TARZAN’S THREE CHALLENGES (director: Robert Day; screenwriters: Berne Giler/based on the characters of Edgar Rice Burroughs; cinematographer: Ted Scaife; editor: Fred Burnley; music: Joseph Horovitz; cast: Jock Mahoney (Tarzan), Woody Strode (Khan/Tarim), Tsu Kobayashi (Cho San, Prince’s Nursemaid), Earl Cameron (Mang), Salah Jamal (Hani), Anthony Chinn (Tor), Robert Hu (Nari), Christopher Carlos (Sechung), Ricky Der (Kashi); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sy Weintraub; MGM; 1963-UK)
“This is the stuntman-turned-actor, the 44-year-old Jock Mahoney’s second and final time playing Tarzan.”
Reviewed by Dennis SchwartzThis is the stuntman-turned-actor, the 44-year-old Jock Mahoney’s second and final time playing Tarzan. He has the distinction of being the oldest Tarzan to put on the loincloth and showoff his pecs. The pic was shot on location in Thailand, as the African Apeman changes locations and looks pale, exhausted and ill at ease in his new setting. Maybe that’s because Mahoney was really sick during the filming, as for sport he swam the Klong River, known as the dirtiest river in the world, and contacted amoebic dysentery, dengue fever and then pneumonia. He lost 45 pounds, and didn’t fully recover until close to two years later.
Robert Day (“The Green Man”/”Corridors of Blood”/”The Rebel”)directs with workmanlike efficiency, and the script byBerne Giler remains uninspiring but literate for such a pulp work. The result is a watchable Tarzan, that maybe benefits from a new look after all these years.
The Sun Mai spiritual leader Tarim (Woody Strode) is dying and chooses as his heir a young boy living in a distant monastery, Kashi (Ricky Der). Tarim’s jealous brother Khan (also played by Woody Strode) demands that his son Nari (Robert Hu) be the successor and threatens to kill the chosen heir before he reaches the city to accept the honor. Since Tarim feels he can’t trust any local to deliver the heir safely to the city, he follows the advice of a monk living in Africa who recommends Tarzan. Before Tarzan reaches the monastery, Khan’s goons attack his boat and kill his guide. The Apeman loses his credentials and the map to the monastery, and is forced to use the suspicious looking Hani (Salah Jamal), who might have been one of the attacking pirates, as his guide. At the monastery, the head monk puts Tarzan through a number of tests to see if he’s really Tarzan and man enough for the job. After Tarzan shows his hunting skills with a bow and arrow, his prowess in a strength competition and answers a Zen riddle, he’s allowed to take his guide Hani, the child, his nursemaid (Earl Cameron) and a warrior monk named Mang (Earl Cameron) on the mission. Then Tarzan must overcome the betrayal of Hani, a couple of Khan henchmen who in their failed attempt to get Kashi kill Mang, and other obstacles from Khan. When Tarim dies the Chosen One can no longer be touched, so he’s whisked off to the city and passes three challenges to show he’s the reincarnated one in the line of successors for Tarim. However, before the kid gets the holy job, Khan argues for a fourth test of strength and wishes to pit himself against the kid. Kashi wisely chooses Tarzan to take his place and the two adversaries engage in a knife fight on a net over large kettles of boiling oil. With Tarzan’s victory, Kashi can now be declared as the spiritual sovereign for his people.
Of note, A baby elephant named Hungry replaces Cheetah in the comic relief role reserved for cute animals.
REVIEWED ON 10/24/2011 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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