The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977)

Fistful Of Yen

Director: John Landis
Starring: Evan Kim, Master Bong Soo Han, Ingrid Wang, Nathan Jung, Eric Micklewood, Derek Murcott, Alberto Issacs

Now it’s time to get a little bit silly. The Kentucky Fried Movie is a collection of comedy sketches put together by the Kentucky Fried Theatre creators Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and David Zucker. The trio are better known these days for Airplane (Flying High), Hots Shots and The Naked Gun. Fans of those films will know what type of humour to expect.

One of the sketches in The Kentucky Fried Movie is a mini movie called a Fistful Of Yen, which is an elaborate and hilarious send up of Enter The Dragon. The movie begins on the Isle Of Lucy and we witness the detonation of a thirty megatonne nuclear bomb.

Three days later British Intelligence, Asquith (Eric Micklewood) and Pennington (Derek Murcott), are watching footage of the explosion, which they have stolen from the Russians. The man behind the explosion is Dr. Klahn. Klahn lives in a hidden fortress in the Harts Mountains. An apart from detonating nuclear bombs, Klahn has also kidnapped Ada Gronick, who is a famous Chinese nuclear physicist.

Asquith and Pennington’s briefing session features footage of Klahn’s top henchmen. The first is Butkus, Klahn’s bodyguard – ‘he is tough and ruthless.’ Next is Kwong, Klahn’s chauffeur – ‘he is rough and toothless.’

The briefing is over and Asquith states, ‘We need someone to find a mountain fortress, defeat an army of deadly killers, and come back with Ada Gronick.’ Thankfully, Pennington knows just the man to ask. He hires Mr. Loo (Evan Kim) for the assignment.

Loo arrives at the hidden fortress to join Klahn’s army. As he walks through the grounds, hundreds of martial artists are kitted out in white, and practising their skills. Some are breaking boards and bricks; others are toughening their hands by thrusting them into cauldrons of hot sand and gravel. One group of men are practising their derby throwing skills (like Oddjob, Harrold Sakata, in Goldfinger).

At the induction ceremony, Dr. Klahn (Master Bong Soo Han) greets all the new men. He says:

‘We are building a fighting force of extraordinary magnitude.
We forge our spirits in the tradition of our ancestors.
You have our gratitude!’

It may not read like much on paper, but if you have seen Enter The Dragon, Master Bong Soo Han’s impersonation of Hahn (Sek Kin) is fantastically funny. The lines get a work out through the rest of this show (on a telephone answering machine, and after one of Klahn’s sexual encounters).

Now that Loo has penetrated the hidden fortress, there is not much point in outlining more of the plot. The movie only goes for thirty-one minutes, too reveal more would ruin the show, but most of it is pilfered directly from ‘Dragon’.

But I will draw your attention to a couple of scenes to illustrate the low brow humour in this satire. In one sequence, three of Klahn’s guards have failed in their duties and have to be punished. Their names are ‘Long Wang’, ‘Hung Well’, and ‘Enormous Genitals’. I hear you groan. Another of my favourite gags is when the klaxon alarm goes off – it’s a sight gag, sorry, but you’ll have to watch it, to get it.

As if the martial arts skill of Mr. Loo wasn’t enough, this film also comes equipped with Big Jim Slade.

A trailer uploaded to Youtube by tstyle9:

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Secret Agent Man: From Prima With Love (2000)

Produced by Barry Sonnenfeld
Directed by Perry Lang
Costas Mandylor, Dina Myer, Dondre T Whitfield, Paul Guilfoyle, Musetta Vandor, Jsu Garcia, Kevin McNulty
Music by David Bergeaud
Song, ‘Secret Agent Man’ performed by The Supreme Beings Of Leisure

Barry Sonnenfeld (Wild, Wild, West) produced this television series that ran for twelve episodes in the year 2000. The series, while being enjoyable, in all honesty must be considered a flop. There are a few reasons for this. The first is the look of the show. The series is quite light-hearted and the cast provided a few sparks, but the show is filmed in a very cold and sterile manner. The look is predominantly black and blue and it is edited in an overtly digital way. I understand that they were attempting a sort of hi-tech realism, but all it does is de-humanise the characters and proceedings. And the editing ruins the flow of any action sequences. Rather than our hero (or heroes) being able to land a clean punch on a villains chin, he is rendered impotent by the chopping up and distortion of his movements.

