I don’t care if you’ve made it through the collective worlds of Willie Milan, the Shaw Brothers, Godfrey Ho, Takeshi Miike and any number of film directors and creators and think you’ve seen it all. You’ve seen absolutely nothing because none of these creators would be able to create a movie quite like the absolutely demented world that Cüneyt Arkin has crafted. Trust me, over the next week, we’re going to share so many of his films, but it feels best to start here with 1984’s Death Warrior.
Think Godfrey Ho is transgressive because he mashes together two films at the same time? Cüneyt Arkin laughs as he makes every movie he has ever seen all at once, like those insane kids that didn’t understand that you can’t play with G.I. Joe, He-Man and your wrestling figures all at the same time because they’re all different sizes, but grown up and with a camera and a team of stunt people ready to die just to get all this lunacy committed to film.
This is why I love movies.
Beyond writing and co-directing this movie with Cetin Inanc, Cüneyt plays Murat, who is the Death Warrior. Years ago, he learned the ways of the ninja in Korea, after the war, and saved one of his sword brothers, who holds a grudge that this gaijin saved him so he’s spent the last few decades creating a gang of other ninjas who are destroying Italy. So the Italian cops decide to bring in Murat and unleash him on his one-time friend.
This plot sounds simple, but instead of delivering this Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow story to you straight, Cüneyt has created a film that mixes the neckbreaking zooms of Fulci, the nightmarish landscapes of Argento, the non-stop brawls of the Hong Kong films and the psychobabble of a 1960’s drug film and overfills 65 minutes of time with way too many ideas, like Jack Kirby when he was unleashed upon the Fourth World after a decade of pretty much making everything that made everyone say “Make Mine Marvel.”
Even crazier is that most of the footage in this film was originally used in 1982’s Arkin and Inanc joint Son Savasci (Last Warrior) but in a more linear fashion. Man, I didn’t know that they knew the Dada cut-and-paste technique in Turkey, but at the rate these guys were cranking out movies, I’m not surprised by anything, like how much of this rips off The Enforcer. These guys were making a hundred movies a year. I would have seen every one.
This is a movie that somehow has cars blasting through brick walls, ninjas who can use playing cards as weapons as if they were written by Frank Miller and trained by Ricky Jay, ninjas that are also zombies, evil plants, wizards, women that turn into frog creatures, a melty faced beast that is part vulture and a climax that offers a fight between Death Warrior and ninjas that is literally one third of this movies entire running time.
A normal person would think, “Is this too much?” Arkin and Inanc decided to throw in a bad guy who wipes out his own people just to show how twisted and powerful he is (by the way, in my dreams, he is in a support group with Maizon, the one-eyed cyborg werewolf from Mad Warrior, Velvet Von Ragner from Never Too Young to Die and Alby the Cruel from Nine Deaths of the Ninja and Tarzan from Intrepidos Punks), music stolen from Psycho and that aforementioned last final battle scored with the disco version of the Jaws theme.
The editing in this film is exhausting. You may never be able to watch another movie after this because it’s going to destroy your sense of pacing, your attention span and your understanding of how a speedball works.
Just stop reading all these words and watch this on YouTube and please write back to me and tell me just how much you loved this. My absolute highest recommendation.