Color, 1974, 82m.
Directed by Memduh Un / Starring Serdar Gokhan, Emel Ozden, Melek Aybek, Reha Yurdakul, Oktar Durukan
Onar (Greece R0 PAL)
A wonderfully sleazy entry in the Turksih tradition of co-opting Hollywood hits for local comsumption, Cellat ("The Executioner") lifts the basic plot and social stance from Michael Winner's runaway hit, Death Wish, while giving it a distinctive flavor of its own. The story begins with architect Orhan Polat (Gokhan) vacationing with his wife, Filiz, and his sister Sevgi and her husband Jahit, where they sit around in the woods laughing uproariously about... well, nothing in particular. Orhan is a real softie who uses women's scarves to mend the broken bones of passing dogs, so you just know he'll get his pinko pacifist views upended by the end of the first reel. Back in Istanbul, crime is running rampant with girls being assaulted and murdered left and right. Of course this is all the handiwork of three wicked, pot-smoking thugs who sit around in the rocks outside of town mocking all the rich people and dreaming of all the ekmek they can eat. They even steal a poor old lady's cabbage and use it to play soccer in the street. Then the goons follow Filiz and Sevgi home from a day of shopping, break into the house by posing as postmen, and rape and brutalize both of them when there isn't enough money in their purses. Filiz dies afterwards in the hospital, while Sevgi is left a traumatized wreck who has to get shock treaments.
The police can find no clues, so Orhan does what any man would do in his situation: fill up a sock with heavy coins and beat the snot out of a hateful pimp who tries to rob him in the street. Then he decides to take shooting lessons from a guy who says things like "A gun is a man's ornament. Look, this is not a gun; it's a poem. Without them, I feel naked." That night Orhan goes out a shoots a creepy guy who's apparently trying to molest a little boy, then comes home and gets physically sick. At his wife's grave he explains, "I'll keep on killing. The more I cleanse society of vermin, the more I'll feel your revenge has been taken." Immediately afterward he guns down two muggers and goes to hang out at "Club Love Story" (which hilariously uses the paperback cover of Love Story as its sign) and unknowingly has a drink with his wife's killers, who stupidly give the dead woman's necklace to a hooker. Soon the cops are noticing that all these bullets come from the same gun, but that doesn't stop our hero from taking out the trash on a commuter train (a great standout scene). Wounded in a gunfight, he takes refuge in the hooker's home and discovers the means in which he can finally inflict some justice on those who directly hurt his loved ones.
Brisk, very violent and highly enjoyable, Cellat is easily one of the most essential titles in Onar Films' ongoing series of Turkish cult releases. Gokhan is obviously much younger than Charles Bronson and cuts an impressive figure here, more reminiscent in his physicality of great Italian cop film stars like Maurizio Merli and Fabio Testi. Not surprisingly, he found lots of work in tough guy roles including a few Dirty Harry knockoffs, of course. Incredibly, this film makes a good effort at outdoing its predecessor with a string of increasingly violent setpieces, including a jaw-dropping impromptu electrocution scene that must be seen to be believed and a painful final fight sequence combining bricks and a criminal's knuckles. The wrapup is a little abrupt (much more than the Bronson version), but by then you won't care at all.
Onar's disc claims to be from the last surviving film print, and it looks okay; the overall look is definitely on the soft side, but colors are punchy enough with decent fleshtones. Some outdoor scenes tend to bloom quite a bit, but given the rarity of the title, it's all just quibbling. As usual the Turkish dialogue is subtitled in both English and Greek. Among the extras, the coolest is easily "Turkish Vendetta," a blood-soaked new 25-minute featurette that's easily one of the most entertaining to date. Films like Destan look positively mouth-watering and absolutely must come out somedy. Gokay Gelgec hosts the proceedings, drawing distinctions between revenge and vigilante stories before a string of clips from titles like Buyuk Kin, Hamal, Insan Avcisi and many more. Great stuff. You also get bios and filmographies for Gorkhan and director Memduh Un, a photo and artwork gallery, a filmography of revenge movies, and the highly caffeinated original theatrical trailer for Cellat plus the creepy Kadin Dusmani and the swinging thriller Altin cocuk. The disc also comes with a fold-out poster for Cellat, perfect for scaring off anyone who tries to break into your house.