I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

3 Dev Adam

tn_3devadamSo Captain America was in WWII in THE FIRST AVENGER, he’ll be revived in 2012 in THE AVENGERS, but what did he do in between? And specifically I’m talking about in the ’70s?

If your answer is “he was frozen in Antarctica or whatever” you’re wrong. Actually him and his Mexican wrestling associate El Santo went to Turkey to try to stop Spider-man and his girlfriend’s string of murders, counterfeiting and antiquities fraud – an out of control “doing whatever a spider can” spree. It’s a little known chapter in Marvel Comics history that fuckin Nick Fury and all those guys don’t want you to know about. But you deserve to know the truth, and that’s why I’m telling you about the 1973 Turkish film 3 DEV ADAM (or THREE MIGHTY MEN).

mp_3devadamThe Spider-man of the ’70s is very different from the one you remember from the other movies. I don’t know if this is the Tobey Maguire Spider-man when he’s older, or the Andrew Garfield. I don’t know if this is the after effects of the evil jazz dance from part 3, or if he just gets bitter as he gets older and spends more time overseas. All I know is that in the opening scene he’s on a beach and he has his henchmen stick a woman’s face into a boat motor like that guy at the end of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. He’s skinnier than we’ve ever seen him and he wears normal pants with a belt to hold them up (skull belt buckle) and his eyebrows have gotten so long they stick out of the eyeholes on his mask like a cat’s whiskers. He does not use webs anymore and he does climb up the side of a house once and in some rafters another time, but not in ways that only a man bitten by a radioactive spider could. He’s in bad shape mentally, physically and super-powerly, but people must still like him, because they just call him “Spider” for short. Like he’s their bud.

He’s not their bud.

That’s why the Turkish authorities gotta call in Captain America, El Santo and some lady to put a stop to it. He meets them at the airport to make sure they’re able to get through customs, but they don’t have as much trouble as I assumed they would because they show up unmasked. This is bullshit, because El Santo would never take off his mask in public. Everybody knows that he wears a suit, tie and mask even when he goes grocery shopping or walking his dog. I don’t know how they think they can get away with calling this guy El Santo. I mean I can accept every other aspect of this movie but having El Santo show his face is just too much, this is ridiculous.

They’re out of costume for alot of the movie, which kind of makes it harder to keep track of who’s who. But they wear the costumes whenever they chase after Spider-man.

“Why are you putting on masks and outfits during duty?” the Turkish guy asks.

“Spider is a child minded lunatic,” Captain America explains. “He always wears a mask. When he sees someone else wearing a mask he wants to destroy them. My special outfit is bullet proof.”

“I see.”

Yeah, sure Cap. You don’t normally like wearing that costume. You’re only doing it because Spider-man is so immature. Real strong argument there, pal.

Their Turkish contact explains that “the Spider” is in town supposedly for a fashion show (a bunch of models in a living room together taking turns walking in the middle and turning around) but really it’s a cover for a plot where he’s selling antiques to rich people and then buying them back using counterfeit money. I don’t think he mentions the more important fact that he’s going around spying on women or couples in the shower and then strangling them. That seems like the more significant crime in my opinion.

Spider-man is actually a real pervert and psychopath. He has one consensual sex scene and even that one cuts away to random reaction shots of creepy puppets. He tortures one of his own men by sticking his face up to a pipe and sending starved mice through. At least he calls them mice in the subtitles, but they’re portrayed by guinea pigs. Deadly, face-eating guinea pigs.

So Spidey’s not really relying on his powers anymore, but neither is Captain America. It takes both him and El Santo to lift up the back of a car in one part, that doesn’t sound like a super soldier to me. On the other hand there’s a part where he pulls a classic Jason Voorhees move, busting his hands through a wall to strangle a guy. That part did make me proud to be an American.

Like Spidey, Cap looks awfully skinny these days, but he’s pretty energetic. The fight scenes are goofy but actually kind of impressive with the amount of scrambling around they do in continuous shots – punching, wrestling, flipping each other over, jumping onto tables, breaking furniture on people’s heads, swinging from things above. Cap chases Spidey through a graveyard and surprises one of those winos that’s always sitting around when something crazy goes by. Santo fights a studio full of what he accurately refers to as “karate guys.”

The two of them also get in a big burlesque club brawl as part of a plan which is described as “We’ll fight till Julia sees it. Then we pretend to have fainted.” (If they do end up pretending to faint I didn’t catch it.)

