3 Dev Adam (Three Mighty Men)
(Yildiz Film, 1973)
Director: T. Fikret Ucak; Screenplay: Dogan Tamer; Photo: Orhan Kapki
CAST: Aytekin Akkaya (Captain America), Deniz Erkanat, Yavuz Selekman (Santo), Mine Sun, Teyfik Sen, Altan Gunbay, Dogan Tamer, Osman Han, Hasan Ceylan, Ersun Kazancel (note: these names have been "Anglicized" to the extent that I have not used the correct diacritical marks or special characters)
NOTES: this is an "unofficial" Santo film, known outside of Turkey mostly via poor bootlegged dupes under titles such as "Captain America and Santo vs. Spiderman." According to the book Mondo Macabro (which everyone should own!), Turkish filmmakers were not hesitant to "borrow" fictional characters from other countries without bothering to get permission: Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Tarzan, and Mandrake the Magician all made Turkish film appearances. And so it's interesting to see that Santo joined their ranks in 1973's 3 Dev Adam. (Rumor has it that there was a theatre in Turkey which actually featured a permanent image of Santo on its marquee, so popular were his films in that country)
Three Americans (?) arrive in Istanbul to assist the local police in capturing arch-villain Spiderman. One is a handsome, stylishly-dressed man (whose secret identity is Captain America, although in the film he is referred to as just "America"), another is the attractive young woman Julia, and the third is a muscular fellow who dons a silver mask to become Santo. The Santo costume is a very close copy of the real Santo's outfit, including a red cape and the shiny silver knee-patches on his tights (although the actor's long black hair sticking out of the bottom of the mask in the back is not quite as faithful to the original!).
Knowing absolutely no Turkish, I cannot give specific details of the plot, except that the evil Spiderman (who has bushy eyebrows that stick out of the eye-holes in his mask) is a really bad person. The movie opens with the murder of a young woman, who is buried up to her neck in sand and then killed by having the spinning blades of a boat's motor shoved into her face! Spiderman later strangles a woman taking a bath, and skewers a man and a woman taking a shower together. He steals small statuettes from his victims and has an evil chuckle, "ha ha he he he." In one sequence, Santo and Captain American fight a series of bogus Spidermen, only to watch as the real villain escapes with the loot: "Ha ha ha ho ho--goodnight Americanos!" (this line is in English) Later, Spiderman punishes one of his henchmen by fastening a long piece of tubing over the man's face, then inserting two guinea pigs into the pipe: the man screams, and blood seeps out of the tubing (yes, those guinea pigs are real killers).
In addition to a lot of energetic fights and some cruel violence, the film also contains sexy aspects, including a couple of nightclub striptease sequences, and a scene in which the unmasked Spiderman makes love to his lovely (but evil) assistant. The production values aren't much, but the photography and editing are certainly competent. The music score appears to be made up of "library" (or just plain stolen) music (including a Frank Sinatra song), but it is usually appropriate to the action on the screen.
The heroes indulge in almost as many brawls out of costume as they do while dressed as Santo and Captain America. Santo's first masked appearance takes place about 20 minutes into the movie, as he breaks into the office of a karate school, knocks out the boss, and then thrashes 4 karate experts. The actor playing Santo is strong and knows some moves, but he isn't as bulky as the real Santo and fights in "movie" style as opposed to Santo's modified-wrestling style. On the whole, however, the action scenes are satisfactory, since the performers all enthusiastically engage in a lot of punching, jumping, kicking, etc.
At the end of the film, Captain America (not in costume) has a very long chase-and-fight scene with Spiderman; but as soon as one costumed villain is killed, another pops up! Finally, the last Spiderman is (apparently) decapitated by a piece of machinery, and the case is closed. As the movie ends, the three visitors are preparing to depart, but the Captain America guy spots Spiderman in a nearby car--only to discover it is an obnoxious kid wearing a mask.
3 Dev Adam is a satisfactory action picture on its account (too bad somebody doesn't find a decent print and add English sub-titles!), but it also serves as a kind of tribute to the real Santo, illustrating his international fame. Note: Mondo Macabro reports that Yilmayan Seytan (Deathless Devil, 1973) "features another Santo clone," but this hero is apparently not actually called Santo (as in 3 Dev Adam), and the ad reproduced in this book shows a character wearing a dark mask, not a silver one.
Back to the Santo Filmography.
Posted 21 May 2000 by D. Wilt (email@example.com)