Kong" certainly isn't a must-see film, but it nonetheless remains an enjoyable, light-headed little film that still features all the nifty elements of its predecessor, only to a lesser degree. The mini-ape is still an engaging Willis O'Brien creation but his appearance is a lot more brief and comical. The story of this sequel supposedly takes place one month after King Kong climbed up the Empire State Building, and has Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong reprises his role) fleeing from all his New York creditors. He sails off to see and, along with a whole bunch of people that aren't worth introducing, he washes ashore Skull Island again where they encounter the son of King Kong. The film is never boring, but it's totally pointless and it can't seem to decide whether it wants to be adventurous or simply cute. Also, it's difficult to accept the character of Carl Denham as a hero all of a sudden, since he was the greedy bastard responsible for King Kong's downfall.

Oh, and another thing… I'm not a great biologist, but apes don't come crawling out of eggs as far as I know. So, assuming King Kong isn't a hermaphrodite, there should also be a Mother Kong somewhere! Where the hell is she? Wasn't her story interesting enough to tell? Is she such an atypical female that she decided to stay out of the picture during the cinematic adventures of both her man and son? Or maybe she went back to living with Mother-in-Law Kong when she noticed her husband fancied Fay Wray and followed her all the way to New York? Now that's something to think about!
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"You'll never catch a monkey that way."
utgard1431 March 2014
Following the events of King Kong, director Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) finds himself being sued right and left for all the damage Kong did. To add to his troubles, he discovers a grand jury is about to indict him so he sets sail with Captain Englehorn (Frank Reicher). These are the only two of the main cast members from the first film to return. Eventually the two run across the man who sold Denham the map to Skull Island and he tells Denham there is treasure on the island that they left behind when they captured Kong. So they all return to Skull Island, along with a pretty stowaway (Helen Mack). Once there, they find an albino "Little Kong," the son of Kong from the first picture.

Obviously this was a rushed production. It was written, shot, and released the same year as King Kong. In many ways it feels like a B movie. It takes over forty minutes of this barely over an hour movie for Little Kong to show up. Out of those forty minutes, there's maybe ten or fifteen minutes of necessary story. The rest is filler. When Little Kong does show up, it's not that impressive. He's played mostly for laughs, at times resembling the Bumble from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer! But he does have some nice fight scenes with dinosaurs and a giant bear.

Robert Armstrong reportedly liked this movie more than King Kong. If that's true then it probably speaks to Mr. Armstrong's vanity since he got to be the romantic leading man and hero for this one. He's likable and his performance is fine but Carl Denham being made into the hero is one of the many problems with this movie. Denham's rough edges are what made him such a good character in the first film. Softened up, he's a rather bland character and a poor fit for leading man. Helen Mack is no Fay Wray but she's very attractive and does about as well as can be expected given the weak script. Willis O'Brien's special effects are not surprisingly the highlight of the picture. Ernest B. Schoedsack returns to direct, although noticeably without Merian C. Cooper, who is only an executive producer on this one.

Doing sequels is tricky business, then and now. Even more so when you're following up one of the greatest films of all time. The truth is King Kong didn't need any sequels. But greed always wins out in Hollywood. Is Son of Kong a bad sequel? Yes, of course. I don't see how that could be disputed. Is it a bad movie? Not really. It's watchable and even entertaining in spots. But the specter of its predecessor is always looming over it.
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Mediocre follow-up to classic "Kong"
funkyfry4 November 2002
Kong's small son stars in a small movie. Its greatest assets are its amusing effects sequences designed by the legendary Willis O'Brien and the vibrant playing of its female star, Helen Mack, who admirably succeeds Fay Wray in the series. Only the wooden Armstrong has returned from the Kong Sr. cast (as far as I know).