Despite the incorrect mask etiquette, the guy playing El Santo looks credible in the costume. Out of the mask he’s a long-haired hunky guy who wears a weird shoulder shawl thing, not like I ever imagined El Santo. This guy seems fond of himself except when he does a shower scene still wearing his underwear. Not a high school gym flashback, just alone where he’s staying. It’s weird.

My favorite part is a big fight scene in a small house. Captain America will be really going at it with Spider-man for a long continuous shot, then there’s an edit and all the sudden it’s El Santo fighting Spider-man. It keeps jumping around in kind of a confusing way that I thought was just poor editing, but then it turns out it’s cutting between two different rooms and there are two Spider-mans. Very clever.

I’m kind of interested in the concept of copyright. I feel like there’s some grey area in there that isn’t always acknowledged. Especially after the era of pop art and the modern age of remixing, sampling, mashing and referencing and all that shit. I think there’s a cultural value to being able to use iconography and references as the raw material for new works of art that is sometimes squashed by companies zealously protecting their “intellectual property.” These are ideas and creations made by artists, sometimes long dead, who no longer benefit from the selling of their works, it’s just “property” of some corporation now. Like I always like to say, the masterpieces of late ’80s, early ’90s hip hop like It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back, Paul’s Boutique and 3 Feet High and Rising could never have been released if today’s copyright law had been in place at the time. There’s an artistic debate about what constitutes music or art, but the winner of the argument is not necessarily gonna be the artists that need protection, it’s gonna be the companies with money that want more money. And you end up in a situation where George Clinton finds out he’s suing friends of his who sampled his recordings that somebody else controls. It can be ridiculous.

But I don’t know a solution to that and I’m not a copyright anarchist. In my opinion I’m some kind of artist myself, and if I can ever pay the rent doing what I love (writing down words in a specific order that communicates shit out of my brain into yours) then I’ll do it. I don’t want some motherfucker giving away my books for free without my permission because I like this system we got in place where I can get money by selling them. For that reason I generally avoid the illegal downloads and shit like that, as a matter of honor.

Turkish copyright law I think has changed since the days of 3 DEV ADAM, but it’s kind of crazy that back then they could just use these famous icons as they pleased, counterfeiting them like Spider-man does money. In the U.S. there were decades of legal battles, through development of a Cannon version and a James Cameron version before we finally got Sam Raimi doing the first official movie version of Spider-man. In Turkey they just sewed a costume and did it.

I wonder if they even knew what they were doing to Spider-man? I thought that was a character that was known throughout the world, but it seems like they must’ve just seen a picture of him and assumed that since he was a spider he must be a bad guy and pervert. (or maybe this is based on a famous graphics novel, that’s probly what it was)

It would be weird if this type of thing was allowed in the modern U.S. Remember when Tarantino wanted to adapt the James Bond book Casino Royale? He couldn’t because the Broccoli family, who inherited the rights, insist on controlling the James Bond “franchise.” That could’ve been something if he could’ve just ignored them and made it. Or I’m sure there are plenty of people who could’ve made a more interesting FRIDAY THE 13TH sequel than some of the official ones. And maybe the studios with all the money wouldn’t be so obsessed with remaking all the titles they own, because they wouldn’t own them. Maybe they’d be looking for people to create new things instead of just taking temporary control of a brand name.

Also we could get a big budget remake of this with Chris Evans, Tobey Maguire and Rey Mysterio Jr. It might be a new renaissance.

But that’s a fantasy. More likely we’d just get alot of amateurish movies like this, released in theaters instead of on Youtube and at comic strip conventions. Asylum would be less clever in their naming, pornos would be able to remove “This Ain’t” and “Official Parody” from their titles, and Uwe Bolle and that guy that does the serial killer movies would make sequels to whatever hit movies they wanted. It wouldn’t be that great.
I’m not really a huge fan of laughing at these crappy old movies where the appeal is mostly just the strangeness and the befuddling cultural differences. It’s hard for a person from my culture and time to wrap their head around what they were trying to do with this movie, and that makes it interesting. But for the most part it’s more fun to just know about them, see some clips and look at the poster, than to actually sit down and watch them. But I did for this one and I don’t regret it. So if you come across the DVD somewhere maybe give it a shot.

CAPTAIN AMERICA, EL SANTO AND SPIDER-MAN WILL RETURN IN ULI LOMMEL’S BOURNE ARMAGEDDON.

p.s.

