AKA: Hunting The Unknown
Director: Frank Kramer (Gianfranco Parolini)
Starring: Tony Kendall, Brad Harris, Maria Perschy, Nikola Popovic, Liliane Dulovic
Music: Bobby Gutesha
Based on the novel by Bert F. Island (a pseudonym for Paul Alfred Muller)
Kiss Kiss Kill Kill is the first of seven films in the Kommissar X (Commissioner X) series, but the characters are played with such a familiarity you could be forgiven for thinking that this is the third or fourth entry in the series.
The film opens with two cars racing around a scenic canyon road, one in pursuit of the other. As the cars navigate the twists and turns at speed, the catchy title tune, I Love You Joe Walker drifts over the top and the credits roll. After the credit crawl has finished the driver of the first car slides to a stop at a dock yard. The occupant of the second car isn’t far behind. Then on foot as they race among the containers, the two men slug it out. Finally the man who has being doing the chasing gets the drop on the first guy. He has him cornered, pulls a pistol and shoots. But the other man doesn’t fall. Quite the opposite in fact. He gives the AOK gesture with his fingers. The bullets were blanks and the whole chase was a training exercise. Red herring over. But the sequence did introduce us to our two main protagonists. The victor was private eye Joe Walker (Tony Kendall). Walker is the world’s most expensive detective and lady’s man to boot. The other party is Captain Tom Rowland, an American policeman who seems to have jurisdiction wherever he goes. Let’s just say he’s a ‘super-cop’.
On with the plot – there are four men, who a long time ago, well let’s just say that they obtained a large sum of money through disreputable means. Their names are Al Costello, Manuel Prado, Henry Mail and the fourth is simply known as Oberon. They own a company and since they all do not have children, they have left their assets to each other in the event of death. The company seems self-sustaining and they have since gone separate ways and live very comfortable lives.
The first of the four that we meet is Al Costello. He is playing tennis at a luxurious hotel resort. After the game, he packs his sports bags and heads to the cubicles for a shower and to change. Unfortunately for him, someone has planted a bomb in his sports bag and well, you can guess the rest. Goodbye Mr. Costello.
Next we meet Manuel Prado. After a hard day at the office, he prepares to leave work for home. As he starts his car – you guessed it – a bomb goes off. Goodbye Mr. Prado.
Now we are introduced to Oberon (Nikola Popovic). He is reading the newspaper. Thankfully it is packed with information or us poor viewers would have no idea what is happening. Firstly Oberon reads that his two ex-partners have gone up in flame. He also reads that Captain Tom Rowland is in the country investigating a missing nuclear physicist and a strange imbalance in gold payments. And finally, that the world’s most famous detective, Joe Walker is holidaying in the country. What country are we in? I don’t know – they don’t tell us – let’s just say it looks sunny and European.
Naturally enough, with partners dropping like flies, Oberon is concerned about events, and suggests that his secretary, Joan Durrant (Maria Perschy) contacts Walker for help. She does this. As Walker is driving along, she hails him by standing in the middle of the road. But she doesn’t ask for protection for her boss. No, she asks Walker to find the missing nuclear physicist, Bob Carroll. She hands over three thousand dollars and her only clue – the contact details for a stage actress named Nancy Wright who knows about the disappearance. Walker accepts the case.
When Walker gets back to his hotel a girl is waiting for him in his room. Her name is Bobo and she wants protection from a jealous boyfriend. Walker agrees to help her too, but first things first. He phones up Nancy Wright (Liliane Dulovic) and arranges a meeting. Walker is about to head out when Bobo gets scared. She says she’ll be alone. Walker slides his mother’s ring onto her finger, and calmly tells her that while she is wearing the ring, she’ll never be alone. It seems pretty lame to me, but somehow it convinces Bobo to stay put. Walker heads off for his rendezvous with Wright.
Outside as Walker makes his way to his car, a thug tries to stop him. Walker disposes of this nuisance quickly, only to have the thug’s partner sneak up with a gun. The partner gets in the car and orders Walker to drive. Next comes one of my favourite set pieces from the film. Walker doesn’t have an ejector seat in his car, but with some sneaky seat adjustment and some deft driving, he still manages to send his unwanted guest flying from the car (you may have guessed the car is a convertible – or otherwise the thug would have flown into the roof.)
Walker turns up to meet Wright. She is a stage actress and he catches the end of her show, but before he can meet her, she is murdered with a blow dart. Walker chases the assailant to the rooftop but before he can get any answers (and this is always the way with Eurospy films), the dartsman is shot from below. It is worth mentioning that the shooter has a terrific folding rifle. It looks like a normal radio but folds out into a compact sniper’s rifle. It may not seem very practical to today’s iPod generation, but it is a nifty sight gag.
So the blow dart murderer is shot and falls from the roof, and the sniper calmly drives away, and poor old Joe Walker is left with no clues.
Rowland is called in to investigate and isn’t too happy to find Walker involved (and they seemed like such good friends at the start – after all they train together?) Walker plays Rowland a tape that Wright had made. It incriminates Oberon.
Both Walker and Rowland head back to Walker’s hotel room. In a closet they find Bobo dead. Her possessions have also been taken, including the ring that Walker gave her. Of course, the ring was no ordinary ring. It had a tiny transmitter enclosed. Looking at a radar screen it appears that Bobo’s ring is now at Oberon’s house. As they are about to investigate Oberon, by co-incidence Oberon phones Walker. He says that whoever killed Castello and Prado is now after him. He claims the killer is the fourth man in their original partnership, Henry Mail.
Walker and Rowland hastily make their way over to Oberon’s villa. But as they are questioning him, men attack the villa and Oberon is shot in the back. His body falls into the sea and the current takes away his body. It looks like our two heroes have failed to protect Oberon, but out to sea on a boat; a special underwater door allows a very much alive Oberon to enter.
As the world thinks Oberon is dead, and Mail is the only one of the original four alive, he inherits the assets of the company. As he inspects his new yacht, The Golden Beam, who should he discover hiding in the engine room. You guessed it – Oberon. Oberon ventilates Mail with a pistol and has the body encased in concrete.
Walker and Rowland try to track Mail but have little luck (little do they know he has been disposed of). So Walker returns to Oberon’s villa, After a bit of creative snooping, he finds a secret passage. This leads him to an elevator shaft. Before he can go any further he is captured by two of Oberon’s guards. He is escorted to a lower level where a giant set of doors open. He is greeted by an army of identical blonde women, all dressed in black and carrying machine guns.
Walker quips, “I’m after a murderer, not a harem!’
Walker is loaded onto a truck and driven through a long underground tunnel. What’s at the other end? I am not telling. I try to save some surprises for you. But it is pretty spectacular and most importantly, a great deal of fun. It provides everything a movie from this era and in this genre should provide.
Kiss Kiss Kill Kill certainly carries it’s influences on it’s sleeve. They are easy to spot. Some of the costumes are straight out of Dr. No. Our heroes dive off a cliff at the end like Derek Flint. And the army of girls look remarkably similar to the girls from Pussy Galore’s Flying Circus, But having said that, it is not downright plagiarism – it’s more like endowing the film with the familiar trappings of a spy film.
If there is a flaw with this movie, they have thrown too much at it. The plot is almost undecipherable without a slide-rule, and too many of the female characters are playing basically the same character. Another curvaceous blonde makes eyes at Joe Walker and leads him into danger. But then again, maybe that’s the magic of Joe Walker – all women are putty in his hands.
As the theme song goes, “…I love you Joe Walker, just like every woman loves you…”