Karamurat Seyh Gaffara Karsi

Country: Turkey / Italy
Director: Natuk Baytan, Ernst Hofbauer (Herb Al Baurr)
Starring: Cüneyt (George) Arkin, Daniela Giordano, Pasquale Basile
Music: Piero Picconi

Karamurat Seyh Gaffara Karsi, a Turkish Italian co production, is an Arabian Nights style swashbuckler with a healthy dose of Kung-Fu thrown in for good measure. It starts with Mamaluth, a Khan in a Middle Eastern country, sending four envoys to one of his provinces.

It seems the ruler of this province, Mustapha, is a tyrant who is getting too big for his boots. He refuses to pay the Khan the provincial taxes, choosing to keep them for himself. And furthermore, despite his tyrannical ways, Mustapha’s subjects show a fanatical loyalty to him. The envoys arrive at Mustapha’s court and witness firsthand the power that Mustapha has over his subjects. His subjects are willing to commit suicide or even sacrifice their own children. After the display, Mustapha throws three of the envoys into the dungeons, leaving the other to return to Mamaluth with the bad news that Mustapha no longer considers himself under the Khan’s rule.

The king then chooses his finest warrior to go alone to Mustapha’s province and sort out he problems. This warrior’s name is Karamurat and he is played by Cuneyt (George) Arkin. His name may not be familiar to Western audiences, but in his heyday, he was a superstar in Turkey. As Karamurat, he talks tough: “How would you like me to tear out your moustache!” And he acts tough: in one scene after a brawl, a villain tries to escape on horseback. Rather than fire an arrow, he picks up a battered and bruised minion and throws him at the escaping rider.

During his quest, Kuramurat has run-ins, not only with Mustapha’s guards (which there are plenty to beat up on), but also with Ali Baba and his Forty Thieves and a trio of Kung-Fu fighting Chinese dope merchants.

However, Karamurat’s greatest challenge is to overcome is the wicked charms of Selema, Mustapha’s favourite concubine. It’s her propensity to take off her clothes that stop this from being a kids’ film, which is a shame (not that I mind seeing her dancing around topless), but the story is in the style of a ‘boys own adventure’. Unfortunately little boys can’t watch it due to her quasi – psychedelic/erotic dance routines.

Ultimately, Karamurat Seyh Gaffara Karsi is a fairly innocuous time waster. For me, the enjoyment came from seeing how the Turks handle this kind of subject matter. It’s not that different from Hollywood, but with the addition of Kung Fu, and I’d guess this addition has more to do with the success of Bruce Lee and his successors, than a movement in the Turkish film industry.

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