Information that’s really more for me than for you: There’s a scene at a burlesque club where a girl is doing a sexy dance silhouetted behind a screen, along with a guy pretending to play drums as if performing live music. It was a song I’d heard a million times but I couldn’t remember where. It’s been bugging me and going through my head for days. But just now I figured it out, it’s “Source No. 3 (Caffe Reggio),” from the original SHAFT. So the loose copyright law helped them have good soundtracks too. None of that “I couldn’t get the rights to the song on the temp score” shit.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Thursday, July 28th, 2011 at 4:15 pm and is filed under Comic strips/Super heroes, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

30 Responses to “3 Dev Adam”

  1. There is supposedly a Chinese Harry Potter knockoff that is just the text of “The Hobbit” with different character names. This may just be an urban legend, but I’d like to think such a thing exists.

    You should probably give TURKISH RAMBO a try. It really does a nice job filling in the gaps between RAMBO 3 and RAMBO.

  2. Copyright discussions… this is going to be fun.

    How does anyone but Paramount/Warner/Microsoft benefit from the current system?

    For example, let’s say I say ”Hey Vern, that web site over there is letting people download pdfs of your books!” What could you do about it? Realistically, you could do nothing, unless you have a lot of money to hire a legal swat team to go on the offensive.

    However, those people downloading your books might find themselves fans of your work. They might begin visiting this site and wanting a T-shirt to show their enthusiasm. They might happily donate and/or pay for the next book or want to have physical copies of the books…

    I think that most downloaders are not cheap skates trying to not pay, but rather people simply wanting to try lots of new stuff they have never heard of before.

    A practical example: 5 bajillion albums are released every year in the US alone, there is no way I can buy them all, and with radio having become a 10 ten shitty pop songs on repeat, there is no way I can even know who these artists are. Yet, if I download, I can try before I buy, and sometimes I find someone I fall head over heels for. Sufjan Stevens has never been on the radio in my neck of the woods, but I downloaded one of his albums and I became a fan for life. If he comes to a city near me you can bet I will buy tickets to his concert. When a new album comes out, you can bet I am going to buy it. I want him to succeed and make a living because I love his work.

    This is a sticky situation, but I think that the advent of easy downloading has been the biggest blessing to the independent artist imaginable.

  3. This is really interesting, Vern! It definitely seems like something where YouTube clips are enough to make me appreciate it, though.

    I have known a lot of people who openly download music and books. I used to know lots of people who are into that Japanese Animation that is popular and they never purchased any of those big cartoon books but would instead download hundreds of them. I understand that for a lot of the movies that pirating allowed them to get movies they couldn’t get yet and that it also allowed people online to make subtitles or voice overs of the originals.

    I don’t think my friends that were into anime would have purchased the dvds even if they could, and even if they were subtitled or voice overed well (which, from what I gather, they usually are not), but it gave them a great excuse to steal the hard work of others.

    I recently downloaded a ton of music. I had purchased a lot of it through iTunes but I got so tired of how they handle music and when I got a phone that wasn’t an iPhone it became annoying to get that music transferred. Instead I had to illegally download a ton of it. I felt dirty but I had already paid for it once (and twice in some cases because of CDs).

    But, yeah, I love Paul’s Boutique and I’m glad that’s around.
    But, man, I love Paul’s Boutique.

  4. Grim Grinning Chris

    July 28th, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    Actually, in that fight scene it looks like there were THREE Spider-Men.

    I didn’t see the black pants on any of them though. Belt buckle, yeah… but they all looked like they were wearing blue tights to me. Ill fitting, to be sure, but blue tights nonetheless.

  5. I thought they were wearing bluejeans.

  6. Grim Grinning Chris

    July 28th, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Fuck your Yankee blue jeans!

  7. Finally, something I can get down with. Turkish movies are great because they’re sort of like the stories you’d make up about your toys when you were a kid. You’d have Batman and Skeletor fighting the Decepticons while Snake Eyes rode a My Little Pony into battle against a giant Cabbage Patch Kid. 3 DEV ADAM is one of the finest Turkish movies I’ve ever seen, better than TURKISH STAR WARS but not as good as TARKAN VS. THE VIKINGS.

    This is the kind of shit I spend my time watching instead of the movies that infect the public consciousness and get parodied at the MTV Movie Awards and shit. Yeah, maybe I’m rubbernecking, maybe I’m just an irony addict, but I just love panning for the little nuggets of transcendence that you can only get from movies where you don’t entirely trust that the people making them had any idea what they were doing. When I see a crappy B-movie nowadays, all I can think is that these people probably went to film school. They’ve got decent gear. They’ve seen every great movie ever made 50 times on home video, and they’ve been practicing with a camcorder since they were 11. There’s no excuse. But these movies, they were made by people with nothing going for them. They did the best they could, and they produced a fascinating document of their effort and imagination. Sure, these movies suck. Of course they suck. But they’ve got heart. I might laugh at them, but I respect their hustle, and sometimes they come up with some sublime Zen absurdity that would have been polished down to the mundanity of competence in more professional hands. When modern film seems soulless and cynical, I can always find a joyful little curio tucked deep in some dusty corner of cinema’s basement to make me dream again. You can’t fake this shit. It’s retarded, but it’s pure.

