Friday, January 6, 2012

Shikari (1963)

One of my many goals in life is to collect every single King Kong-related ever made. It can be official Kong's or just good old rip-off's from all over the world. I haven't succeeded yet, but I'm getting damn close. The latest movie in my collection is Shikari, a 1963-hit that manages to combines King Kong, Mighty Joe Young, Dr Cyclops and the atmosphere of the old poverty row cinema but in colour and with lots of singing and dancing. Shikari means big game hunter, and this is also the central theme of the movie: to catch King Kong!

A greedy circus owner decides to go to some faraway country (Singapore is mentioned, but I'm not sure that's where they're going) to catch King Kong. They actually use that name, until they're there and the natives instead calls the big ape for Ottangu. They meet up with their guide, a famous hunter with - as usual - a beautiful daughter, who lives in the jungle. They find a totally destroyed village and our heroes wants to get the police and doctors there, but the greedy circus owner shoots the messenger and wants to catch Ottangu first! Some scenes in the print is missing, but a while later they're discovering that the famous Dr Cyclops has a secret lab in the jungle. It's he who created the big ape and now he's - in the name of peace - continuing the experiments. He can shrink people, transform to gorillas or just throw them down in his snake pit! What will happen to the good part of the circus crew? Will they survive... or will the wrath of Ottangu punish them?!?!?!?

Shikari, who clocks in at 130 minutes, could be a considered a bit talky for an un-experienced viewer of Bollywood cinema, but the fact is that it doesn't feel boring at all. There's a lot of musical numbers, but they are easy on the eyes and never too long. The biggest charm is the shameless atmosphere of matinee. It's just a very unpretentious movie. The bad guys are bad and the good guys are good. The monsters are monsters and it has jungle, hut-destruction, a very uncalled for ice-skating number and all the men are a bit to chubby to action heroes. Just the way I want my Bollywood-adventure.

It's hard not to dig the fine combination between not less than three of Ernest B. Schoedsack's classics. The mad doctor in Shikari even calls himself Dr Cyclops. Shikari more feels like a homage to Ernest B. Schoedsack and Merian C. Cooper than a simple rip-off or a "Bollywood remake". Like Spielberg and Lucas did with the Indiana Jones franchise, this movie is rooted in the nostalgia of older American adventure movies.

King Kong, or Ottangu himself is a fun creature. One of the more creepier giant apes out there. Mostly because the actor inside the suit choose use a very spastic, weird, almost zombie/monster-style of moving around. There's not smooth movements here, and it just looks wicked! Like Ottangu is a fucked-up robot-ape! The bad thing is that there's only one destruction scenes, when Ottangu attacks a village in the end. This is well-made and looks cool, but it would have been nice with more ape-action. As a bonus, under Dr Cyclops lair, we also meet a very odd monster. It's some kind of mutant, played by a man in suit, who's gigantic and chained to the wall. Pity we didn't see him fight with Ottangu!

Shikari is a fun adventure-romp that entertained me. Don't be fooled by the monsterless cover, this is way more cool than you might think. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cool thanks...never heard of this before....have you seen Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) yet?

And what did you think of it..?