The next weakness, and this is probably a budget restraint, is that the globe-trotting in the show in all fairly non-descript. One location or country seem the same as the last. When the team are sent on a mission to Paris, the locations seem exactly the same as a mission in New York. Isn’t one of the joys of watching a globe-trotting agent, is watching him (or her) in exotic places with beautiful people? Secret Agent Man never strikes me with the tourist bug.

That’s the negatives. Let’s look at a few positives. Firstly the cast. Our hero is Jason Monk, played by Australian actor Costas Mandylor. Mandylor plays Monk as a smart arse. He stops short of arching an eyebrow, but certainly plays up the sexist and un-PC aspects of his character. It helps that his character is a classic womanising secret agent in the sixties mould. Mandylor is quite good, but probably isn’t everybody’s idea of the square jawed espionage hero.

Monk rarely gets to work alone. His partner is Holliday played by Dina Myer. She is every bit Monk’s equal and knows it, but is reduced to being second banana because she is a woman. The sexism in the screenplay is deliberate and played for all it is worth. The relationship and gamesmanship between Monk and Halliday does occasionally dip into American sitcom territory. I would suggest, had the series continued, by season four that Monk and Halliday would have been married

The next member of the team is Davis (Dondre T Whitfield). He is the gadget master and technical whiz on the team. On occasions, in certain episodes, he comes to the fore and becomes a fully-fledged field agent, but generally his appearances are barely more than cameos. At times he tends to be almost like David Ketchum as Agent 13 in Get Smart. He didn’t exactly hide in garbage bins and mailboxes, but did turn up unexpectedly, offer a witticism and some advice and them disappear without a trace. The performance by Whitfield is likeable but he rarely has enough to do.

And finally there is Paul Guilfoyle as Brubeck, the US head of the organization. He is an interesting and refreshing change to the usual, crusty ‘M’ type. He is flippant and snide towards his agents, and adversaries for that matter. But he can afford to be, as he has complete faith in his agents and a confidence that everything will work out fine. He doesn’t seem to be under any pressure at all, despite the diabolical situation the organization is facing.

From Prima With Love is the first episode in the twelve episode series. Even though the action begins from the first scenes, this series is a slow starter due to the lack of characterisation. The show opens at the Walter Reed Army Hospital. A man is rushed into the secured medical wing for emergency surgery after a gunshot wound to the chest. As the medical staff attempt to save the man, outside on the perimeter, behind a high wire fence, a young man assembles a large gun. He then fires the weapon through the fence at the hospital building. The gun does not fire bullets, rockets or grenades, but an electro magnetic pulse (EMP). This pulse renders all electrical and electronic equipment useless. The doctors cannot operate in the dark without equipment. The man dies.

At an un-named intelligence agency, Chief Brubeck and Davis are in a flap. They have been trying to develop a portable, directional EMP weapon for years, but it seems like the bad guys have beaten them to it. The only problem is they don’t know who the bad guys are. Therefore, the organisation needs it’s best man on the job. That happens to be Jason Monk, and currently he is on leave. In fact, he is on a date and doesn’t welcome the intrusion. The intrusion, however is not from his organisation – they can’t find him – it’s from an enemy agent named Prima. She wants to defect.

Prima used to work for an evil organisation called Trinity. She tells Monk that they are the ones who have developed the EMP weapon. But Trinity aren’t the type of outfit that you can simply walk away from and they send agents to kill Prima. When this fails, Trinity raises that stakes – unless Prima is returned to them, they will use the EMP weapon on public targets like Heathrow Airport or in the Paris tunnel.

Despite this being the first episode in the series, the show starts like all the characters are old friends. There is no attempt to introduce the characters, and only through watching the show does a picture slowly emerge of who they are – what they do, and whose side they are on. Obviously, this coldness dissipates as the series progresses (or more correctly, you view more episodes from the series) – but it is still a hurdle to cross in this first episode.

In the end Secret Agent Man is entertaining but not quite serious or hi-tech enough to compete with shows like Alias or La Femme Nikita. It also doesn’t have the budget or the gloss to be a modern day equivalent of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. or I Spy. What you have is a series that has its heart in the right place but didn’t strike the right balance of espionage ingredient to be a qualified success.

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Fantomas Strikes Back Trailer

Posted on Youtube by aboyantz.