This one aims more for laughs than thrills, correctly assuming that audiences fully exposed (already) to Kong's menace could only be affected in a diminished degree if they had tried to follow similar lines in the sequel. Thus, it is more similar to the director's (and O'Brien's) later collaboration with John Ford, "The Mighty Joe Young", but it's not as charming or fun as "Young".
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Takes Too Long To Reach Its Destination
Theo Robertson14 January 2006
I decided to tape this one afternoon and after about an hour I switched onto see if it had finished . Not quite , but I did see some sort of Muppet who I take was King Kong's offspring and a dinosaur that resembled something a five year old child could have made at school . Hey I thought to myself I think I'll enjoy this

To a certain extent I did enjoy it especially where the Muppet gorilla and the tiny children's paper maiche creations are concerned but I have to point out that they don't make an appearance until late in the film - Too late for SON OF KONG to be a great sequel . Considering this movie has such a short running time too much of the screenplay is spent introducing characters and setting up the final set piece . Worse it does so in an entirely contrived manner and when you've a story that's both long winded and contrived that can't be seen as anything less than a failure by screenwriter Ruth Rose

But let me repeat the final long awaited segment is entertaining especially for children of all ages as they try and stifle a snigger at what is supposed to be a giant ape and prehistoric reptiles . SON OF KONG does have entertainment value , just not enough
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Lightly comic, quickly-made sequel that can best be described as charming
Red-Barracuda6 June 2014
After the huge success of King Kong, RKO produced a quick cash in that was so quickly made it was released the same year as the original! With this speed in mind it's perhaps not too surprising to learn that Son of Kong is nowhere close to the standard of its predecessor. In it, the adventuring entrepreneur Carl Denham flees New York after the King Kong debacle that he was responsible for and ends up back at Skull Island. Needless to say he soon encounters the son of Kong.

It's quite strange for a sequel to even acknowledge the financial lawsuits that follow the mayhem caused by the monster in the previous film. But oddly and charmingly, this one not only does but even goes as far as to make it a narrative springboard for the subsequent adventure. Unfortunately the film-makers decided to replace the horror aspects of the first film with comedy. So the tone of the movie is more playful than threatening, which is to its detriment ultimately. It seems pretty obvious that this film must have been squarely aimed primarily at kids. Unlike his dad, the giant ape in this one seems to really like humans which kind of takes away some of the plot dynamics; although in truth once we meet Kong the action doesn't really move far from the one location. This probably ties in with the quickness of the production; once we finally get to Skull Island we find Kong easily and don't move once we do. It's a shame as it dilutes the adventure aspect somewhat. Nevertheless, Kong does get to fight a dinosaur and a giant bear and the stop-motion animation from Willis O'Brien is still more than decent. It ends on a big scale but kind of stupid climax.

Son of Kong can best be described as a charming movie. It's got a fair few shortfalls, particularly in its very basic screenplay. But it is very short so plot weaknesses aren't too painful to bear and it never gets boring. It's certainly no classic but its good fun overall.
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Interesting first half, falls apart at Skull Island.
Prichards1234527 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Let's face it they were never going to top the original; the makers, given only around a third of the budget and instructed to produce a cash-in quickie opted to make a mildly comedic adventure story rather than the full-on fantasy horror of King Kong.

To be fair, the movie isn't trying to be a masterpiece but provide 70 minutes of entertainment, and for the most part it succeeds. The opening 40 minutes or so, following the further adventures of Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong), are quite well developed and engaging. It plays like one of those South Sea Clark Gable or Spencer Tracey movies and is certainly lively.

Through a series of plot devices Dehnam and a small party end up marooned on Skull Island, and discover that Kong had a son - namely a twelve-foot friendly gorilla who beats off a cave bear and various other reptiles and leads his new companions to a treasure.

Whereas Kong himself is a terrifying creation, the Son is more of a comic buffoon, crossing his eyes when stunned during a fight and generally acting like a b-movie comic relief. The effects are again fine, but there aren't enough of them and the spectacular ending, with the whole island destroyed by an earthquake, feels rather arbitrary.

Still, it's not a bad film, perhaps undeserving of the tonne of brickbats heaped on it's simple minded head.
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More Monkey Business
bkoganbing12 July 2009
If I hazarded a guess, I would say that Son Of Kong came about because David O. Selznick had a lot of leftover footage from the first film and that footage from King Kong did not go to waste when King Kong became the enormous hit it was. This was a sequel that almost demanded to be made.

