Three Mighty Men

Reviewed By Jay Seaver
Posted 08/04/06 09:48:01

"An astonishing work of copyright infringement."
3 stars (Just Average)

SCREENED AT THE 2006 FANTASIA FESTIVAL: For a long time, this movie was thought destroyed in a fire, and if I were the man investigating that, I would have checked to see if Stan Lee or Steve Ditko were anywhere near Turkey at the time. After all, it's bad enough that they just appropriated Captain America without asking, but you've got to think that making Spider-Man the villain of the piece would tick the folks at Marvel off that much more.

Okay, the villain is named "The Spider" and his costume features green instead of blue, but there's no mistaking who he's supposed to be. His plan is to sell stolen artifacts in the Western Hemisphere and then repurchase them with counterfeit cash. He's done it so much that it threatens to destabilize the world's economy, so when he runs to Turkey, three New World heroes follow him to form a special task force with the Turkish police: Captain America (Aytekin Akkaya), the United States's famous super-soldier; Santo (Yavuz Selekman), Mexico's greatest luchador; and Julia (Deniz Erkanat), a very pretty girl from Brazil.

The story, of course, is just an excuse to string together a few action scenes and stick colorful (and maybe recognizable; how popular were Marvel Comics in early 1970s Turkey?) images on the poster. It really doesn't make a lick of sense, and at times is almost contemptuous of the concepts behind it: When the man heading up the Turkish government's investigation asks Captain America why they wear colorful costumes, he snorts that Spider does because he has the mind of a psychotic child, though he himself does because it draws the insane man's attacks. And <I>his</I> is bullet-proof. The second half of the movie also suggests that there must be more than one Spider (though all have the same bushy eyebrows poking out of their costumes), but when a new one pops up immediately after the last one dies, the characters just seem to shrug it off as something that's to be expected, though they hadn't mentioned it. You'd think that if Spider was a criminal mastermind, the heroes would be interested in making sure that they captured the right one, rather than a goon dressed in the costume (or killed him; superheroes seem to have fewer qualms about using deadly force in Turkey than they do in America).

Still, that complete lack of interest in any type of logic has its upside. A writer who worried about such things while writing his script probably would not include a scene where Spider-Man kills an ally who had displeased him by tying him up and sending a vicious guinea pig down a tube to devour his face. It's a moment that is almost surreal in its bloody ridiculousness. The plot also seems to require Santo spend a lot of time in the gym, so that the ladies in the audience can admire his form as he works out. It's also fortunate that the national heroes of America, Mexico, and Brazil speak Turkish like natives.

It's also fortunate that almost every room where a fight breaks out (that is to say, everywhere these people go) seems to have something dangling from the ceiling that Captain America or Santo can swing from, delivering a two-footed kick to a bad guy's chest. It's cool the first time, but after a half-dozen or so you start to wonder what these things are and why they're there. The movie's action-packed, but the quality of the fist fights leaves something to be desired; they're definitely in the "big punches that send people skittering back" mode, and the punch actually connecting is not all that important.

Even with all the flaws, it's unfortunate that this movie is in such bad shape. I'm pretty sure that this was projected off a video source, and that was certainly not taken from particularly good elements. Sure, this is in no way a good movie, but it's at least noteworthy. Superhero fans might even say it's worthy of infamy (or might argue that it's the best Captain America movie ever made; not having seen the serials or the eighties version, I don't know). Certainly, it's no worse than the blaxploitation movies being made in America at the same time, and they very seldom had man-eating guinea pigs.

"3 Mighty Men" is a curiosity, but curiosities are worth seeing, even if the main benefit is to be able to describe the movie to others and enjoy their shock and disbelief.

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