An older fan-edit that is absolutely worth standing alongside the most recent work. I have to give credit to Slark for the opening title cards. It set me in the right frame of mind to enjoy this edit with appropriate expectations. In short: it is not a good movie. There is no magic wand that can make it a good movie. But there is a certain charm to it, and particularly for fans of pulp serials or Doc Savage himself, what this edit HAS done is revealed a kernel of what could've been a good movie. As the title cards say "If someone watches this and complains that they wasted 1 1/2 hours of their time, I'll consider that a victory because they didn't turn it off after 3 minutes!" Well, I watched it all the way through, and for a Doc Savage fan, it wasn't time wasted at all.
After trimming so much away, what we're left with is a smoothly edited film that gives a focused and consistent narrative: an old-school adventure serial of globe-trotting and scientific mystery. Now, there are parts that are super-cheesy and have been left in...they're just endemic to the story. The music is a horrible choice for making you take any of this without eye-rolls, but it IS "The Doc Savage March". While I would've scrapped the entire score, I understand the desire to keep at least the main theme. There are also some lines and scenes which are pretty campy and over-the-top ("Mona, you're a brick." Bwa ha!) but honestly it's kind of the charm of the film. You're just not going to get a serious action movie out of this, so why not leave in some of the less offensive wacky fun? Some of the inventions and effects work are also super-forced and campy, but they are consistent with the novels, so really you just have to keep them as they were realized.
The intro to the film is the major win here, and I'd love to see a whole movie done in a similar vein. What's here seems more like a long TV episode akin to a Magnum PI or Knight Rider...about the same level of quality, budget, acting, cinematography, etc. But this pared down version gives us a film that could stand alongside many of the big movies of the late '70s/early '80s.... it's not any cheesier than many of Moore's Bond films, not any more camp than ridiculous comedies with former SNL members. And what it does have is a really fantastic portrayal of Doc by Ron Ely! Until we get a Hollywood update (a matter of time), this is the best realization of those old novels a fan could hope for. Thanks to Slark for salvaging something from the wreckage.