Monsoon-A-Day ‘The Sword And The Claw’ (1975)

Welcome to Monsoon-a-day.
Where I watch and review a movie a day. Or whenever I fucking feel like it.

Day 87

 

The American Genre Film Archive is a non-profit organization who’s mission statement is the preservation, conservation, and distribution of any and all genre films. They were founded in 2009 and since that time, they have amassed a collection of over 6,000 and have worked with everyone from Refn to Henenlotter to RZA to Paul Thomas Anderson.

In 2015, in collaboration with Something Weird Films (another obscure film distributor), they created their own film distribution company starting with the release of the 1971 film The Zodiac Killer. They went from distributing the film prints to various theaters to releasing some of them to home media and while the big guys over at Criterion won’t lose any sleep over the films released so far, AGFA are putting out films that would normally be lost forever.

These films are obviously not meant for the Saturday morning matinee crowd nor will the arthouse aficionados have any interest in them. These films cater to those of us that like to take risks. That aren’t afraid to sit through 80 minutes of garbage to get to the 10 minutes of awesome. These are the insane niche titles that only the brave or insane will seek out.

Which would have been a perfect segue into The Sword and The Claw, if it was, in fact, the craziest title they have released so far but the honor goes to Bat Pussy. The world’s first X-rated film parody, Bat Pussy is a Batman spoof but with a lot more tits and a lot less dick (it doesn’t star Val Kilmer.)

But unfortunately, I’m not here to review a porno. I’m here to talk about the insane Turkish action film The Sword and The Claw aka Lionman.

After a ridiculously convoluted beginning that involves a five minute war that ends with the king of Turkey conquering the Christians and forbidden love that ends in a baby and blackmail, yada yada yada baby raised by lions. There’s a lot of Tootsie you gotta through to get to the sweet delicious center of this pop, but the hard work is worth it.

A child is raised by lions. No explanation is given as to why the lions didn’t decide to eat him or why lion rearing would result in a super strong killing machine but the main character is raised by lions.

Cut to the last fifteen minutes and Lionman not only has “lion strength” and a taste for revenge but because of some kung fu treachery, no longer has the use of his hands. Based on context clues such as the title of the film or it’s poster, you should be able to deduce that he will get claws in replace of his newly destroyed hands and your keen sense of perception will not have lead you astray.

He does, indeed, get claw hands. Which you would assume would be the reason he’s called Lionman (besides the Mowgli-esque origin) but it’s actually because of a lion shaped birth mark that looks suspiciously like a temporary tattoo someone stuck on his shoulder. But I ain’t no expert or anything.

Now, if you’re anything like me, the minute you hear the words “film” “kid raised by lions” “revenge” “claw hands” all in the same sentence, you immediately hit the IMDB to learn more. Besides having a pretty decent viewer score and only having a handful reviews, the only bit of trivia I came across was the fact that it was directed by a man and his clone.

Which explains everything. In the film Multiplicity (which is a sorely underrated comedy that you should definitely check out), every time Michael Keaton clones himself, the clones come out a little differently. One is hyper masculine, one is overly sensitive and the other one is intellectually disabled.

Take a guess which two clones directed this film.

I’ll give you a hint: it ain’t the one obsessed with the Martha Stewart catalogue.

This film alternates between being the greatest Turkish action film of all time and an amazing parody of Turkish action films and I have no idea if the second part is intentional. A sure sign of a low budget, is if they re-use shots. Roger Corman does it all the time. This film will re-use the same shot four times in a row but then will cut to, what can only be a payoff to a set up you didn’t realize was happening.

Quick example: Lionman will jump into a pile of four guys, which will cause everyone to fall down dead, hard cut to the same exact shot which then will be repeated three more times. At first glance, it looks as though it’s just shoddy filmmaking designed to save a buck but then the fourth shot will be Lionman getting up from the fall and there’s 50 dead guys lying on the ground.

There’s no way that’s not intentional. This film perfectly skates that line between complete ineptitude (the score is literally a piece from the Soundtrack of Spartacus on an never ending loop) and absolute genius.

For most of you, this film will be trash but if you’re the right kind of raccoon, this is the sweetest of treasures.