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Fantomas Strikes Back (1966)

Country: France / Italy
Director: Andre Hunebelle
Starring: Jean Marais, Louis De Funes, Mylene Demongeot, Jacques Dynam, Christian Toma, Michel Duplaix
Music: Michel Magne

The man with the blue head is back! Fantomas Strikes Back is the second film in Andre Hunebelle’s 1960′s revival of the Fantomas character. The film is more comedic than it’s predessesor, and Louis De Funes pulls out all the stops as he mugs his way through the film. If you don’t enjoy De Funes prat falls then you won’t enjoy this film at all. The film opens with an animated sequence which recounts the events in the first Fantomas movie. For those that don’t remember, Fantomas escaped in a submarine. This film opens with an award ceremony. Inspector Juve (Louis De Funes) is presented with the ‘Knight Of The Legion Of Honour’. The award is in recognition of how he thwarted arch criminal, Fantomas, a year ago. Juve makes a speech suggesting that Fantomsa is gone forever. Almost on cue, Juve then receives a telegram. It is from Fantoms congratulating him on his award – and on the flip side, another message says ‘See you soon!’

But there are reasons why Fantomas (Jean Marais) didn’t attend the ceremony personally. He had other affairs to attend to. These involve Professor Marchand who is working on a telepathic ray at a scientific research centre. Fantomas breaks into the centre and kidnaps the Professor.

Newspaper journalist, Fandor (Jean Marais) reports that the kidnapping is the work of Fantomas. As Fantomas hasn’t been seen in over a year, nobody believes him. Juve believes that Fandor is trying to humiliate him after receiving the award. On a current affairs television program, Juve refutes Fandor’s claims. But during the report, Fantomas cuts in with a pirate TV broadcast. He admits to kidnapping Professor Marchand and with the Professor’s help he has perfected a ghastly new weapon with which he plans to hold the world to ransom.

When the television returns to it’s normal broadcast, it shows Juve and his interviewer bound and gagged in their seats. After the televised humiliation, Juve adopts new methods to catch Fantomas. Taking a leaf from the James Bond textbook, Juve starts utilising a string of silly gadgets.

One of Professor Marchand’s colleagues, Professor Lefevre (also Jean Marais) holds a press conference to explain the experiments that he and Marchand had been working on. It is a hypnotic, telepathic ray, which could control thoughts and send orders remotely. Lefevre suggests the Marchand and Fantomas cannot finish the ray without the work that he has been completing. Lefevre foolishly thinks that this means that Fantomas’ threat is hollow, but when in reality he has just set himself as a target.

But Fandor has an idea. He prepares a disguise to make himself look like Professor Levre. That way, when Fantomas makes an attempt to kidnap Lefevre, he will in fact kidanp the wrong man.

Lefevre is scheduled to attend a scientific conference in Rome and Fandor takes his place on board the train. Juve also believes that Fantomas will attempt to kidnap the Professor, so he also boards the train wearing a silly disguise. But Juve is unaware of Fandor’s plan and the two men continually but heads as the story unfolds.

Gadgets abound in this film, with false arms and legs, and cigars that fire bullets. The piece-de-resistance is Fantomas’ car plane idea would be recycled in the James Bond film, The Man With The Golden Gun, made nine years later. This isn’t the only sequence that recalls a scene in a future Bond film. The climax of the film features a parachute-less free fall from an aircraft. This sequence is re-used in the pre-title sequence in Moonraker. It seems ironic, that a film that is in itself has become a gentle parody of the Bond films, would in turn inspire sequences in the film series it was immitating.

Jean Marais’ performance is somewhat muted in this film, by the multiple characters he has to play. He may have equal screen time as De Funes, but it seems like so much less, because one minute he is Fandor, the next he is Fantomas, and then he is Lefevre (or Fandor pretending to be Lefevre).

Fantomas Strikes Back is a very entertaining film, but the Fantomas character is not as menacing as the first film in the trilogy. Although Fantomas threatens Fandor, Juve and Helene (Fandor’s love interest), you sort of get the feeling that he actually likes them.

