DVD Review: Son of Kong

Hot off the success of, King Kong (Review), RKO Pictures with the team of producer Merian C. Cooper, director Ernest B. Schoedsack and writer Ruth Rose brought a sequel to the big screen….the same year of King Kong’s 1933 release! Now, fans of this classic sequel can enjoy the film on DVD for the first time, thanks to Warner Brothers.

In this sequel, Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) finds himself in hiding in New York City, because of the damage done by King Kong. Denham accepts an offer from Captain Englehorn (Frank Reicher) to sail for parts unknown, to escape the bill collectors. Arriving on a tropical island, Denham runs into Helstrom (John Marston), the man who originally told Denham about the legend of Kong. Denham is talked into going to search for the treasure and along with Helstrom, Denham takes Hilda (Helen Mack) along for the ride. Once the crew realizes the destination is Skull Island, they mutiny and toss, Denham, Englehorn and Hilda overboard and into a lifeboat, where the cook, Charlie (Victor Wong) willingly joins them. Helstrom is behind the mutiny, but tries to take over just a bit too quickly and soon the crew tosses him overboard to swim to the lifeboat and join the others.

It isn’t long before ‘little’ Kong is discovered by Denham and Hilda, sinking in quicksand. The duo save little Kong and in return for their kindness, little Kong does some saving of his own. More prehistoric beasts are encountered and little Kong proves to be a good friend to Denham and Hilda. The treasure is located, but in the midst of the good luck, an earthquake strikes the island and it’s now a battle to save their lives as the island begins to sink into the ocean.

Laced with a bit more humor, little Kong is given a very child-like innocence and it works for this film. Like most films of this time, good always seems to triumph over evil and all ends on a happy note…for most of the characters, but not all. At a running time of only about 70 minutes, this film moves along at a pretty decent clip, not much time to bog down, if you’re going to cram an entire film into just over an hour.

With Willis O’Brien once again providing the stop-motion animation, little Kong looks as good as King Kong, if not slightly better. In watching the bonus features on the King Kong disc, you discover that not all of the creatures originally made for the original film were used, so one or two had their spotlight in, Song of Kong.

I hadn’t seen this film since I was quite young and then caught it on TV a few years back. I was pleasantly surprised to see I still enjoy this film, in spite of a scene or two before the island that I find boring, but necessary for the story to develop. Warner Brothers have done a nice job in cleaning up this print, especially if you watch the theatrical trailer included on the disc. Sadly, there are no bonus features for the film other than the theatrical trailer, but then so much is covered on the two-disc King Kong, I’m not sure much could be added for this film…..I don’t know how much thought went into this film, given it was released the same year as the original King Kong.

Sure, this film is not on the same level as, King Kong, but if you fancy yourself a completeist or you enjoy those films that have a Saturday afternoon matinee feel to them, I’m sure you will find this an easy watch. Son of Kong can be purchased as a separate disc or as part of the King Kong Collection, which also includes the original 1933 film; King Kong (2-disc Special Edition) and the 1949 film; Mighty Joe Young (Review).

Buy the Son of Kong on DVD at Amazon.com

Buy the King Kong Collection on DVD at Amazon.com

Visit the official website for Peter Jackson’s King Kong


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