Aka - Cellat
Director: Memduh Un
Before I get into this review I just wanted to mention that I looked around
for other DVD releases of Turkish films from the 1960's/1970s and came upon
the Onar Film Distribution company that released this one as well as a dozen
others including a couple of the Kilink films, Iron Claw the Pirate, Tarzan
in Istanbul, Three Giant Men and a few crime films that look interesting.
Digging deeper though I discovered that the company went out of business
with the death of its owner about eight years ago and I can't find any of
these films on Amazon (Ebay may have a few at inflated prices). I am glad
I picked up a few when they were released. DVDs going out of print is a tragedy
to me and the growing popularity of streaming has just accelerated this trend.
I like physical and am not a streamer. Someday I may have no choice but so
many films are disappearing - older Hong Kong films which I am familiar with
are getting nearly impossible to find and the vast majority of them will
never get on to streaming platforms. I was saddened to read about this fellow
who ran Onar films - it was his pure passion for these older genre Turkish
films that drove him. If you read his Blog postings it was clearly a labor
of love and sales were never great. A belated RIP to Bill Barounis.
As were so many of these genre Turkish films of the period, this was heavily
influenced by a Western film. In this case Death Wish which had come out
the year before. I saw Death Wish probably 30 years ago and never followed
up on the sequels - but I recall the gist of it. A man's wife is murdered
and his daughter sexually molested and Charles Bronson goes on a righteous
path of vigilante killings of street criminals, not necessarily related to
the murder of his wife. It was a controversial film when it came out with
conservatives and liberals taking opposite sides of the vigilante issue -
and to a lesser degree this argument re-emerged when Bruce Willis did a remake
(which I never saw). Death Wish was made during a time when street crime
was a major fear for people and likely weaponized by politicians. I have
no idea if any of this was an issue in Turkey - it was in one of its democratic
phases as it went back and forth between military juntas and democracy in
the 1970's with a coup in 1971 and one later in 1980. If you watch
this film, it sure seems like street crime is an issue as our protagonist
has no problem finding scum to kill in the dark alleyways of Istanbul.
Orhan (Serdar Gökhan) returns from a vacation with his beautiful wife
Filiz, his cute sister Sevgi and her husband Jahit. He is a good fellow who
doesn't believe in violence and guns but learned to shoot from his father
who was a famous hunter. He is an architect. Three cretins - one who looks
just like a drugged up David Crosby (in other words David Crosby) - break
into his home while he is at work and rape his wife and sister - with the
wife dying and the sister going into a comatose trauma unable to speak or
react - or describe the marauders. Orhan patiently waits for the police to
find the men but they have no clues. On a business trip he meets a customer
who gives him a gun as a present with a speech directly from the NRA - guns
don't kill, people do and if it were not a gun it would be a rock or a knife.
Such great logic. Not a lot of mass killings with a rock since the days of
Fred Flintstone and as I always ask people who give this specious argument
- would you rather face a man with a gun or a rock.
Back in Istanbul with the police no further along Orhan decides it is time
for someone to clean up the streets. Him and his gun. And he is good at it.
He wanders the dark nights looking for targets - the first is a man about
to rape a child - afterwards he throws up but it gets easier - almost addictive.
The film is quite well done - the streets and clubs of the city suitably
sleazy and dangerous and his victims all deserving. Gökhan is excellent
in his role as a good man with a deadly mission. It is hard not to root for
him as we are of course meant to do.