To quote movie producer Dino De Laurentiis, “When King Kong dies, everyone cries. But when Jaws dies…” At this time, I would like to add an extension: When people view “King Kong Lives,” they slowly sink into a mental breakdown.
Was this 1986 sequel even necessary? It had already been proven that Kong was the only king, not to be dethroned by “Son of Kong,” which was released in 1933, just nine months after the massively famous original “King Kong.”
The big difference between “King Kong Lives” and “Son of Kong” is that “Son” tries to continue the narrative structure with the introduction of Kong’s lost son Kiko, but ultimately ends in disappoint as a result of the rushed production. “King Kong Lives” is a headache so massive that it requires three bottles of aspirin and an entire package of Alka-Seltzer to help a viewer get through it.
“King Kong Lives” picks up where the 1976 remake of “King Kong” concluded – with the death of Kong. (Or the supposed death, since it fades out before we see the ape die.)
It jumps to a decade later when it is revealed that Kong has not been dead, but only in a coma, and needs a new heart. Linda Hamilton plays a surgeon who manages to create an artificial one to replace the beaten-up organ, but realizes that Kong still needs a blood transfusion. Conveniently enough, a jungle adventurer captures a giant female gorilla from Borneo to provide the blood donation. The good news is that Kong lives; the bad news is that he escapes with his newfound mate.
From this point on, the news about the film is not good. While “King Kong” had its cheesy moments, it still provided some emotion and tried to keep the audience engaged in the characters and story. With this sequel, the audience is engaged only in wondering how a pile of ape scum like this could get the green light. Aside from the typical bad acting, the ape suits themselves rarely look realistic, and I just can’t help but ask who had the idea of adding ape boobs to Lady Kong. It just looks silly and distracting
But it gets much worse. Once the apes escape, the military is called in to track them down, led by an insane lieutenant colonel who wants to kill the pair. What ingenious additions.
The stereotypical depiction of a bunch of Army guys who just want to shoot is a cliché I can’t stand. In the end, these are nothing more than cardboard characters who have just been written in for padding’s sake. “King Kong Lives” takes so many plot turns that they tend to be either ridiculous or an example of just lazy writing.
In the second half, we are treated to the two Kongs separated, with the female in captivity and Kong himself stuck in the South, snacking on gators and fending off annoying, stereotyped rednecks.
Do I even dare mention the climax, where Kong is fighting off an entire army near a barn and at one point kills the colonel by chucking his tank at a cemetery where the guy gets crushed on a grave? If that doesn’t sum up how sacrilegious and disrespectful this sequel is, I don’t know what else does.
Overall, it’s no wonder this movie bombed: It’s like someone wrote a piece of ridiculous fan-fiction, and someone else had the idea that this would translate well on the big screen.
In this case, it doesn’t. There are plot holes involving Kong’s mechanical heart, really poor efforts in characters and acting, laughable gorilla suits, and moments when the movie tries to be serious but just can’t and looks flat silly.