King Kong is brought in by an evil ruler to dig for precious gems in a mine when the robot MechaKong is unable to do the task. This leads to the machine and the real Kong engaging in a tremendous battle that threatens to level Japan.
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When a mechanical replica of King Kong is unable to dig for the highly radioactive Element X at the North Pole, the evil Doctor Who and his sponsor Madame Piranha (Madame X in the American release) decide to kidnap the real Kong. As an insurance policy they kidnap Lt. Susan Miller as well as her boyfriend Lt. CommanderJiro Nomura and Cmdr. Carl Nelson (Kong developed a crush on Susan when she Nomura and Nelson visited the Kong at his home on Mondo Island). Kong later escapes and heads for Tokyo. Susan and the others also escape. Who and his minions follow him and activate Mechani-Kong in order to recapture him. Susan is then grabbed by the robot and is taken to the top of Tokyo Tower and a battle ensues between Kong and his robotic replica. Written by
Brian Washington <Sargebri@att.net>
This film was a live action tie-in to the animated TV series King Kong (1966), which was also produced by Rankin/Bass Productions, and not a sequel to King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) (also produced by Toho and directed by Ishiro Honda) as is often suggested. See more »
In the film, Doctor Hu is trying to get some Element X by digging into the land under the ice at the North Pole. There is no land under the North Pole, but there is a lot of it under the South Pole. See more »
Lieutenant Susan Watson:
[talking to another crew member]
Boy, with a good looking nurse like that on board, I wouldn't mind running a fever.
Lieutenant Susan Watson:
Just remember, sailor. I've got lots of castor oil in sick bay. And you too.
Y-yes, Sir. Ma'am. Lieutenant.
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Kaiju fans like me always know well enough to check our desire for (a) believable dialogue and (b) completely realistic special effects at the door when we settle ourselves down to watch what Japan has specialized in for five decades now. As quality filmmaking, King Kong Escapes is of course laughably bad, especially to those who deify the 1933 original. But in the context of Japanese giant monster kaiju, King Kong Escapes is one of the better entries to be found, coming in the 1960s when the focus was less tounge in cheek, more action-oriented, and free of the kiddie thrust that REALLY made Japanese monster movies annoyingly bad in the 1970s (Gamera sequels and Godzilla vs. Gigan anyone?). In a ways, after the dark,brooding seriousness of the original "Godzilla" in 1954, the 1960s saw movies more in the Armageddon-Mummy vein of action, special effects and empty-headed scripts. And while those weaned on GCI will find this hard to believe, the work of Eiji Tsuburaya was considered top of the line for its day (when you stop to think of it, how different are the SFX of Japanese monster movies all that different from American movies, pre-2001: A Space Odyssey? Not much really). And truth be told, I find these kaiju movies of the 60s to have a lot more charm than their 90s American counterparts like "Armageddon" or the Tri-Star "Godzilla."
Eisei Ammamoto, a veteran of Japanese sci-fi, deliciously chews the scenery as the villainous "Dr. Who" while Bond girl veteran Mie Hama ("You Only Live Twice") provides lovely visual distraction as "Madame X", and is far more appealing than the bland non-actress Linda Miller (badly dubbed by cartoon voice Julie Bennett who also dubs Hama!) as the object of Kong's affection (and let's set the record straight, this is NOT the woman of the same name who is Jackie Gleason's daughter, no matter what the erroneous IMDB data base says). The most amusing part of the script is how they almost seemingly plagiarized from "Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea" in their basic premise (a sub commander named Nelson for goodness sake!). No matter though. Bad dubbing, lame script notwithstanding, "King Kong Escapes" is pleasantly mind-numbing fun from the peak period of kaiju cinema.
Incidentally, I'm glad to note that Rhodes Reason, who by his own admission "knew the film was lousy but couldn't pass up the trip to Japan" to make it, was able to overcome this in the long-run and earn better notices as Daddy Warbucks in numerous Broadway productions of "Annie."
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