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Terror Of The Tongs (1961)

AKA: The Terror Of The Hatchet Men
Director: Anthony Bushell
Starring: Geoffrey Toone, Christopher Lee, Yvonne Monlaur, Brian Worth, Richard Leech, Marne Maitland, Barbara Brown, Marie Burke, Burt Kwouk, Roger Delgado, Milton Reid, Bandana Das Gupta
Music: James Bernard

Burt Kwouk must be one of the most successful jobbing actors of the last half century. Since the late 1950’s, whenever a British film production or television show needed an oriental character, Burt Kwouk was the go-to man. Very often he would re-appear in television shows, like The Saint, The Avengers, Danger Man, and Callan as different characters because he was never a household name and nobody knew who he was. The closest he came to fame and recognition is as Cato Fong, Inspector Clouseau’s manservant in the Pink Panther movies. If you look at a list of movies that he has appeared in, you’ll be staggered by the shear amount of productions he has been in. However, being oriental usually meant that Kwouk had to play evil scheming characters. Some people may say that Dr. Fu Manchu was the epitome of Asian menace, or the so called ‘yellow-peril’. I disagree. Fu Manchu was usually played by a Caucasian actor (like Christopher Lee) with eye-pieces applied. Burt Kwouk was the real thing. Having said all that, The Terror Of The Tongs is unusual in that Burt Kwouk plays a good guy.

In the film, Kwouk plays Mr. Ming, an operative for an un-named organisation that is attempting to stamp out the Red Dragon Tong in Hong Kong. The Red Dragon Tong is a secret society that preys on the the people of Hong Kong. They extort money from shopkeepers and run gambling and opium dens, as well as brothels. Mr. Ming is on a steamer captained by Jackson Sale (Geoffrey Toone) as it sails into Hong Kong Harbour. Ming is carrying a list of all the Red Dragon Tong members. With this information he intends to stop the Tong once and for all. But Ming suspects that the Tong will try and stop him, so he secrets the list into the cover of a book of Chinese verse and gives it to Captain Sale as a gift for his daughter. The Captain gratefully accepts the gift.

Once in port, Ming is right. The Tong are waiting for him, and an assassin armed with a hatchet attacks Ming on the dock. Ming shoots his attacker three times but thins doesn’t stop the assassin who delivers a mortal blow to Ming.

The Tong arrange to claim Ming’s body and possessions but are dismayed to find that the list Ming was supposed to be carrying is nowhere to be found. The leader of the Tong, Chung King (Christopher Lee – with eye-pieces applied) surmises that Ming must have passed the list onto one of the officers on the ship, and orders that anyone who comes into contact with the list must be killed.

Captain Sale returns home to his daughter, Helena (Barabara Brown) and his housekeeper Anna (Bandana Das Gupta). Sale gives his daughter the book with the list hidden inside. Anna, the housekeeper is actually Ming’s contact in Hong Kong, and secretly she retrieves the list. But the Tong follow the trail. They start at Sales Steamer, where they find nothing, and then come to Sale’s home. Sale isn’t in the house at that time, but Helena is. The Tong’s, following their orders to kill anyone who comes in contact with the list, do just that. They kill Helena.

After the death of his daughter, Sale goes on a rampage, determined to expose the secret Tong society and find his daughter’s killer.

The Terror Of The Tongs is a Hammer production written by Jimmy Sangster and provides all the action and intrigue you’d expect from a film of this vintage. It is somewhat studio bound, but this allows the film-makers to control the colour and lighting (and it’s cheaper than filming on location in Hong Kong). Put simply, the film looks fabulous (especially the new widescreen transfers available on DVD). But is it a spy film? Well there are hints of espionage, but they are never really fleshed out. We don’t know who the good guys really are. They could be Interpol, maybe even the police – we never know. If it is a spy film, it’s a cusp spy film and not essential viewing for espionage fans.

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The Castle Of Fu Manchu (1969)

Director: Jess Franco
Starring: Christopher Lee, Tsai Chin, Maria Perschy, Howard Marion-Crawford, Gunther Stoll, Rosalba Neri, Jose Manuel Martin, Richard Green
Music: Charles Camilleri
Based on characters created by Sax Rohmer

A bit more mayhem from the ‘most evil man on earth’. The Castle Of Fu Manchu is the fifth, final and weakest of the Harry Alan Towers series of Fu Manchu films. Like the previous film, The Blood Of Fu Manchu, this film is directed by the inimatable Jess Franco. Even with Franco’s skewed imput, this film is thin, and the budgetary restraints are obvious. The film starts with borrowed footage from A Night To Remember, and then recycles footage from The Brides Of Fu Manchu. This results in the sinking of the Titanic again, and the destruction of Fu Manchu’s secret lair once again. But this cobbled together intro is in fact, Fu Manchu’s demonstration of his newest weapon. Here he shows the world he can control the oceans of the world. In fact, it is not meant to be the Titanic. It is another cruise liner sailing the tropical seas of the Carribean. Fu Manchu has created icebergs in the Carribean, and of course, the ship hits the iceberg and sinks. But you guessed that, didn’t you!