  8. I’m pretty sure The Cinema Snob reviewed this once

  9. Watching this movie in a theater pack with geeks at Fant-Asia a couple years ago was one of the funniest experience in my life.

  10. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    July 29th, 2011 at 1:10 am

    Great description of play time Mr Majestyk. I always used to put a super team of Transformers, Rock Lords and Star Wars together against some crazy shit made out of Lego, Zoids, Meccano and broken GI Joe figures, all held together with blue-tac. The battle was often won when Han Solo would climb into the back of a Wrinkles dogs head and pilot it as a giant cyborg.

  11. one guy from andromeda

    July 29th, 2011 at 3:22 am

    I’m with Majestik on this one. THAT’S entertainment!
    re: the copyright issue – Neil Gaiman on illegal downloading:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Qkyt1wXNlI

  12. Also wanted to say I really liked your review on this , Vern. When people usually review movies like Turkish Star Wars, they either say ”Hurr funny stuff happened because it looks so cheap” or they start praising it as a kind of holy grail, which is also a kind of weird and dishonest. So thanks for keeping your usual level headedness about such an easy target of a film. I would love to read about the world of Turkish Cinema, and 3rd world cinema in general.

    About the idea that if everyone was free to make another Friday the 13th, however, I have to say this: it works in Japan. Here companies turn a blind eye to fan creations. The fan comic, game, fiction, movie scene here is huge, quite a few fans even make a living off just doing their fan comic thing. But despite all the money involved and all the weird distortions of the original property, companies still turn a blind eye and even encourage the fan industry because 1. it generates enormous interest and enthusiasm in official properties, and 2. it creates fertile ground for future pros to cut their teeth on their way to working for those same big companies.

    As you can imagine most of those comics and stuff are pretty amateurish, but once in a while really special ones appear. Fascinating, often strangely personal, interpretations of famous characters and stories that are of quality to stand shoulder to shoulder with the work of the original creator.

    So, yeah, I think we should ease up in the west. After all, who wouldn’t want to see Tarintino’s 007? It would likely beat the pants off any ”official” Bond film made in the last 20 years…

  13. I would love for Vern to watch some Indian and Pakistani films. Some of them are so out there in terms of wtf-ness, while being pretty fucking badass to boot. Too bad most of the choice picks aren’t subtitled (at least the Pakistani ones I know). But let me give you some examples. There’s a Pakistani film called ‘International Gorillay’ (exact english spellings.) International means international, while gorillay is plural, as in gorillas. only, the gorillas are not apes but it is actually meant to guerillas. So the title really is International Guerrillas. Now the plot of this insane film is about Salman Rushdie (yes, the notorious writer, with who the muslims have no love lost), who is a debauched villain hiding out on an island lair, and the team of said guerillas who set out to destroy his ass. Shit’s classic. Another title is ‘Hitlar’. (The spellings are killer.) This gem tells us what actually happened to Adolf Hitler. He escaped the war, traveled to Pakistan and started a family somewhere in the rural heartland. He was also responsible for the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a fact brilliantly covered by his cohorts. The story is about Hitler (Hitlar) Jr. Pretty insane and highly enjoyable. And these are just the tip of the iceberg.

    Pakistani and Indian films are so packed with the badass, connoisseurs will completely flip. Vern, seek out some titles and let us know what you think of them. Being from the subcontinent, I strongly feel that our cinema is grossly underrepresented in the badass pantheon of the world. Endorsement from someone like Vern would be grealy beneficial.

  14. Thomas Caniglia

    July 29th, 2011 at 5:49 am

    I swear to Jesus, Vern, you make life 100% more awesome.

  15. I don’t know about copyright but spiderman would never do those bad things he’s like super friendly

  16. That’s just an act. This is the film that proves J. Jonah Jameson right.

  17. Jareth Cutestory

    July 29th, 2011 at 8:45 am

    Also Superman is a dick.

  18. Faraz: I am interested in exploring the incredible world of Pakistani cinema. Any advice on where and how I can track down these movies?

  19. Jareth Cutestory

    July 29th, 2011 at 9:20 am

    Majestyk: Last time I was at Allen’s Alley in Chelsea they had some Pakistani films pm VHS. I didn’t look at them close enough to know if they’re the kind of stuff Faraz is describing or the more mainstream weepy stuff.

