Son of Kong (1933)
By: Devon B. on October 26, 2008  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Warner Brothers (USA). Region 1, NTSC. 1.33:1 English 1.0 mono. 69 minutes
The Movie
Director: Ernest B. Schoedsack
Starring: Robert Armstrong, Helen Mack, Frank Reicher, John Marston, Victor Wong, Lee Kohlmar, Ed Brady
Screenplay: Ruth Rose
Country: USA
External Links
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Proving that even back in the 30s audiences weren't safe from quickie cash-in sequels, Son of Kong was actually released the same year as King Kong. While it's nowhere near in the same league as its predecessor, Son of Kong does at least have some moments of monster goodness.

Carl Denham is back, a broken man. He's realised the error of his ways in taking Kong from Skull Island, or maybe he actually just regrets all the lawsuits he's been receiving after Kong's rampage. Once he learns he's going to be indicted, Carl heads out of town with Captain Englehorn, who took him to Skull Island last time around. Travelling around, working on Englehorn's boat, Denham runs into the guy that gave him the map to Skull Island in the first place. This shady character steers Denham and company back towards Skull Island in search of a treasure there. One of the first things Denham finds once he finally gets there is that Kong had a son, a playful white gorilla who takes after his father in terms of kicking other monsters' asses.

Don't go into Son of Kong expecting wall to wall action. If you thought they took a long time to get to the island in King Kong, you'll be stomping the floor in boredom here. It may technically be less screen time, but it's well over halfway before they reach the island. Son is a bit more cartoony than its predecessor, from Denham's bizarre bucket head escape disguise to the behaviour of the younger gorilla.

While anyone who doesn't like King Kong is clearly a turd, my fondness for the sequel may be partially due to sentimentality. However, once we get to the island, Willis O'Brien livens things up a great deal and should save the picture for anyone who is still awake. Whereas the character of Kong Sr was loved by the audience because Willis was a genius, here the gorilla has clearly been directed to play to the audience. This ape is used for overtly humorous effect, including being the butt of a joke I've always found rather amusing. While some of the humans' acting is really bad, Kong Jr is always good, especially when he takes on a giant bear. It's not up to the T-Rex fight in the original, but then, what is? Li'l Kong only gets a few minutes screen time, but that's plenty of time to grow to love the ape, so the ending of the film is nothing short of tragic. It makes the ending of King Kong look like something from a Disney family comedy.

Kong Jr is an albino gorilla, and this may have ultimately been a mistake. He is always seen to be a force for good, whereas his black daddy was a bit of a destructive element, and this may have been what started getting people confused that the movies had something to say about race, when really they're just about some awesome, big gorillas.
Son of Kong is presented at 1.33:1, slightly matted from it's original 1.37:1 aspect ratio. The film is older than John Howard, and far better looking, too. There're still spots, grain, dirt and more dirt, but it looks good considering. The image does fuzz out a bit at times, usually at scene transitions.
Original mono. As with King Kong's transfer, I can't complain about the original audio being used. This track's a bit quiet at times, but is fine.
Extra Features
Son of Kong does not get the lavish treatment of its predecessor, which I guess is to be expected, but surely there's got to be some stuff worth including? All we get is the trailer, which is interesting in that it wisely focuses on Skull Island, but a mini doco could've been put together. Or maybe everyone was just still too saddened by the ending to talk about it.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
If you don't need the extreme bells and whistles of the super deluxe King Kong, you can get both Kongs and the best lion versus gorilla movie ever, Mighty Joe Young, in a nice little set that doesn't cost too much. In other words, don't be fuckin' retarded, there's no reason not to own all this sweetness. While Son of Kong is nowhere near the original film on any level, everyone should check it out because Jr is so damn endearing. If the first 40 or so minutes had been as good as the last 20, we'd have another masterpiece. Oh, well…

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