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Film / King Kong Escapes

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King Kong Escapes (aka King Kong's Counterattack) is a 1967 film coproduced by Toho Co. Ltd and Rankin/Bass Productions. A loose adaptation of The King Kong Show cartoon series, it was the last time Toho was able to use the King Kong character. This film is notable for the King Kong suit not being in great shape and the introduction of Gorosaurus, who would go on to become a major character in Destroy All Monsters, where he helped Godzilla kill King Ghidorah. By the way, it's not a sequel to King Kong vs. Godzillanote  due to the different Kong suit and size scale used in this film.

On the payroll of an unknown Asian country, Evil Genius Dr. Who (no, not that Doctor Who) builds Mechani-Kong in order to harvest Element X, but the radioactivity shuts the robot down. Meanwhile, the submarine of Commander Carl Nelson is damaged, giving him, Lt. Commander Jiro Nomura, and Lt. Susan Watson the opportunity to investigate Mondo Island's legend of King Kong. Susan gets left behind and gets attacked by Gorosaurus. King Kong comes to her defense, and Susan and the others flee to the submarine. Susan manages to persuade Kong to let them leave, and this becomes worldwide news. Dr. Who and the other catch wind of this, deciding to kidnap Kong and later the trio in order to dig up Element X. Kong could withstand the radiation but couldn't be mind controlled, and he flees toward Tokyo. Susan and the others manage to escape Dr. Who, who sends Mechani-Kong after Kong. With Susan captured by Mechani-Kong, Kong is determined to rescue her in a battle on Tokyo Tower...

The film provides examples of

  • Badass Normal: Gorosaurus is this by kaiju standards. Aside from his Kangaroo kick, physical strength, jaws, and claws, he doesn't really have any flashy powers whatsoever but manages to put up a fairly decent fight against his simian nemesis.
  • Broad Strokes: Played with, the film's self-contained plot and minimal references to any other film in Toho's catalogue means that it is entirely possible to selectively regard King Kong Escapes as being a stand-alone film or as part of the studio's cinematic Kaijū universe.
    • King Kong had appeared years prior in King Kong vs. Godzilla, and the film's characters are already familiar with Kong in the film.
    • It having very little resemblance to The King Kong Show gives it the flexibility to be either an adaptation (albeit a very loose one), or a tie-in.
    • Gorosaurus featuring in Destroy All Monsters suggests the events of this film occurred in some capacity within the Showa-era Godzilla series.
    • The Kiryu Saga included a Japan-only book published by Toho during the release of the second film detailing a list of films from previous continuities as being canon to the duology, King Kong Escapes! being one of them.
  • Disney Death: Gorosaurus. He's apparently done for when Kong snaps his jaw and leaves him to die, with foam emanating from his maw as if to drive the point home. However, he later turns up seemingly alright in Destroy All Monsters.
  • Disney Villain Death: Mechani-Kong, and a rather brutal one at that when you think about it. He falls from the Tokyo Tower after the climatic fight and shatters upon impact.
  • Dumb Dinos: Gorosaurus is mostly portrayed as your average brutish Prehistoric Monster that wants to make a meal out of any unlucky human he comes across. Later films show he's not as dumb as he looks like, though.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: As the representative of her country, Madame X wanted Element X so her people could become a nuclear power like America and the USSR. She had little qualms with contacting a dubious group like Dr. Who's, nor of their less than legal methods. She puts her foot down when the heroes and later the ordinary citizens of Japan are endangered. There's the pragmatic side of not having her country cause an international incident, but she risks her life to stop Dr. Who's destructive ways.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Watching Hideyo Amamato as Dr. Who chew the scenery is half the fun of this film.
  • Excited Film Title!
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: For a nominally G rated film it can get quite gruesome. Kong breaks Gorosaurus' jaw, leaving him dying (or rather, just badly wounded, but still) with foam coming out of his mouth, Madame X is shot twice when she dies, twitching in agony with each bullet, Dr. Who is crushed with blood gushing from his mouth at the climax, and Mechani-Kong is broken into pieces when it falls from Tokyo Tower.
  • The Great Serpent: Kong defends the human protagonists from a giant sea snake as they're trying to leave Mondo Island.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Madame X, who dies destroying the controls for Mechani-Kong.
  • High-Heel–Face Turn: Madame X, who seemed keen on pampering the heroes into cooperation and found endangering ordinary citizens abhorrent. She was also the only visible woman antagonist in the entire film.
  • Humongous Mecha: Mechani-Kong.
  • Jawbreaker: Kong defeats Gorosaurus by breaking his jaw.
  • Mind-Control Device: Used on King Kong in order for him to dig for Element X, and was later attached to Mechani-Kong at the film's climax.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Never threaten Susan in front of Kong... EVER.
  • Phlebotinum-Proof Robot: The Big Bad Mad Scientist Dr. Wu created Robo-Kong because as a robot it would not be affected by the radiation of Element X, which would kill a man. However, the radiation screws up with Robo-Kong's electronic brain and makes it impossible to command it by remote control. The result: the mad Doctor decides to poach the only living being on Earth that would be able to manipulate the Element without dying and brainwash it into obeying him — that being, of course, is King Kong.
  • Race Lift: Dr. Who goes from heavily implied to be German, and an escaped Nazi researcher supposedly, to Asian.
  • Ship Tease: Jiro and Susan are hinted to have a bit of a romance going on. Jiro is the one whose ready to save her when she's in danger.
  • Too Dumb to Live: With Mechani-Kong destroyed and Kong and the main characters in hot pursuit, Doctor Who frantically orders his henchmen to start their their boat and get going. Instead they all, to a man, stand around, with the lead henchman saying: "But you said we'd stay here 'til we got Kong and the girl!". It takes the furious Who screaming at his men to get them moving, and by then it's too late to escape Kong's wrath.
  • T. Rexpy: Gorosaurus serves a role largely similar to the Tyrannosaurus from the 1933 film, trying to devour a woman whom the mighty primate has a liking for and battling against the eponymous ape until he's beaten by having his jaw snapped by Kong. However, Goro's actually a descendant of carnosaurs such as Allosaurus according to supplementary materials.
  • Villainesses Want Heroes: Madame X has Commander Nelson brought into her apartments, offers him wine and mildly flirts with him while in a nice dress.
  • Yellow Peril: If this film hadn't been made in Japan, Dr. Who would be a textbook Yellow Peril villain. Since everyone (except Nelson and Susan) in the movie is Asian, however, he ends up being just regular peril.