    Somehow the films Faraz describes seem like they’d be way better to watch on VHS.

  20. This sounds phenomenal.

  21. “I mean I can accept every other aspect of this movie but having El Santo show his face is just too much, this is ridiculous.”
    Now you know how Judge Dredd fans feel about the Stallone movie.

    So what’s the actual legal status with regards to fan-made productions that aren’t for profit? There’s a lot of fanfilms out there aren’t really bothered, but when Fox made their MAX PAYNE movie, they took out a cease and desist order on the people who had been making a non-profit Max Payne fan film for years, on the basis it somehow affected the potential commercial appeal of the

  22. Gingersoll:

    You answered my unasked question. I had an importing binge for a while, and bought a video game called Fire Pro Wrestling. It had everything from the WWE to anime characters. Always wondered how the h they got away with that.

  23. Stu, yeah that’s the very problem. Even if it is a non profit project you are still in danger of at the least being hit with a court order to cease and desist. And further, if they don’t allow even a little profit, how can anything of truly high quality get made? Course, that’s the point, isn’t it?

    Anthony4545: FPW is an official product, so they would have got all the licenses and paid whatever dues were asked of them, but it does illustrate the greater willingness in Japan to entertain the idea of crossovers and mashups that would likely be shot down in the paranoid US industry.

    Not to say that the Japanese are lax on protecting their IP. Your ass is grass if you get caught selling bootleg dvds of officially released products. And Toho, for example, requires fans to ask permission to make/sell their own Godzilla figures/models with a limit on how many they can sell (but Toho is also the most controlling of all major companies here)

  24. I’ve been getting away with not paying for Vern’s site for years now. Try and stop me, coppers.

    Had to buy the damn book though.

  25. The copyright thing with 3 DEV ADAM and Marvel was written about a long time ago. If memory serves, Marvel didn’t have a clue about the film for years and by the time they’d gotten wind of it they simply couldn’t pin a specific party down who they could sue.

    Ultimately, Marvel just moved on, which was probably wise – it’s not like they’d gain anything financially and the film is so whacked out and far way from the real properties it couldn’t be seen as potentially confusing to anyone.

    Imagine seeing it as a kid, though – would’ve totally blown my mind for sure. I mean, it’s not exactly Nicholas Fucking Hammond, is it?

    Same thing with fan films – if it’s strictly non-profit and “respectful” of the source material then it’s OK, but not endorsed.

    However, this can be rescinded at any time – e.g.The whole MAX PAYNE thing – which was nasty and mean-spirited. Shame on those guys.

    OK, I’ve literally used up my whole brain power for the day with this post.

    Night, all.

  26. Majestyk – Like I said, I don’t think most of these films have been subtitled. There’s a site http://www.mondomacabro.com. You can find some titles there I think, like The Living Corpse (Zinda Laash), a black and white vampire film from Pakistan made in ’60’s. It’s pretty great. You can also find Bollywood Horror Collection which has three volumes, featuring a some real cool Indian horror films from the late ’70’s/’80’s; Purana Mandir (Old Templet) especially is a cult classic in our part of the land, as is Veerana (Vengeance of the Vampire). But these are all horror films. The Pakistani films I was talking about, I’m not sure about their availability. However here’s a list of titles for your interest:

    Maula Jatt, Maula Jatt in London, Musa Khan, International Gorillay, Hitlar etc.

    Maula Jatt is for Pakistanis is a phenomenon like Star Wars. It’s a gloriously violent tale of two rival alpha males for who honor is the most important thing in life. It has an iconic hero in Maula Jatt and an equally, even more popular villain, Noori Nutt. The dialogues are badass. Both actors, Sultan Rahi as Maula and Mustafa Qureshi as Noori are considered giants of Pakistani cinema, immortalized by these characters. Sultan Rahi in fact in the Guinness Book of Records as an actor having appeared in the most number of films ever!!! I once undertook a project of subtitling the film into English myself but never got around to finishing it :S

  27. Majestyk – These films are available in Pakistan on DVD, though titles would be an issue for you, I suppose.

  28. Knox Harrington

    August 5th, 2014 at 2:55 am

    So I just got back from 3 weeks in Turkey. The people there do indeed love El Santo.

    However, I couldn’t find the mythical El Santo statue that many claim stands outside some cinema somewhere in downtown Istanbul. No one I spoke to knew anything about it, and I couldn’t find its location online either. In fact, I’ve never even seen a picture of it, despite the fact that so many people who review this film mentions the statue’s existence.

    Is it a myth? Was it taken down years ago? If anyone knows, I’d love to get to the bottom of the El Santo statue mystery.

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