Karate Girl (1974)

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“Definitely not to be confused with the Rina Takeda film of the same name.”

This movie acquired some notoriety last year when a clip of a villain’s death went viral as “Worst death scene ever”, even though it had been edited and had extra audio added for “humourous” effect. Certainly, there’s plenty to mock in this 1974 Turkish revenge flick, which plays like someone heard second-hand descriptions of Thriller: A Cruel Picture and decided the world needed a PG remake. However, while aspects of the execution are without a question shoddy and laughable, it has an interesting story, briskly told, and with a good central character.

That heroine is Zeynep (Akin), a mute flower-seller who roams the streets of Istanbul with an apparently endless selection of cue cards through which she converses with customers. Her happy life is disrupted when five escaped convicts invade the home where she lives with her father, killing him and pawing her about, before stealing the money they have saved for a medical operation to return her speech. However, the trauma apparently had the same effect, Zeynep now being able to talk. She vows to track down those responsible and make them pay, with the help of a convenient passing transient, Murat (Hun, who’d go on to become an member of the Turkish parliament), who happens to be well skilled in shooting and martial arts, for reasons that do actually make sense eventually. Zeynap ends up joining the local police force to further her mission, which climaxes on a roof-top where the last member takes a baby hostage.

Apparently unreleased in the US or UK, this is available from the usual dubious sources, most commonly on a print dubbed into English, with French credits and Greek subtitles. Oddly, this adds to the whole package, which succeeds in being more entertaining than you’d expect, in a way best described as “barking mad.” Akin, who was one of the leading lights of Turkish cinema in the sixties and seventies, gives it her all, and certainly has the screen presence to pull it off, even allowing for some of the worst stunt doubling in cinema history – the wig used by her double is a completely different colour. The film manages to be both chaste and sleazy at the same time, with the latter best represented by the bad guys’ facial hair. No-one will ever mistake this for any kind of classic. However, I’ve been less entertained by many movies, and it’s enjoyable enough, for various reasons, that I found it relatively easy to overlook the undeniable flaws.

Dir: Orhan Aksoy
Star: Filiz Akin, Ediz Hun

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