When you sit down to watch a Turkish trash-action movie, you expect three things:
1. It will be in Turkish.
2. It will make no sense.
3. It will have a chase scene that involves someone driving against traffic.
Golden Girl (aka Karate Girl) is in Turkish, but other than that, it’s not very Turkish at all. There are no wild plot points that involve spies and espionage. There are no elaborate action sequences where people run through living rooms. There is no Turkish Spock or Turkish Spiderman. No one catches on fire. There is none of that. In other words, this movie actually makes sense, and for that it suffers.
A young mute woman named Zeynep sells flowers on the street, communicating through messages written on index cards. She is literally speechless. After a terrible accident when she was five, she stopped talking. If you’re curious about the accident, then you will be curious for a long time because it goes unexplained. A doctor promises she’ll be able to speak again after an operation. If you’re curious about this operation, then you will be curious for a long time. She and her father scrape together their savings.
Meanwhile, five convicts escape from prison:
There’s the one who wants to surrender.
The one in a fuzzy cap.
The crazy, rape-hungry one.
The one who wants to talk about his feelings.
The fugitives hassle Zeynep and her father. He ends up with gardening shears around his neck. She gets thrown on the bed for rapey fun times, but cops arrive and the cons flee.
But good news, guess who can talk now?
Zeynep weeps over her father’s grave. “Dear father, you always wanted to hear me say ‘father,’ and now I can say ‘father,’ but it’s no use.” This is just a taste, an amuse-bouche of the melodrama that is yet to come.
Our girl is out for revenge. She wants to take the law into her own hands, but she is weak. As in, her hands are literally too weak to hold, aim, and shoot a gun. I thought the whole point of guns was that they’re easy to shoot, which is why they cause so many problems. If guns were truly unwieldy, Detroit would be a very different place. But hey, things are different in Turkey—the “Gateway to the East!” Luckily for us, Murat, a smoldering stud in a leather blazer, teaches Zeynep how to strengthen her wrists so she can shoot a gun. This involves chopping wood and lifting a rock tied to a string. As in, here is a rock and here is a lady reeling it up like a fish in a pond. This is a thing that happens in the movie. It is by far the most Turkish thing Golden Girl has to offer.
Then she learns karate. Cue the montage. Zeynep is now ready for revenge, but first she must go through the police academy.
Golden Girl is a solid piece of meh. It rides squarely in the middle of the road. There are no twists or turns, just a straight shot with occasional rest stops that have no Dunkin’ Donuts in them. What we get are long, mournful stares at the camera and plenty of melodramatic dialogue. It’s more like a low-budget telenovela (El Señor de los Cielos anyone?) than a no-budget Turkish action movie scraped off a bootleg VHS. The plot makes sense and is easy to follow for the most part. The filmmakers had it all planned out. It’s evenly paced, dare I say plodding. There’s no sense of urgency or passion or even originality. It is sufficiently skillful and thoughtful and thus, lost among the sea of those who do it better. There is, however, a fantastic scene where a man gets shot six times in slow motion. In the Turkish version, he screams for a very, very long time. There’s also a guy who falls off a roof, but it doesn’t happen in slow motion so it doesn’t count.
At some point in Golden Girl, a convict holds an infant and threatens to throw it off a roof. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to see that. A baby doing a slow-motion dive off a building is exactly what this movie needed. But director Andre Chelossi didn’t go there. He didn’t go a lot of places, actually.