Mr. Tako, the chairman of a pharmaceutical company, learns the roma tomato-sized berries that grow on Farou Island are a miracle cure, and that the natives worship a god called King Kong who has allegedly grown to giant size from eating the berries. What better way to promote the product, Tako figures, than to bring the creature back to Japan? He leads an expedition with Sakurai and Furue to get the berries and the monster. Meanwhile, some American pilots discover the chunk of the glacier Godzilla was sealed in back in 1955. Sakurai's sister's boyfriend Kazuo is busy trying to sell an invisible but super-strong wire, which of course no one wants until Kong escapes... Written by
Scott Hutchins <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Before Freddy VS Jason, before Aliens VS Predator, even before the clash of the titans that is Puppet Master VS Demonic Toys (but after Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man, obviously), there was King Kong VS Godzilla.
Before I proceed with this review, I should point out that the version I have seen is the American one, which is dubbed and had several scenes added featuring a United Nations news broadcast. The original Japanese release was apparently much more satirical in tone, whereas the American version removes all the comedy. It is still enjoyable as a giant monster movie, though.
This movie originally began life as a stop-motion feature entitled KIng Kong VS Frankenstein, and was conceived by Willis O'Brien as a sequel to the 1933 Kong, gradually turning into a Godzilla movie after Toho studios got involved. Although there are some brief stop-motion sequences, it is by and large a typical kaiju ega movie (in other words, it's men in rubber suits). While fans of O'Brien's still-impressive stop-motion work on the original King Kong may be irked by the idea of the big ape being played by a Japanese guy in a suit, I personally think Kong looks pretty cool (it's certainly more impressive than the suit Toho used for their second Kong film, King Kong Escapes).
There are some inconsistencies, most notably the fact that King Kong and Godzilla were radically different sizes in their respective films, but Toho got around this by the simple expedient of ignoring it. We've got two great big monsters beating each other up, so who cares about details? Also, in the original King Kong, the big ape had no special powers beyond being very strong, whereas Godzilla has radioactive breath; Toho addressed this seeming imbalance by having Kong derive strength from electricity, whereas Godzilla is weakened by touching power lines. One point that bugs me a little is the fact that, although this is the third Godzilla film, and the second to feature King Kong, there seems to be no connection to the previous movies. When the two monsters appear, the human characters act as though they have no prior knowledge of them, which seems odd when you take into account Godzilla had twice previously tried to destroy Tokyo, and King Kong did make kind of a mess of New York. King Kong VS Frankenstein was intended as a sequel to the original, but this idea was obviously dropped from the movie it became.
The climactic fight between the two monsters is great fun, sort of a giant sized version of a WWE match, only with more believable physiques and personalities. Kong shoving a tree down Godzilla's throat and the big green guy responding by walloping Kong with his tail are highly entertaining moments; obviously not as spectacular as the scenes of Kong fighting the dinosaurs in either the 1933 original or Peter Jackson's remake, but that's not the point. King Kong VS Godzilla is an enjoyable example of this type of movie; if you're new to the kaiju ega genre, it's an excellent starting point. It's just a shame King Kong VS Frankenstein never got made. Maybe if we all ask Peter Jackson nicely....
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