Labor Day back in New York during my childhood could have been nicknamed Ape Day because inevitably WOR television which was the RKO station ran King Kong, Son Of Kong and Mighty Joe Young. The King, his offspring and Terry Moore's pet entertained a whole new generation of kids for years on that day.

After all the damage that King Kong wreaked upon New York and with everybody and his mother suing Robert Armstrong all the poor guy wants to do is get away from everything, especially process servers. He boards a tramp steamer back to the South Seas from whence he got King Kong. Along with him is Helen Mack who also has reasons to skip out of civilization.

They come upon Frank Reicher the captain who took them to King Kong's island along with John Marston. Interestingly enough the best part of the film is the mutiny led by Ed Brady and John Marston who understandably don't want any part of that island any more. Why this became such an issue for a proletarian uprising is beyond me, still I always get a great sense of satisfaction when the proletariat seaman decide they don't want a captain whether its Reicher or Marston and cast him adrift with the rest of the stranded castaways. It's one of the best examples of defending anarchism I've ever seen on the screen.

Of course on the island Armstrong, Mack and the rest meet up with a discontented native population who say things have gone to pot since their deity King Kong was taken away. Armstrong meets up with a 12 foot offspring of the 50 foot father and he bonds with the baby Kong. I've often wondered where Mama Kong was in all of this.

Anyway RKO made sure there would be no future Kong sequels, but for those who have never seen this film I'm not saying how. Even after over 70 years, King Kong and The Son Of Kong still have the power to entertain. These films will never date.
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One of the best sequels ever
horrorfilmx6 August 2013
Which isn't to say it's better (or as good as) the original KONG, which is a film that will never be equaled (as De Laurentis and Peter Jackson spent millions proving). But as sequels go this one is just right. When modern film makers produce a sequel to a hit movie they essentially remake it only bigger. If the original had ten explosion the sequel has a hundred, if the original had one big angry monster the sequel has five. In other words they take a good idea and turn it into something tedious and overblown. The producers of SON OF KONG shrewdly realized that they could never top the original so they gave us a pleasant little followup instead. As another reviewer aptly noted, SON is a light dessert after a steak dinner, which is just what you want. The effects and action are good, the humor is excellent, and I for one prefer Helen Mack's spunky gal to Fay Wray's insipid heroine. So sue me.
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It's not as good as "Kong", but then again, what is?
In 1933, Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, two former adventurers working in the film industry, created one of the most amazing movies of all time in "King Kong", a grandiose spectacle of horror, action and fantasy about the adventures of a filmmaker (played by Robert Armstrong) in a mysterious island where he finds Kong, a giant ape who is captured and taken to New York in order to be exhibited as "The Eight Wonder of the World". What Cooper and Schoedsack created in "King Kong" was something more than a movie, it was pure magic, as few images in the history of cinema remain as powerful as the scene of Kong standing at the top of the Empire State Building. Given the enormous success of the film, the studios demanded a sequel to be produced immediately, so Cooper and Schoedsack found themselves forced to repeat the hit with a lower budget and tighter shooting schedule.

A month after the events of "King Kong", former filmmaker Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) is constantly in trouble because of the numerous lawsuits following the destruction that Kong, the giant ape he brought to New York, made during his failed escape. Fortunately, his old friend, Captain Englehorn (Frank Reicher), invites Denham to join his new crew and sail to South Asia, where they can make a living and recover from their financial problems. During one of their trips, they find the man who sold Denham the map to Skull island, Helstrom (John Marston), a former captain who convinces them that there is a treasure in Skull island, secretly planning to steal their ship. Determined to find the treasure, Denham decides to return to Skull island, but the adventure won't be easy, as he'll have to deal with a stowaway girl named Hilda (Helen Mack), Helstrom's evil plans, and the Son of Kong.

Ruth Rose, who wrote the screenplay for the original "King Kong", is also in charge of the screenplay for this sequel, and she keeps exactly the same thrilling mix of genres that made the first one so special. However, there are significant changes in the tone of the film, as in "The Son of Kong" she takes a more lighthearted approach and also makes the offspring of the famous giant ape a heroic character. As odd as it may sound, there's a lot of character development in this movie, mainly in the figure of Carl Denham, who through the movie goes from his well-known ambitious persona to a man who learns to respect the beasts he once considered as nothing more than living gold mines. As in the first film, Rose manages to inject a notable dose of realism to the story despite its fantasy touches, without a doubt the result of her own life as an adventurer along her husband (Schoedsack).

