King Kong Lives starts off with the final few minutes from the original King Kong (1976) as the giant Gorilla seemingly falls to his death from the World Trade Center in New York. Jump to 'Atlanta Institute, Georgia Ten Years Later' where they have Kong (Peter Elliott) on a life support system waiting to undergo a heart transplant(!). Dr. Amy Franklin (Linda Hamilton) is ready to perform the operation but Kong needs a steady supply of blood to survive the procedure, as luck would have it diamond mercenary Hank Mitchell (Brian Kerwin) has found a lady Kong (George Yiasoumi) while trekking through the Borneo jungle. In no time whatsoever the institute has brought the female & the operation has taken place with the artificial heart going in nicely. The operation is a success & Kong lives, the institute decides to keep both Gorillas but when Kong hears the female call out he uses all his strength to break free from his chains & go in search of a mate, obviously the United States Army can't have giant apes running around can they so it's up to Colonel Nevitt (John Ashton) to capture them by whatever means necessary...
Directed by John Guillermin &, according to the IMDb an uncredited Charles McCracken, this is the sequel to the '76 remake of King Kong which Guillermin also directed. In my humble opinion I think King Kong Lives is one of those so-bad-it's-good abominations that I simply can't believe someone green lighted & trust me King Kong Lives is a bad film through & through. The script by Roland Shusett & Steven Pressfield is absolutely hilarious at times, you won't know weather to laugh or cry at some of the stuff that makes it's way into this film. I think King Kong Lives is meant to be a serious film but scenes such as the heart transplant complete with massive over-sized medical instruments, the giant artificial heart that needs to be lowered into Kong's chest using a crane(!) & all filmed in complete seriousness, there's a bit when Kong manages to 'sneak' up behind an entire platoon of soldiers, for Christs sake Kong is a 50 foot Gorilla couldn't any of these dumb soldiers see him? The scenes in which Kong & Lady Kong romanticise with hugs, 'I love you' type looks & Kong wanting to give her something so he uproots a bunch of trees & tries to give her those! The entire concept is bizarre, daft & just complete total & utter nonsense while at times it becomes embarrassing to watch. But having said that it moves along like a rocket & is never dull or boring, when all said & done I found King Kong Lives to be a throughly entertaining film for all the wrong reasons.
Director Guillermin messes everything up, there is no excitement, scares, tension or any action although it is quite funny on numerous occasions. The whole mood of the film is wrong considering just how stupid it is. There are a few snippets of violence & gore, Kong's removed heart, someone is snapped in two, Kong eats someone as well as a load of crocodiles & he gets shot at the end.
With a supposed budget of over $30,000,000 King Kong Lives is a travesty, where did all the money go? The special effects are worse than the '76 version in my opinion because of the 10 year gap, didn't special effects move on at all during that period? If you put King Kong '76 & King Kong Lives side-by-side you would think not. It really is just a man in a rubber monkey suit from beginning to end, the full size hand & arm shots are awful as they just look so stiff & unnatural. For 30 big ones King Kong Lives is a shoddily produced film & doesn't look the part at all. The acting is about as good as you would expect from such a silly film, I wonder if the cast knew how bad this was going to turn out to be?
King Kong Lives provides 100 odd minutes of pure entertainment for me, it's a crap film but it's just so bad it's good. It's a bit like a train wreck, you know you shouldn't look but you can't take your eyes off it. An absolute treat for bad film fans!