Hilda: Did you ever catch a monkey?
Denham: Did I ever..? (laughs) Lady, you'd be surprised.
The Son of Kong is the 1933 sequel to the classic monster movie King Kong (1933). Directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack, the film was rushed into production immediately following the success of the first film and hit theaters a mere nine months later. Robert Armstrong reprises his role as Carl Denham alongside Frank Reicher and Victor Wong reappearing as Captain Englehorn and Charlie respectively.
A month after Kong's rampage through New York, Carl Denham is now bankrupt following the countless lawsuits to pay for the collateral damage. To avoid being indicted, Denham flees with Englehorn to the East Indies to make a living hauling cargo. During a stop at the island of Dakang he meets a struggling entertainer named Hilda Petersen, and also finds there Captain Nihls Helstrom, the man who sold him the original map to Skull Island. Helstrom convinces Denham to return to the island by claiming it contains a great treasure, but this is all a ploy to leave Dakang before he's arrested for the murder of Hilda's father. After a mutiny that strands all parties involved on the island, Denham and Hilda run into an albino member of Kong's species, which Denham believes might be Kong's surviving son.
Special effects pioneer Willis O'Brien returned to provide the stop-motion visual for Little Kong and the creature of Skull Island, recycling assets from the first film to save on time and money.
Tropes in The Son of Kong include:
- Accidental Truth: Helstrom lies about there being a treasure on Skull Island, but when the group returns to the island, they find that there actually is a treasure.
- Affectionate Nickname: Carl almost immediately starts referring to Kong's son as Little Kong.
- All There in the Manual: Little Kong is named 'Kiko' in the script, being a portmanteau of his father's name King Kong, despite never actually being called this in the movie.
- Hilda is never actually called by her name in the entire film. She performs her cabaret act as "La Belle Helene", so you'd be forgiven for thinking that's her name.
- Ascended Extra: In the first movie, Denham mentions getting the map to Kong's island from the skipper of a Norwegian barque. This time around, that skipper - Helstrom - is a major character. Denham, Englehorn, and Charlie are also given more central roles than they had in the first film.
- Asian Cleaver Fever: Charlie has a big butcher knife on hand during the scenes on the island. He doesn't do anything particularly fancy with it, though, so this may be more because he's a cook and then needed whatever he had on hand to bring as a weapon than because he's Chinese.
- Back for the Dead: The brontosaurus from the first movie is seen during the Cataclysm Climax, trying not to drown.
- Bears Are Bad News: One of the new threats on Skull Island is an enormous and aggressive cave bear which is even bigger than Little Kong.
- Because You Were Nice to Me / Androcles' Lion: Little Kong helps out the humans because they rescue him from quicksand and later help bandage him up after a bad fight, Carl apologizing for taking his father away as he does so.
- Behemoth Battle: Just like the original film, Kong's son battles some of Skull Island's vicious beasts, in this case a "Dragon" (that looks like a Nothosaurus) and a Cave Bear.
- Big Bad: Captain Helstrom, who endangers the group by tricking them into returning to Skull Island and then tries to leave them all to die to save himself.
- Bittersweet Ending: Skull Island sinks beneath the sea, taking the friendly Little Kong with it, but Denham, Englehorn, Charlie, and Hilda are able to escape and have a huge gemstone that will make them rich while remembering the brave sacrifice of their friend.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: After defeating the Dragon, Little Kong looks right at the camera and shrugs while making a sheepish expression.
- Call-Back: While battling the Dragon, it tries to strangle Kiko with its tail. And after defeating it, Kiko forces open its jaws (though without killing it) before dropping its barely conscious head.
- Cataclysm Climax: The film's climax involves Skull Island sinking into the seas, taking all of its lifeforms (Little Kong included) down with it. Denham and Hilda just barely make it out with the treasure.
- Character Development: As he's now the front-and-center protagonist, Carl Denham gets a lot of it, as he faces the consequences of his actions of bringing Kong to the mainland as well as the guilt of getting him killed once he finds Little Kong.
- Chew Toy: Everything had gone downhill on Helstrom in the time since Denham last encountered him, and his own actions continually makes everything worse for him until he gets literally chewed up and eaten.
- Comically Missing the Point: Carl tells Englehorn that there's a Little Kong. When asked how little, he glibly replies he's only about twelve feet tall.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Despite the battle with the Nothosaurus (or whatever it's supposed to be) being one of the movie's most iconic visuals, the creature doesn't stand a chance, and Kiko wins handily.