Director Ernest B. Schoedsack returns to the detector's seat in this sequel and once again he gives the movie that gritty realism product of his years as a documentary filmmaker. The amazing special effects by Willis H. O'Brien also return, although due to budget and time limitations, their appearance is tragically limited this time. It is mainly because of this reason that this time the actors receive more chances to show their talents. Schoedsack's directing of his cast is pretty effective, and manages to handle his cast as good as he does his special effects. While Merian C. Cooper limits himself only to produce the film, his taste for magnificent epic action sequences can still be felt in the movie, particularly in the grand finale at Skull island, where he delivers as many thrills as his budget and schedule allowed him.

The acting in "The Son of Kong" is actually effective, and at times even better than the one in the film (granted, Kong was the true star of that classic). Robert Armstrong is wonderful as Carl Denham, making his character's personal transformation a very believable process, as he never loses his wit and charm. Helen Mack is one of the film's highlights as Hilda, as she delivers an excellent performance as the young woman who has lost everything and decides to join Denham's adventure. I'm tempted to say that Mack makes a better protagonist than Fay Wray, but honestly, their characters are too different to compare. As the malicious Helstrom, John Marston is very good, never too over-the-top and surprisingly, very human in his role as the film's "villian". Finally, Frank Reicher gives a dignified performance as the good old Captain Englehorn, making the best out of his role.

Despite its many good elements, "The Son of Kong" often gets labeled as "underwhelming" and receives severe criticism because it fails to live up the expectations the original "King Kong" made. Personally, I think that such criticism, while certainly valid, it's a bit unfair, as considering the limited budget and time that Cooper, Schoedsack and Rose had to complete a new film, the result is of good quality, and while of lesser magnificence, it make a fine conclusion to Carl Denham's story. Even the fact that writer Ruth Rose decided to focus on lighthearted comedy instead of thrilling horror can be seen as a wise move, as it finally gave Kong what many wanted him to receive in the original: compassion. True, it's sad to see a movie with great potential to suffer because of lack of time and budget (O'Brien's special effects get even less screen time this time), but it wasn't really as bad as its reputation says.

While "The Son of Kong" is by all accounts a good and entertaining movie, it certainly pales in comparison with its predecessor's greatness, as "King Kong" casts a shadow that's simply too difficult to overcome. However, if one is willing to forgive the film's problems, one'll find a terrific tale of adventures in the same spirit as the original. This is not "King Kong", but it's still a fun ride. 7/10
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Missing footage from Son Of Kong??
Timothy Beer (Tbeer)18 October 2004
I am very interested in finding out if anyone else besides myself

remembers a scene at the end of this movie that is missing from the Turner movies release of Son of Kong. This scene I speak of is pretty clear in my mind as to having been there on TV viewings of this film when I was a child. The missing footage should come between the scene of Carl Denham being rescued from the sunken little Kong's hand into the life boat to the rather abrupt cut to the lifeboat's occupants seemingly dying of dehyration/exposure before being rescued by a Dutch ship.To my recall there was a quick cut after Englehorn pulls Denham into the life boat to the natives in a couple of typical native long boats frantically (almost comically)rowing away in the turbid waters. The chief is seen in the front of one of the boats rowing quickly. To this Denham states "well at least the chief made it" I cannot say if thats 100% verbatium because its been a long time since I've seen it but the quote from Denham is close enough. Anyone else remember this AND would like to comment ? on it?
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Disappointing follow up to a cult classic.
Michael O'Keefe27 October 1999
Carl Denham played by Robert Armstrong flees New York City leaving behind the law suits accrued from his King Kong disaster. Denham meets up with same ship captain (Frank Reicher) and ship that brought the original Kong to America. Having no luck as commercial shippers; they decide to go back to the Isle of Kong and find an offspring of the eighth wonder of the world. Special effects were very good, but few. The cast is rounded out by Helen Mack and John Marston. The thrills and excitement of the original did not lapse over to the sequel.
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All is Forgiven…A Follow-Up was All But Futile
LeonLouisRicci4 May 2015
Quickie Follow-Up to one of the Best Movies Ever Made. After a rather Downbeat and Sombre Beginning, the Movie Loads on the Charm once back on Skull Island and it's all Played for Chuckles and Showcases Little Kong (named "KIKO" but it is never used on screen) as He Befriends His new Playmates and Showcases His Dad's Fighting ability as He Protects and Romps with the Crew.

