King Kong Escapes is the second Toho produced Monster mash movie to feature the character King Kong although its supposedly not a sequel to King Kong Vs. Godzilla but it more or less acts as one. It’s also loosely a remake of the classic American Kong movie. It features the terrific team of director Ishiro Honda and special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. (You really should get used to reading that sentence in these reviews for a while). Its notable to say that it’s one of the only American co-production movies to come out of Toho and it stars Americans actors Rhodes Reason and Linda Miller alongside Japanese actors Eisei Amamoto and Akira Takarada who starred in the original Godzilla.
The film opens on the villainous evil genius Dr. Hu (Eisei Amamoto) finishing production on a giant mechanic ape dubbed Mechani-Kong. He plans on using Mechani-Kong to mine for a dangerous substance “element X” but the power of it damages the robot. Meanwhile a U.N submarine is making its rounds when the captain decides to investigate an ancient legend of King Kong on Mondo Island. While exploring Susan (Linda Miller) is attacked by Gorosaurus (featured in several other future Godzilla films as well). Gorosaurus is basically a giant T-Rex, but before he gets too close King Kong emerges and becomes fascinated by Susan. Kong sees her in danger and attacks setting off our first fight of the film. This fight is really cool and features a great homage to the original Kong movie in its final moments.
Upon hearing of a real King Kong Dr.Hu mobilizes his forces and kidnaps Kong bringing him back to his frozen fortress to, and I am not even kidding here, Hypnotize him into mining for element x. The rest of the movie revolves around the United Nations team and their attempts to save Kong and of course Kong escapes on his own. Eventually the two forces race to catch Kong leading to ridicules amounts of ridicules across Japan. The plot walks the line of being laughably dumb but is being extremely enjoyable for what it is.
King Kong Escapes doesn’t excel in plot but in characters and monster effects it matches some of the best Toho films. There are plenty of interesting monsters and sets to keep us entertained. The ice fortress of Dr. Hu and the island of Mondo both look great and the miniature effects are very appealing. It features Mechani-Kong, King Kong, Gorosaurus, and a giant sea serpent, Kong still looks bad and there’s even a scene where you can see the costume beginning to fall off. Mechani-Kong actually looks really good and when the two Kong’s fight it’s a pretty good spectacle. The other two monster brawls are there pretty much as filler but I don’t complain when filler involves giant monster fights. Ishiro Honda’s directing influence is also a plus and even when we are just focused on the characters it’s still interesting. Dr. Hu is awesome Eisei Amamoto plays the part like it’s the last thing he’s ever going to do and he loves every minute of it. He walks around in a Dracula cape manipulating his enemies and controlling the robot. Overall King Kong Escapes is a dumb but extremely entertaining flick and a good entry from Toho. If you can catch this movie I say do it. It doesn’t hold the meaning of life or anything but it’s a fun experience. Do what I did… grab some friends, some pizza, some beer and have some laughs.
Best scene of destruction: Mechani-Kong and King Kong duke it out on Tokyo Tower.