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King Kong Escapes(1967)
A Colossal Battle Between Two King Kongs! It's King Kong to the rescue when a giant robot threatens to destroy Tokyo in the gripping King Kong Escapes! The action begins when the conniving Dr. Who builds a robot Kong in order to retrieve a highly radioactive element for his mysterious benefactor, Madame X. When the robot proves less than reliable, the devious duo scheme to kidnap the real Kong from his remote island home of Mondo. Interfering with their plans are the heroic trio of U.S. Cmdr. Carl Nelson, Lt. Jiro Nomura, and Kong's current crush, Lt. Susan Miller. It's up to them to outwit the greedy ape-nappers in this sci-fi adventure that takes Kong to unprecedented heights of excitement.
For more about King Kong Escapes and the King Kong Escapes Blu-ray release, see King Kong Escapes Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on April 10, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Rhodes Reason, Mie Hama, Linda Miller, Akira Takarada, Hideyo Amamoto
Director: Ishiro Honda
» See full cast & crew
King Kong Escapes Blu-ray Review
"He's going home. I think he's had enough of what we call civilization!"
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, April 10, 2014
With a brand spankin' new Godzilla set to invade theaters in less than a month, giant monsters movies are lumbering out of the sea by the dozen. Announcements, releases, bargain bin sequels aplenty... if it has Godzilla on the cover, it's suddenly all the Blu-ray rage. Even Universal is diving in headfirst, first with Ishir˘ Honda's King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) and then with Honda's King Kong Escapes (1967), the latter sans Godzilla. Normally, such a deluge of lesser Japanese big-creature features would be a godsend for collectors and completists. What could possibly spoil the fun? Particularly for those who have a special place in their hearts for Honda's so-bad-they're-a-blast Toho Company King Kong flicks? Not a whole lot apparently. Priced to sell and backed by fairly decent AV quality, there isn't much here to prevent diehard fans of the towering icons from taking advantage of the catalog-broadening opportunity Sony's Godzilla reboot has provided.
King Kong, having fallen in love with the beautiful Lt. Susan Watson (Linda Miller), is kidnapped from his Mondo Island home by the evil Dr. Hu (Eisei Amamoto) to dig for precious gems in a mine when the robot, MechaKong, is unable to complete the task. Soon, though, the machine and the real Kong engage in a tremendous battle that threatens to level Japan.
Getting your money's worth out of King Kong vs. Godzilla or King Kong Escapes requires one to fully embrace the films' decidedly outmoded production values, camp-tastic performances, hilariously horrendous English dubs and rubbery, all too (wonderfully) cheesy special effects. Truly savoring these rickety classics, though, requires keen Mystery Science Theater 3000 sensibilities and an unapologetic love of mega-monster showdowns. If that sounds like a popcorn-laced ticket to a wildly entertaining Saturday evening, you're in luck, because King Kong vs. Godzilla and King Kong Escapes deliver the floppy fun, and then some. If not, it's probably best to start with the original Godzilla (1954's Gojira) or King Kong (1933), both of which significantly outclass and outmatch this Toho Company twofer. (There are even a number of Godzilla gems arriving in the coming weeks and months from Sony, Kraken Releasing and Tokyo Shock.)
Choosing between King Kong vs. Godzilla and King Kong Escapes isn't easy. Vs. certainly takes its "versus" literally, staging an all-out clash of the titans that takes its sweet time coming to fruition (more than an hour actually) but doesn't hold much back. Miniature villages are crushed, paper mache mountains crumble, styrofoam rocks are hurled, lightning strikes, waves rise and fires roar, all as Kong and Godzilla smash, bash and tail-grab one another in front of a small army of terrified onlookers. Escapes is a different beastie, though; one that provides more laughs from start to finish despite investing far more attention into its human characters and silly evil scientist plot than its titular behemoth. Even the final battle between beast and machine is rather anticlimactic (both Kong and MechaKong are rather dopey), paling in comparison to the twists and turns of the nefarious Dr. Hu's sneers and schemes.
But why choose when you can indulge? Break out the snacks, invite a few like-minded friends over for the evening and host a Double Feature. A good time will be had by all... or maybe just you. Either way, own your niche. Relish it. Build a collection around it. Ignore the scoffers, the middling reviews, the dismissals. Life's too short and movies -- the great and the mediocre alike -- are plentiful.
King Kong Escapes Blu-ray, Video Quality
As is the case with King Kong vs. Godzilla, print damage is the real monster of King Kong Escapes. Scratches, nicks, specks, top-edge tape marks and other distractions pop up on a regular basis, and with a bit more frequency than in Kong vs. Godzilla. Crush takes a slight toll too, although I'm happy to report there aren't many other issues of note. Grain isn't quite as refined and natural as it is in KvG, but any noise reduction that's been utilized appears to have been employed judiciously. Smearing and waxiness aren't a problem; the grain itself is just somewhat pulpier. That said, colors are more vibrant, skintones warmer, primaries stronger, blacks levels a bit deeper, and contrast more eye-popping. Detail is quite impressive too, with crisp edges, pleasing textures and an overall clarity that, at least for the time being, makes this the definitive presentation of the film. Now if only something could be done about the print damage without sacrificing the integrity of the image. That, of course, would require an investment, though; an investment Universal isn't likely to grant an obscure 1960s King Kong pseudo-sequel. Even so, I didn't expect to be so impressed. If it weren't for all the print damage, my score would be higher.
King Kong Escapes Blu-ray, Audio Quality
King Kong vs. Godzilla and King Kong Escapes offer comparable English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 tracks, neither of which is all that problematic or remarkable. Dialogue is generally clean and clear, minus the usual tininess, ringing and prioritization mishaps that tend to be an inherent part of the sound designs of low-budget 1960s cinema. Effects are relatively weighty too, although I would have liked to see a more invigorating 5.1 remix (with booming LFE support and assertive rear speaker activity) alongside the original audio mix. Still, both tracks get the job done without major incident.
King Kong Escapes Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray edition of King Kong Escapes doesn't include any special features.
King Kong Escapes Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
King Kong Escapes isn't a classic Kong sequel, or even a very good pseudo-sequel. It's little more than a so-terrible-it's-terrific bit of fun aimed at a niche audience, but more power to them. With the right frame of mind, King Kong Escapes can be a hilariously campy throwback well worth a watch. Universal's Blu-ray edition has something to offer too, namely a fairly faithful AV presentation. Still, an abundance of print damage and a barebones disc hold back what could have been a better supported monster movie release.
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King Kong Escapes Blu-ray, News and Updates
• King Kong Escapes & King Kong vs. Godzilla Blu-rays - January 29, 2014
Universal Studios Home Entertainment is bringing two giant monster catalog titles to Blu-ray in April: Ishir˘ Honda's King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) and King Kong Escapes (1967). Both Toho Company films make their Blu-ray debut on April 1st.
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