It seems like every time I review one of these Turkish movies, every one of my readers with so much as a drop of Turkish blood in their lineage gets upset with me. It’s as though my opinion of these Turksploitation movies is a reflection on their culture as a whole. Thousands of years of Ottoman/Turkish culture, undone by a snarky movie reviewer in a part of the United States that most people mistake for Canada.
But can you blame me? Even if you’re 100% Turkish, how can you possibly get upset at me for picking on these remakes? They’re absurd! All of them. Don’t misunderstand, though. I’ve seen some genuinely excellent flicks from Turkey and reviewed them extremely well. I can’t possibly recommend Son Osmanli and Karanlik Sular enough and as a sort of atonement for a very bad move on my part last year, I try and direct people to the Onar Films site all the time because as well as the ridiculous remakes and super hero movies that Bill Barounis releases, there is a handful of outstanding pictures there that qualify as excellent. But let’s get serious. For all the quality pictures out of Turkey, there’s an awful lot of garbage. Just like here. So let’s dance, shall we?
A wealthy Turkish man is kidnapped in the mountains on the border of Iraq by Kurdish bandits. After a bloody gun fight, the military manages to capture a couple of them alive and throws them in a cage with a bad ass named Serdar. However, while transporting the prisoners and Serdar to court, Serdar stages a daring escape and breaks the two bandits out with him. To express their gratitude, they agree to take him to their mountain hideout where the leader of the bandits, Ziya, lives. Unfortunately, Serdar is a plant by the Turkish army and it is his mission to take them down from the inside. From here on out things get fishy and it’s tough to tell what’s going on. En route, Sedar and the bandits take shelter in the home of an old man and his daughter. When the old man is shot by bandits, Serdar, the girl and the only surviving bandit are taken in for torture and questioning by Ziya. Even though Serdar is buried up to his neck in mud, he is now in the perfect place to make his move on Ziya, but not before a whole hell of a lot of convoluted bullshit goes down. Oh, and that wealthy Turkish gentlemen from the opening isn’t what he appears to be.
It’s not a complete remake of Rambo but you notice a few similarities off the bat. Serdar begins as a prisoner. He later picks up a girlfriend who then dies, but rather than the capable American agent, Co, from Rambo, this girl is just a sobbing, nervous wreck who speaks from beyond the grave in the finale of the movie. Serdar is tortured and during the finale of the movie, he wields a Soviet era RPG like Stallone does in the iconic Rambo posters from the 80’s. There’s also the headband, of course.
This is the sort of movie that Mystery Science Theater would have had a field day with. In spite of the typical ten day production schedule of Turkish movies, Rampage takes itself very seriously. Where you would think that the production staff would be well aware that they were making a dog, it would seem that they completely failed to notice that end product was sillier than Monty Python. Rampage was directed by Çetin Inanç who is infamous for directing a feature called Dünyayi Kurtaran Adam, better known to you and me as Turkish Star Wars. As well as Rampage, he also did Turkish Rocky, which also stars Rampage star Serdar Kebabçilar. Inanç, after directing a string of porn in the 70’s moved to regular ripoff features in the 80’s and produced a series of movies that would appoint him the reigning king of the remake. Among the three mentioned previously, there is also Turkish Dirty Harry and Turkish First Blood (completely unrelated to this picture) not to mention Death Warrior, a Turkish ninja movie with zombies. The madness never ends, folks. These flicks are widely available on the bootleg market and all must be seen to be believed.
One of the questions I’ve always had about Turkey and the Turksploitation wave that amounts to ripoffs of American movies is best expressed in one word. Why? I’ve never been able to find good information that fills in the blanks. Why remake American blockbusters with staggeringly retarded facsimiles when it was probably easier to import the flicks that they stole from? The licensing and translation fees probably amounted to the budgets of these ripoffs. The making of featurette on the Rampage disc answers that question. It’s not really a making of Rampage featurette so much as it’s a making of the Rampage DVD and takes a little time to explain the film industry in Turkey which has its legs in the 1950’s. In that time, the Turkish film industry was running wild, producing hundreds of movies a year on shoestring budgets but the 1970’s came and film was replaced by television and the industry reacted by shifting to porn. Of course, the industry shifts again in the 80’s when the government was taken over by the military and racy sex flicks became illegal. The only way to draw people to the movies was to make stuff that looked like Hollywood pictures and BOOM! an exploitation market is born. Turkish filmmakers weren’t doing much different than what Italy or Bollywood had been doing since the 60’s, either. Their films have a trademark ineptitude that distinguishes them from the exploitation markets of Italy and India but in truth, a film like Turkish Star Wars (The Man Who Saved The World) isn’t all that far off from some down and dirty bullshit like Starcrash and Korkusuz (Rampage) isn’t all that different from Bruno Mattei’s particularly idiotic Strike Commando.
The film, itself, isn’t really much to talk about. It’s the sort of thing best enjoyed over a savage session of bong rips. The acting is completely fucking terrible, full of strange behavior and not one of these”actors” has anything approaching chemistry. To boot, Inanç relies on an editing style that would make McG nervous, opting for dialog cuts that last less than a second at times. Firing back and forth between steeley eyed glares as no one says anything for spans of five minutes at a time. He often uses the same stunt takes over and over during gun fights and fist fights.
If you want something to laugh at, though, the action in this movie is something to behold. During the epic and explosive finale, a reasonable approximation of an RPG finds its way into Serdar’s hands and even though it comes loaded with a single rocket, Serdar seems to find rockets laying all over the place so that he can reload. When the RPG is fired, the rocket looks as though it is either being pulled off of the gun by fishing line or there may be an air gun inside to blow it off. There are also hilarious fist fights, one fight has a man pounding away at Serdar’s chest to no avail. Serdar stands his ground, pecs flexed, only to unload on the sucka with a haymaker that sends him flying.
Producer Ed Glaser is on to something here. This Dark Maze release is practically a restoration. The picture is uniformly terrible but that’s because this film’s best print is only available in heavily damaged beta tapes. Dark Maze provides, for the first time, a newly translated English dub with good voice acting that knows exactly what they’re doing. The guy voicing Serdar does his best Stallone. To boot there’s an all new music track, which is actually quite good, in order to replace the original score stolen from Rambo and The Road Warrior. Rounding out the package is a generous helping of supplements, of note is a very funny and extremely informative commentary track that is part of history of the Turkish film industry and park Rifftrax. There’s also a small poster gallery, trailers for other Dark Maze releases, the original title sequence (for some reason) and a making of featurette that gives you an idea of what Glaser and his crew went through to get this movie into your hands.
Fans of fucked up niche cinema are strongly advised to check this release out. They still make bad movies these days, but they don’t make them like this any more. It’s almost indescribably bad in such a good way.