Sunday, May 1, 2011

Ölüme Son Adim (1983)

aka Last Step to Death

aka Turkish Mad Max (as usual, there's not much Mad Max about the film, except for the way Arkin dresses in its second half and a bit of borrowed soundtrack)

Ultra hardcore mercenary Kaan/Kagan/Kahan (Cüneyt Arkin; my ears, the subtitles and movie databases aren't exactly of one mind when it comes to his character name), the kind of guy who carries an astonishing amount of large knives on his body at all times, is hired by some guy in a suit with a nervous tic to rescue a Professor who has found the cure for leukaemia from some unnamed and unexplained heavily armed evildoers holding him somewhere out in the country. Tic guy is willing to pay Kahan 100 million - who knows in what currency - for his efforts, so there's no reason for the mercenary not to take the offer.

Kahan doesn't think that this is the kind of job even he could manage alone, though, so he grabs his best friend Ali (Yildirim Gencer) - a specialist in tactics and sexual harassment - and his female friend Leyla (Emel Tümer) - a specialist in wearing clothes so skimpy she'd look less nude if she were naked, and kicking people in the face - to assist him in the case.

After some training against mechanical dolls that use live ammo, the trio's off to rescue the Professor. Fifty or so dead goons later, the Professor is in our heroes' hands. Surprisingly, he also comes with a girl who might be his daughter or his girlfriend (the film ain't tellin'), which delights Ali's grabby hands to no end.

Now it should be just a simple thing for the friends to deliver the rescued man to their client. Of course, they find themselves betrayed and will have to kill even more people to get to the end of the movie.

As it is a cooperation between Turkish exploitation god Cüneyt Arkin (of the chiselled chin, the steely gaze, the monkey-like gritted action scene teeth and the wild arm-flailing) and his favourite director mad, mad Cetin Inanc, Ölüme Son Adim is of course a film as crazy as a fever dream. Everything I've written about any film directed by Inanc still holds true here: the film's pacing is as hectic as toddler on a sugar binge, the editing as choppy and devoid of transitions as it can be, and half of the scenes are shot from the most improbable angles, preferably from below. Whenever I see one of Inanc's films I suspect one of the man's ambitions must have been to become an avantgarde director of the type who wouldn't even shoot the simplest of scenes straight, and when his path led him to exploitation filmmaking, he didn't see any reason to not shoot his exploitation films as he would have his dream avantgarde projects. Another possible explanation is of course that Inanc just didn't really know what he was doing, but because both theories lead to the same conclusion - namely that Inanc's films are inexplicably weird - I will probably never know.

Anyway (to fall into the tone the film takes for eighty minutes for a moment), what can you expect from this cinematic wonder!? Scenes shot from below a table! Crotch cam! Way-too-close-ups of faces (of course shot from below and slightly to the side! Shouting! Loud punching! Loud kicking! Loud (and very large) throwing knives! A loud bow! Arkin Fu! A grenade launcher gun! Horrible jokes! Two guys - who don't have secret sexual thing going on between them at all, no siree - permanently telling each other they are the worst friends ever and sharing cigarettes! Machine gun nests built from footage that is "borrowed" from some different (and very yellow-tinted) movie! Highly concentrated leering at Emel Tümer's ass and thighs (looks like former softcore and hardcore porn man Inanc compensated for the ban on nudity in Turkey at this point in time by fixating as much on Tümer's lower body half as possible, like Jess Franco exploring every hair of Lina Romay's nether regions, just dressed)!

Now that I think about it, Ölüme Son Adim is a lot like a Pakistani exploitation film, only without the musical numbers, the pointed fingers, the thunder claps; It's just much more condensed. This only goes to show that people want pretty much the same thing from their cheap and exciting films the world over, even if the actual expression of these wants is a little different from country to country. Humanity truly is a great and wonderful thing.


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