As a Stand Alone Feature the Movie is quite Affable and even Highly Entertaining (on the Island) and can be Forgiven for not even Attempting to Match the Grandiosity of its Heritage. Everything is done in "Miniature". The Story, the SFX, the Score, and the Willis O' Brien Stop Motion Effects are all Less Attentive.

Overall, a Strangely Insincere Imitation, as the Creative Team all but Surrendered to the Demands of the Studio and Produced a very Cheap and Quickly Made Sequel that Despite all of the Half-Heartedness still Manages to be Worth a Watch despite Forever being in the Gigantic Footsteps of one of the Greatest Films of All Time.

The Whole Team made such a Wonderful Movie the First Time They can be Forgiven, because making "King Kong" (1933) must have left Them, like Stunned Audiences (even to this day) all but Exhausted.

Note…Marian C. Cooper and O'Brien made amends and a worthy continuation of Type in 1949, with the excellent "Mighty Joe Young".
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Fun if Cheaply Made Sequel
Michael_Elliott20 January 2015
The Son of Kong (1933)

*** (out of 4)

Fun sequel to KING KONG finds Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) broke and being sued by just about everyone so he heads off and plans to make a living on the shipping market. Before long he finds himself back on Skull Island when he learns that there might be a treasure there but first he finds a baby gorilla.

KING KONG was released on April 7, 1933 and became an instant smash. You can pretty much tell that this sequel was rushed into production by the simple fact that it was released on December 22 of the same year. Yes, that's right, a movie had its script written, filmed, put together and was on the screen in less than eight months. It should go without saying that THE SON OF KONG doesn't reach the levels of the original but at the same time it's rather amazing that it turned out as good as it did since the budget was cut in half and the filmmakers were under the gun to get it in theaters by Christmas.

I think the film offers quite a bit of fun moments. I do wonder if the sympathy shown towards Kong in the original film is why the filmmakers decided to make his son a good guy. In fact, most of the memorable stuff in the original is missing here including the various pre-code moments. The sexuality and violence is pretty much gone here and in its place are scenes of comedy and cute bits. When we first see Kong Jr., he's stuck in some quicksand and from here on out we see him fight a few prehistoric beasts and pretty much be a puppy dog as he follows Denham and Hilda (Helen Mack) around.

These scenes are actually pretty good simply because of the charming personality they manage to give the little creature.

The special effects this time out aren't nearly as impressive and you can tell that many of the creatures were rushed. Their quality level isn't nearly as great as the original film but none of them are poorly done. The baby Kong design is actually good and the facial expressions are quite flawless. Another major plus is that we get a continuation of the original film since Armstrong is back. He's certainly very good in the role as is Mack in her supporting bit and Frank Relcher is also good in the role of the captain.

THE SON OF KONG is obviously rather cheap but fans of the original should still have a good time with it.
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Clown Prince Kong
Bill Slocum15 August 2014
Was it too much to expect lightning to strike twice the same year for giant-ape movies?

The greatness of "King Kong" lies partially in the way it brings together three mighty rivers of imagination of its day: Classic Hollywood, the exotica of Robert E. Howard-style storytelling pulp, and cutting-edge special effects. "Son Of Kong" takes some of that and adds light comedy for a sequel that almost works, but for the obvious greed of RKO in putting this one out too fast, just months after "King Kong" exploded in theaters around the world.

Not very long after the events of "King Kong," impresario Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) is suffering from the impact of bringing his giant ape to Manhattan Island. Not only did the beast kill dozens before dying himself, but he wrecked the kind of damage that makes for big headlines, and bigger lawsuits.

