Tuesday, July 03, 2012


A geologist and his young son are on a river in Africa when their canoe is overturned in some rapids. The father drowns and the son, Erik, is presumed dead, but a few years later, a blurry photograph is taken of a lad in a loincloth, alone in the middle of Tzekunda country, and Myrna and Ken, two National Geographic journalists, come to Tarzan hoping he'll help them find the boy. Tarzan is reluctant because it is forbidden for outsiders to trespass on Tzekunda land, but when the tribe holds a contest of skills to choose a new leader, Tarzan approaches them.  Two brothers, Buhara (the good guy) and Nagambi (the bad guy), compete for the title; Buhara wins and promises to look for the boy, but soon the sore loser Nagambi attacks his brother and leaves him bound and bleeding, to be eaten by lions. Erik, the jungle boy, finds Buhara and tries to nurse him back to health.  Tarzan goes ahead into Tzekunda land to find the boy, and Myrna and Ken eventually follow, leading to fisticuffs, animal attacks, and spear and gun fights before Erik is talked into heading back to civilization. 

This film, late in the officially sanctioned series, has the plus of location shooting (in Brazil) but the minuses of a draggy story, lackluster acting, and a TV-movie look.  Mike Henry, a pro football player turned actor, certainly looks the part; physique-wise, he's by far the best movie Tarzan ever. But his lackadaisical delivery of dialogue and flat American accent take away any pomp or mystery from the character, leaving him just another comic book superhero in a loincloth. Aliza Gur, a minor Bond girl in From Russia With Love, is remarkably irritating as Myrna, and when the spears started flying, I kept hoping one would find its way straight through her (Spoiler: no such luck). Rafer Johnson (an Olympic decathalon champ) and Edward Johnson provide some sparks as the brothers.  Despite the location filming, most of the animal shots (elephants, giraffes, etc.) are clearly from stock footage.  Only watch this if you want to admire Mike Henry's body—and I've sat through worse movies for less. [DVD]

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