Nayland Smith of Scotland Yard (Richard Green) and his old pal Doctor Petrie (Howard Marion-Crawford) are holidaying in scotland while Fu Manchu’s evil scheme is played out. But their holiday is cut short when a message from the Home Office orders them back to London at once.

Back in London, Homeland Security have been receiving reoccuring radio messages from Fu Manchu. He says, ‘In the Carribean I gave a demonstration of the new and destructive weapon I possess!’ Fu Manchu threatens to strike again in fourteen days unless the heads of the major powers agree to his demands. In his transmission, Fu doesn’t actually say what his demands are; only that the leaders are to agree to them. But as Fu Manchu has proven himself to have a megalomaniacal streak in the past four films, it’s fair enough to assume his price tag would be steep.

The intro sequence to this film also showed the destruction of Fu Manchu’s secret lair, so he needs a new one. And for his weapon to work he needs two things – large amounts of water – and the other is large quantities of opium. Apparently the opium is somehow transformed into ice crystals and this creates the icebergs, or some other such mumbo-jumbo. To be honest, the ‘science’ in this film is pretty flakey. So ‘water’ and ‘opium’ are Fu’s requirements, and it just so happens that these items are in plentiful supply in Anatolia in Turkey. To make this a reality, Fu Manchu’s evil daughter, Lin Tang (Tsai Chin) meets with a local Turkish ganglord and opium dealer, Omar Pasher. Together thay form an alliance and plot to storm the Govenor of Anatolia’s castle.

The incursion works like clockwork. Pasher’s men kill the guards at the main gates to the castle, and then Fu Manchu’s army of evil minions do the rest. Fu Manchu has a new base of operations, but he needs one man to bring his reign of terror to fruition. He is Professor Herades. Fu Manchu has Herades already held prisoner, but Herades has a terminal heart condition which limits his usefulness.

Meanwhile, back in England, Nayland Smith and petrie begin to nut together the piece’s of Fu Manchu’s scheme and deduce that he must be hiding out in Turkey.

Richard Green is Nayland Smith once again, and thanfully he gets a litle more to do in this film than he did in The Blood Of Fu Manchu. But the Franco films concentrate far more on Fu Manchu than any one of the good guys. Christopher Lee phones through another acceptable performance, but he isn’t really stretching himself. Rosalba Neri has a flashy role as Omar Pasher’s number one minion. In the film, she gets to wear some unusal striped suits and hats.

At the start of the review, I mentioned that this film was directed by Jess Franco. Most fans of B-grade or cult cinema will be familiar with his work. But The Castle Of Fu Manchu, while having a few small Franco touches isn’t really indicative of his work.

This film is pretty bad. Franco tries hard to do what he can to cobble together a decent story but there is way too much padding. There is one sequence which is almost laughable in it’s attempt to create tension with no budget. Fu Manchu and an assortment of characters stare at a room full of bubbling test tubes and beakers ans shout out warnings. But the test tubes look the same from one scene to the next. It doesn’t look like things are heating up. But the scene is well edited – there simply wasn’t an adequate budget to provide some convincing scientific equipment or sets.

The film is really is the nadir of the series. It’s hard to go down further when you’re already beyond the bottom of the barrel. It’s not surprising that no further films were made in the series.

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The Vengeance Of Fu Manchu (1967)

Director: Jeremy Summers
Starring: Christopher Lee, Douglas Wilmer, Tsai Chin, Horst Frank, Noel Trevarthen, Tony Ferrer, Maria Rohm, Howard Marion-Crawford, Peter Carsten, Wolfgang Kieling, Susanne Roquette
Music: Malcolm Lockyer
Songs: ‘The Real Me’ and ‘Where Are the Men’ sung by Samantha Jones (Lyrics by Don Black)
Based on characters created by Sax Rohmer

The Vengeance Of Fu Manchu is not a spy film, but it does feature an evil mastermind attempting to take over the world. There’s also a nice subplot about the birth of ‘Interpol’. This is the third in the Harry Alan Towers produced, Fu Manchu series. With each installment, the quality of the series dropped considerably and the film has some long protracted moments where not too much happens.