"I wish I left him on his island," Denham muses. "Old Kong, I'm sure paying for what I did to you."

But Kong has another ace up his sleeve, which gets played when Denham goes back to Kong's island haunt in search of treasure. There he finds Kong's son, a smaller (but still quite giant) white ape. Can Denham and his comrades do better by him than they did by his old man?

Everything that made "King Kong" great is in evidence in "Son Of Kong," albeit in reduced scale, as director Ernest B. Schoedsack and producer Merian C. Cooper had to rush this film to market with a shorter running time and smaller budget. It's almost like the studio was punishing them, and special effects whiz Willis O'Brien, for delivering such a box- office smash last time. Another member of the original "King Kong" creative team, writer Ruth Rose, crafts a script that emphasizes comedy over suspense, and manages a decent job…for the first three-quarters.

When we meet Denham again, he's quite enjoyably under great stress, living in reduced circumstances in a boarding house under siege by crafty process servers. Armstrong was very hammy in the original "Kong," but tones down his performance here with welcome results. He's likable, subtle, and quite affecting, especially as he makes the acquaintance of a young woman named Hilda (Helen Mack) who leans on him after the sudden death of her father. Hilda has a background with trained monkeys that comes in handy as the picture develops.

If RKO had given "Son Of Kong" another year, you might have had a nice screwball comedy interlaced with monster-movie thrills. The notion Rose develops of a more likable giant ape to help Denham work through his survivor guilt is worthy, but entirely too pushed. Instead of an adventure that blossoms more or less naturally, the last twenty minutes are a mix of goofy action sequences and sudden plot twists designed to give the audience more scenes of monster miniatures in combat like they saw in "King Kong," and it feels undernourished.

Even the attempt to make "Son Of Kong" work comedically seems ill- advised, treating us to close-ups of the ape rolling its eyes when it gets knocked in the head and giving Denham a hand trying to get inside a hidden temple. Denham calls the creature "Little Kong," which seems strange given the thing is more than twice his size. But of course Denham is thinking of a creature that dwarfs even a 12-foot-high ape, and so are we.

Ultimately, that's the problem of "Son Of Kong;" it stands too close in the shadow of its illustrious predecessor. Even the existence of this film is often forgotten, while the later "Mighty Joe Young" is remembered. That's as it should be; "Mighty Joe" is a much better film, both as a fun romp and a worthy sequel to "King Kong." "Son Of Kong" employs new elements, like a monster to root for, a Denham we can like, and a lighter touch, and shows where "Mighty Joe" could go. But it lacks the craft and imagination to get there itself.
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Son of Kong
skybrick7366 August 2014
What I enjoyed most of the Son of Kong is being able to relate to the cast and watching likable characters on the screen being portrayed by Robert Armstrong and Frank Reicher. Robert Armstrong was big get and I don't think I would have liked the movie anywhere as much as I did without him. That being said I enjoyed the story leading up the return of Skull Island and the introduction of Helen Mack. The movie lacked at times when tension should have been higher and have a little more pace without drawn out scenes. I liked the message the movie told about mistakes and having to live with them and I was content with the ending. Son of Kong is a good movie to follow up directly after King Kong but its nowhere near as good having some dull and rehashed scenes and ideas.
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Weak as a sequel, but not a bad film
Leofwine_draca22 March 2014
SON OF KONG isn't a particularly bad film by any means, but it's fair to say that it pales in comparison to its monstrously good predecessor and thus is destined to remain forever in KING KONG's shadow. It's weaker than the first film in every respect, and yet despite the flaws I found it to be quite a watchable movie.

The good news about SON OF KONG is that it's short and to the point, with little chance for the viewer to get bored by the on-screen proceedings. The plot is serviceable, utilising simple devices to get some recurring characters from the first movie back on Skull Island, where they inevitably encounter a young, cuter giant ape.

Willis O'Brien's wondrous stop motion effects are once again in evidence here, although they're used quite sparingly and the actual scenes of monster mayhem are sparse, although the ending doesn't disappoint. The characters are one-dimensional and the script is straightforward, but there's the requisite amount of adventure and atmosphere for fans of this enjoyably dated genre to enjoy.
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