How do you top a film like King Kong vs. Godzilla? Well one step in the right direction is to make Kong’s nemesis a giant robot version of himself. I so loved the look and design of the Mecha-Kong when I was a kid that I grabbed a bunch of building blocks, and tube of Elmer’s glue to build my own. Seeing it this many years later one thing stands out clear, which is that every military in the world should at least have one giant robot Kong in their arsenal. King Kong Escapes was produced by Rankin/Bass too tie in with their animated series The King Kong Show, which ran from1966 to1969. As part of their licensing deal for the show they had to deliver a new live action feature film, so they united themselves with Toho Productions allowing us once again to be treated to the sight of Kong stomping
The film begins with a submarine gliding through the depths of the South Pacific on an oil seeking mission for the United Nations. Lieutenant Susan Watson, a nurse aboard the sub, walks in on Commander Nelson (no not the guy from I Dream of Genie), and Lt. Commander Jiro Nomura who are going over some artist rendering of Kong. The idea of a giant ape intrigues Susan, but though their mission goes near
Meanwhile at the North Pole inside a secret base we get our first look at robot Kong. Dr. Who (no not the Timelord) has built the robot under the exact specifications from drawings stolen from Commander Nelson. Madam X, a representative of the government that hired Dr. Who, is not convinced that he has not just made a giant toy, but he assures her that his robot can do everything the real Kong could do. For those of you wondering exactly what one would need with a robotic replica of Kong for, well the answer is simple, to dig out element X (and no it isn’t the shaving cream atom, that’s Illudium Phosdex and located on Planet X), a mineral that will apparently lead Madame X’s country to nuclear domination of the world within 100 days. Unfortunately Mecha-Kong’s first trial does not go that well as the magnetic mass of element X fries the robots circuits, and Dr. Who is forced to re-engineer Mecha-Kong with shielded circuits.
Back aboard the submarine an underwater rock slide causes damage to the ships reactor and rudder, so they put into bay on
Back in New York Nelson briefs the UN council on the nature of
The expedition finds traces of a battle, remnants shell casings, and ether residue, but it’s the finding of dying Ben Gunn that tips them off, with his last words he tells them that, “An oriental skeleton, a devil with the eyes of a gutter rat, kidnapped Kong, and took him away into the sky.” This is enough for Nelson to deduce that the man behind it all must be, “My old friend that international Judas, Dr. Who.” (This guys is better than Sherlock Holmes)
Dr. Who’s plan is to use hypnosis to control Kong, with the back-up plan of kidnapping the easily duped Nelson, Susan, and Nomura, and using them to control Kong. Once again things don’t go quite as plans as no sooner does the hypnotized Kong begin digging out the element X then it’s radioactive properties free Kong from his hypnotic trance, so on to the back-up plan. First they attempt to seduction and bribery, with Madame X to work her wiles on Nelson, and of course this fails as Nelson is you know, heroic and stuff. Next Dr. Who invites Nelson for a game of chess while the cell with his friends inside is turned into a deep freeze. Stoically our hero plays chess while Susan and Nomura freeze their asses off. (Is this guy really the hero?) In the frigid cell Nomura offers Susan his shirt, but she refuses and proceeds wrap her arms around him for warmth. (Wow, looks like the sidekick may get lucky)
On to Dr. Who’s next brilliant move, he arrives at the cell and proceeds to threaten to scar Susan by pressing her face against the freezing steel walls, luckily this when Kong, who had been locked in the mining tunnel behind a huge steel door, decides to make his escape. Dr. Who and the guards rush to see what is going on allowing Susan and Nomura to get free and hook-up with Nelson…and Madame X. Mecha-Kong is quickly sent out after Kong, while the trio is recaptured while sharing a drink with Madame X.
After a nice swing Kong arrives in
Just as the army is about to engage Kong Nelson arrives at army headquarters and tells them that to attack Kong will only insure the destruction of Tokyo, while Susan and Nomura have made it to the front lines and manage to calm Kong down…well calm right up until Mecha-Kong shows up. Susan tries to get Kong to run away, telling him hat he can’t beat a machine, but being a guy Kong ignores her and goes onto prove he’s got the right stuff. Mecha-Kong seems to have the advantage as he has been outfitted with the hypnotic device, and when it’s engaged Kong is powerless. Luckily Nomura is a sharp shooter and is able to disable the device with a few well placed shots (well folks looks like we may have found our hero). Freed once again from the hypnotic trance Kong goes into battle mode. After tossing Kong around for a bit Mecha-Kong picks up Susan and proceeds to climb
Meanwhile on board the ship Madame X makes her move, it’s not a brilliant move, and results in her getting shot in the arm with her own gun.
King Kong climbs up after Mecha-Kong, I guess he doesn’t give into blackmail…that or he’s an ape and had no idea what Dr. Who was babbling about. Kong reaches the robots foot and starts tugging on it. This causes Mecha-Kong to drop Susan, and Kong makes the catch of the day. Kong places her in a “safe” place on the tower and continues to climb up after the robot, and getting kicked in the head quite a few times for his troubles. The titanic struggle is not doing the structural integrity of the tower any good, and soon it is been shook to pieces. Nomura races up the tower and rescues Susan as the two giants’ battle far above them. Mecha-Kong steps on a power cable which seems to short out some of his controls, and before Dr. Who can switch to his back control Madame X makes her move (yeah they kept her around after that first brilliant move of hers), and she pulls out all the control cables. Dr. Who puts to rounds in her chest, but as she dies so does Mecha-Kong, as it topples to the streets below, smashing to pieces.
Nelson arrives and Susan runs into his arms. WHAT! She goes with Nelson who has done nothing in this film but desert her, play chess with the villain, and make time with Madame X! While Nomura has put his ass on the line for her time and time again! Man he was so jipped! For a minute there I thought this film was going to be real progressive and the Japanese dude was going to end up with the chick. I guess I was just being delusional.
Well the movie is quickly rapped up as Susan sicks Kong on Dr. Who’s ship. Kong dives in after it, gives the boat a right royal pounding and the international Judas know as Dr. Who is no more. As Kong starts his long swim back him she tries to call him back, but is told to let him go as, “Kong has enough of what we call civilization.”
King Kong Escapes is a much more straight forward story, and nowhere near as goofy as King Kong vs. Godzilla, and for sheer coolness of Mecha–Kong it gets my vote. But I highly recommend both films for a guaranteed fun evening.