- Developing Doomed Characters: Little Kong gets about 13 minutes of screentime and ultimately dies sacrificing himself to save Denham in the climax.
- Diabolus ex Machina: In the last five minutes, Skull Island suddenly and unexpectedly starts to sink shortly after Denham and the others land on it, killing all lifeforms on the island, with Kiko being the last to die as he sacrifices himself to save Denham from drowning.
- Ethnic Menial Labor: Charlie (credited simply as "Chinese Cook") returns from the first movie. Despite his comedically weak grasp of the English language and the stereotypical Regional Riff that accompanies him, he's shown once again to be a fairly smart, brave guy, and is unwaveringly loyal to Denham during the mutiny. He's also played by actual Chinese-American actor Victor Wong (not the Victor Wong who was in Big Trouble in Little China), rather than a white actor in yellowface. So while his portrayal is definitely pretty dated, it could have been a lot worse in 1933.
- Exit, Pursued by a Bear: During the Cataclysm Climax, Helstrom is the first to get to the boat, and is about to paddle off in it, leaving the rest to certain death... when an Elasmosaurus surfaces from the water and eats him.
- Friend on the Force: In a way. Mickey the process server is so happy with all the business Denham's gotten him in the wake of Kong's rampage that he helps him avoid other servers and tips him off about a future Grand Jury indictment in plenty of time for Denham to make tracks.
- Gentle Giant: In a stark contrast to all the other lifeforms on Skull Island including King Kong himself, Kiko is a gentle, calm and helpful ape who deliberately saves Denham and Hilda from various dangers after they saved him from quicksand.
- Hate Sink: Captain Helstrom proves himself as this. He kills Hilda's father and tries to get the group killed to save his own skin, acting as the human antagonist of the film since Kiko is much friendlier than his father, befriending the heroic group right off the bat leaving Helstrom as the sole main antagonist/threat.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Little Kong and Carl make their way to the top of the mountain. As the water rises, Kong holds him up out of the water until he can be rescued, but the rowboat is far too small to take Little Kong with them and his foot is caught in a crevice preventing him from even trying to swim, so he's pulled under and drowns instead.
- Karma Houdini Warranty: That film opens with Carl having to flee New York ahead of a series of lawsuits and a grand jury indictment stemming from Kong's rampage through the city.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Helstrom is abruptly killed off at the end when he tries to leave the rest to die by escaping on the boat by himself, only to run afoul of a vicious plesiosaur.
- Lighter and Softer: The film's tone is far more lighthearted and comedic compared to the original film's, it helps that Kiko is a benevolent ape that helps Denham and Hilda get through the horrors of Skull Island more easily. Screenwriter Ruth Rose figured that, with the time and budget they had, it would be impossible to one-up the original, so she decided they could at least try to make it funnier.
- The Magic Goes Away: The entire island, and every amazing creature on it, is drowned during the Cataclysm Climax.
- Prehistoric Monster: Aside from Kiko, just about every big animal on the island wants nothing more than to snack on our heroes.
- Primate Versus Reptile: Kiko fights a Dragon in the treasure cave that attempts to attack Denham and Hilda, ultimately defeating it.
- Quicksand Sucks: Denham finds Kiko sinking into quicksand and chooses to rescue the ape by pushing a log in to let him climb out with. Kiko takes a shine to him after that.
- Ruins for Ruins' Sake: The ruined temple where Denham finds the treasure. There's a big scary idol in the centre that looks vaguely Aztec, but no real clues as to who built it.
- Silly Simian: The title character is a lot more comedically-portrayed than his dad was. There's also a very long scene early on of a group of monkeys who have been trained to play in a band as a piece of cabaret entertainment in the port town of Dakang.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: After Kong's rampage through the city, rather than having Hero Insurance, Carl is shown to be dead-broke with many lawsuits still on his hands. It doesn’t help in the slightest that the film takes place during the Great Depression. And since his actions also caused Kong to rampage on the natives, they're now hostile to Denham's group with the chief himself coming forward to Denham about it.
- Take That!: Denham once quips about the gathered crew, "We must be in Russia... here comes the committee of the workers," and the troublemaker crewman named "Red" soon leads the mutiny and spouts off Marxist-style taunts and hostilities.
- Temper-Ceratops: Continuing the tradition of a herbivorous dinosaur being a human-hating monster, the crew are menaced by a rampaging Styracosaurus.
- You Killed My Father: Or rather "He killed my father", as Hilda says of Helstrom. Carl inverts it on himself when apologizing to Kiko for his role in Kong Senior's demise.