Tarkan versus the Vikings

Director:  Mehmet Aslan
Year:  1971
Rating: 7.0

Country: Turkey

Aka - Tarkan and the Blood of the Vikings

If you thought John Wick took the murder of his dog to extreme lengths, he has nothing on the Turkish Hun, Tarkan! Wick takes out a gang, Tarkan seemingly takes out most of the Viking nation because they kill his wolf hound. Don't kill people's pets is a good lesson to take to heart. Tarkan probably had a better reason admittedly - he was orphaned at a young age and brought up by a wolf pack - hmmm - Tarkan and Tarzan - so his wolf hounds are family. This backstory isn't explained in this film but was in a previous film. There were seven Tarkan films with Kartal Tibet starring in five of them. They were based on a comic strip begun in 1967 by Sezgin Burak, who was Turkey's premier comic artist. This is wonderful in a trashy way with enough peynir (Turkish for cheese) to sink a battleship. It is 90 minutes of zany kooky fun and action with lopped heads, nudity, a giant man (and lady) killing octopus, a wild Viking orgy and so much more. Those Vikings knew how to party!

In the late 1960s into the 1970s some Turkish films took a sharp detour out of the mainstream into what has been termed Turksploitation. Taking their cue from Euro-trash and American pop films, they churned out violent action films, super hero films, sex films, spy films and in this case something very much like a Peplum film. They didn't worry too much about things like copyrights and did their own versions of Rambo, Death Wish, Star Wars, Star Trek, The Exorcist, Superman, Captain America and so I hear the Wizard of Oz. They also "borrowed" music from many films. Not a lot of these films are available with subtitles. American distributors have only picked up a handful to release - this being one. I think a lot of them may have been lost as well or are in very poor condition.

Perhaps the biggest action star was Cüneyt Arkin, who the Mondo Macabre documentary Turkish Pop Cinema interviews and shows some of his amazing clips. Quite a few of his films are up on YouTube but without subtitles. Realizing how conservative Turkey is these days it is rather shocking to see all the nudity and violence of these films but those were different days when Turkey was more secular than it is now. If there are other films as cool as this one, it is a shame more of them are not available. Just start with the other Tarkan films.

Tarkan (Kartal Tibet) is Attila the Hun's most fierce warrior and his job is to protect the Khan's daughter, Yonca (Fatima Belgen) but when the dastardly Vikings launch a sneak attack on an undermanned Hun fort Tarkan goes down with two arrows in him, one of his two dogs is killed and the princess is kidnapped. At the behest of the daughter of the Chinese Emperor who wants her as his hostage. His emissary is Lotus (Seher Seniz) who likes knocking out men after having sex with them and as we witness later has quite the upright charms under her attire. Talk about defying gravity.

Tarkan recovers quickly - it's only two arrows in his back - and with his remaining dog named Kurt (Turkish for wolf) who often seems smarter than Tarkan goes looking for revenge and as a secondary reason to save the princess - but revenging his wolf hound seems to be his main preoccupation. He manages to walk, row a small boat and swim all the way to Viking Land wherever that is supposed to be. Geography is not a strong point in this film. A lot of people get killed on the way of course and many more to come. Once he gets there he teams up with some Viking Amazons who also want revenge. They are led by Ursula, not a woman you would want to make the mistake of flirting with in a dark bar.

She is played by Swedish actress Eve Bender, who is in two other Tarkan films but as a different character. A couple of her other Turkish films were Thirsty for Love, Sex and Murder and I Lost My Heart to a Turk. Kartal was a big star in Turkish films even outside Tarkan and became a well-known director as well. This was one of those DVDs I picked up years ago and just never got to it - glad I finally did and hope to see a few others from that era as well.