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Man of Action

Imagine Omer Sharif, John Wayne and Keanu "Matrix" Reeves rolled in one, with a touch of actor-director Clint Eastwood.Add the invincible fighting technique of Bruce Lee.

Put a Turkish branding on it and you get Cüneyt Arkın. "I asked myself whether I should kill myself if I remained an invalid," he told the NTV channel after news that he would have to remain in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

The man of the action movies thought that the life of an invalid was simply not worth living. The 72-year-old actor became front page news when it was reported that he was paralyzed for life.

It turned out that he only had some problems in his hands and feet and is now fine. A large public rushed to the hospital, in a display of affection to The Man Who Saved the World.It would be no exaggeration that Turkish cinefiles over the age of 40 must have watched hundreds of films starring Cüneyt Arkın, or Mr. Fahrettin Cüreklibatur as his real name goes.Between the years of 1965 and 1990, Arkın made an average of 15 movies a year ranging from historical drama to futuristic "Star Wars."

Arkin’s most notable movies are historical dramas, taking place during the first centuries of the Ottoman Empire or slightly before the Ottoman Empire, during the age of the Anatolian Seljuks.

His best known part is "Malkaçoğlu" based on a cartoon hero that fights against the "Frenk" (Christians) during the Ottoman Era.

His line in Kara Murat, the fighter of Fatih (Mehmet the Conqueror) "Catch him, Wolf" has been the quintessential line in all fights.

The joke was that Cüneyt Arkın could never be beaten. He himself laughingly told the episode that in a fight between his two sons, the younger and weaker son chided the other: "Why should you be the one always beating me up? Do you think you are Cüneyt Arkın?"

Arkın had a go at political or "socially aware" movies in the late 1970s but the role of the "poor man with a great sense of justice" was met with limited success. His attempts to be a "romantic jeune premier" also fell short. The Turkish public liked him as John Wayne, not as Cary Grant. His sentimental roles, mostly overacted, led to romantic clichŽs, such as "Nazannn, nnnoo, I say, nnnooo... annnnd nnnow I am blinnnnd."

Ironically, his fame abroad (under the name Steve or George Arkın) came from one of his poorest-quality films: Dünyayı Kurtaran Adam (The Man Who Saves The World Ğ also known as Turkish Star Wars), an extremely low-budget science fiction tentatively famous for including bootlegged scenes from Star Wars.

"Now get the florescent bulb and save the world," we, as young fools, used to laugh, in a reference to Arkın’s saber in the low-budget movie: nothing more sophisticated than a long tube of florescent lights we used at home.But there was something amazingly touching in the way that Arkın related to the audience and his profession: "I have always tried to be respectful of my audience and adopt a lifestyle that they would approve of," he said. He led a very family-oriented life, even at the height of his success, with his wife and two sons.

When he appeared on the TV and told the touching story of his fears to remain an invalid, the anchorwoman said: "We would like to welcome you on this program after your treatment."

"Certainly," said the actor. "Should I come on horseback?"

A likely reply from The Man Who Saved the World.