Sunday, June 29, 2008

DVD Review: KIZIL TUG CENGIS HAN



First off, many apologies to Bill at Onar Films for the lateness of this review, no excuses I just haven't been in the writing frame of mind of late. But don't let my lack of punctuality in reviewing this DVD suggest to you the buying public that this is a lesser product. Far from it. In fact it is easily one of the DVDs of the year, setting an even higher standard for historical importance that usual for our favorite Turkish digital disc specialists. KIZIL TUG is one of the oldest examples of Turkish cinema fantastique and fun little film to boot. Combined with the overwhelming extras provided, this DVD exceeds the high expectations we've all come accustomed to from Onar, no small feat.

The story, like so many Turkish genre films, is a little confusing. This print might be missing a few scenes as the plot careens from point to point with little chance for the viewer to get their bearings. But who knows? As it stands the confusing narrative doesn't distract too much from the fun. A young warrior Turk saves the life of Genghis Khan and is rewarded with what basically amounts to a suicide mission, to go and secure payments from a rebellious Muslim caliph owed to the Khan's now deceased brother. This places our hero in a curious conundrum as it just so happens he's a dead ringer for the caliph's skirt-chasing poetry-loving dandy of a son. The caliph is embarrassed by his son's lack of war-scarred courage and bargains with the young Turk to take his place in a contest of soldiering skills in order to align his family with another powerful family through marriage. I know, it's complicated. It gets even more complicated as all plans go awry leading somehow to the young Turk coming to blows with the infamous Khan himself. While the finer details of the story are somewhat obscure, the movie is never anything less that a blast throughout. While not a surreal as later Turkish historical adventures such as KARA BOGA or the TARKAN films, KIZIL TUG keeps up the action throughout the running time with the climatic battle being especially bloody, surprising for a film from 1952. It's the kind of movie that works really well as a Saturday afternoon matinee kind of diversion, sparking feelings of swashbuckling nostalgia for all of us that can remember when old-school historical adventure films of this sort actually used to play on television. All in all, a real good time.

The DVD presentation of this film does what it can with the meager elements that were available. Long considered lost this is as good as we'll ever see this important film, one of the very first of its kind made in Turkey. It looks OK, not great, but OK. If you've seen Onar's previous TARZAN IN ISTANBUL DVD you know what to expect. More problematic is the soundtrack which drops out and distorts continually throughout the film. Again, this is an incredibly obscure movie and problems of this sort should be expected. More than making up for this is host of outstanding special feature provided. Chief among these on the disc is a portion of documentary on Turkish fantastic films concerning the great historical films which reached the heights of popularity in the late 60s/early 70s. The doc. is chock full of incredible clips and interviews with some of the movers and shakers of the period such as Cuneyt Arkin. It's great stuff, although I think a little of the overall context of the doc. is lost by it being exerted from the whole. But it's much appreciated nonetheless, whetting my appetite for more films of this sort to be released on DVD. Beyond that you get a usual excellent smattering of bios and filmographies by the great Ayman Kole and a batch of new trailer for upcoming Onar releases. And that about wraps it up for this great release ... oh, wait, no it doesn't! The best feature yet in not on the disc itself but is featured along with the disc, a 40 page booklet that sets out to catalog the entirety of every known Turkish Fantastic Film! It's a beautiful, full color affair that lists tons of amazing sounding movies that are sadly, now mostly lost. But the memory lives on here in these spectacular pages, which will no doubt be an inspiration to future generations of Turk-film lovers to continue to seek out and find once lost films just like Onar itself is doing. This booklet is really what sends the release into orbit, assuring its place among the best DVDs of 2008. Get it while you can, Worldweird Faithful!

Available from Onar Films!

4 comments:

The Scandy Tangerine Man said...

This booklet certainly sound more than worth more the price of admission.

Poptique said...

Yup - you've sold me a copy with the promise of said booklet! ;)

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Why you don't post some pictures and the trailer of this disturbing film?

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