Douglas Wilmer once again plays Fu Manchu’s Nemesis Nayland Smith, which he did previously in The Brides Of Fu Manchu. Wilmer is adequate in the role, displaying a squared jawed heroic countenance, but he doesn’t have the screen presence of Nigel Greene who played the character in the first film.

Of course, you can’t talk about a Fu Manchu film without talking about horror icon, Christopher Lee. By this film in the series Lee looks quite bored by the role. He isn’t given too much to say. He simply has to glower and nod his his head and his evil minions do the work for him. I guess it is in keeping with the character, but it isn’t particularly a stretch for Lee.

The film begins in the Quang-Su Provence in Northern China, and along a winding mountain track a small caravan of men make there way to a hidden fortress. Riding in comfort in two carriages, carried by their evil minions are the most evil man on earth, Fu Manchu and his equally vicious daughter Lin Tang (Tsai Chin).

Once at the fortress, Fu Manchu has all the paths and roadways dynamited, cutting off the outside world, so he can formulate his his attempt to take over the world in relative peace.

In London, Commissioner Nayland Smith of Scotland yard is planning a trip to Paris. He is meeting with other Police Chiefs in order to set up a new organisation designed to battle International Crime. This new organisation is to be called ‘Interpol’. At this meeting is a young FBI agent, Mark Weston (Noel Trevarthen). He reports that the crime gangs of America have selected a man named Rudolph Moss (Horst Frank) to be their new ambassador and seek out a new ‘Head’ of global crime. You’ve got to remember here, that everybody thinks that Fu Manchu is still dead. he died at the end of the last film. So the FBI and Interpol don’t know who this new ‘Head’ will be. Of course, we viewers know it is going to be Fu.

Meanwhile back in China, Fu Manchu is putting his latest plan into operation. Firstly he kidnaps Dr. Lieberson (Wolfgang Kieling) and his daughter, Maria (Susanne Roquette) from a nearby village. Lieberson initially refuses to work for Fu Manchu, so his daughter is tortured. Soon after the Doctor relents. The Doctor’s mission is to transform one of Fu Manchu’s Asian minions into a Caucasian likeness of Nayland Smith. And Fu instructs that this must be done in forty-eight hours. I think a modern day plastic surgeon would have trouble completing that task, let alone a Doctor in a remote village in Northern China. But who knows, maybe the Doctor is really a ‘Super Doctor’ who really believes in doing humanitarian work, rather than living at the cutting edge of medical science. I know, it’s silly of me to pick on the medical and scientific plot devices in a Fu manchu film. But I cannot help it. Regardless, the Doctor, fearing for his daughter’s life, agrees to transform Fu Manchu’s mindless killer into Nayland Smith.

Interpol are busy tracking down Rudolph Moss. It seems he was bound for Shanghai on a ship called the Orient Star. Interpol wires Inspector Ramos (Tony Ferrer) of the Shanghai police Department. Ramos intercepts the ship but he is too late. Moss has alreadt disembarked and his heading across country to meet Fu Manchu.

Meanwhile, Nayland Smith and his close friend, Dr. Petrie (Howard Marion-Crawford) are off on holiday in Ireland. On a rural track, their car runs out of petrol. luckily a car comes along and Petrie hitches a lift into the nearlest village to fill up a can of fuel. By the time Petrie returns, Nayland Smith has been kidnapped and Doctor lieberson’s psycotic double has been put in his place. The real Nayland Smith is bound and gaged and sealed in a wooden crate bound for Shanghai.

I don’t rate this entry in the Fu Manchu series very highly, but it does have a few points of interest. Firstly, this film was a co-production with Hong Kong’s Shaw Studios, which means it has a slightly different flavour to the other entries in the series. It also stars Tony Ferrer, who plays Inspector Ramos. Ferrer was a big star in the Philippines. One of his higher profile series were the Tony Falcon films made in the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s.

In the end though, despite the International intervention in the series, this film is a step down from previous films, and it really should have been the end of the series. But the series kicked on for another two films, each with a diminishing budget, and helmed by Jess Franco. But that’s another story.

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Kilink In Istanbul (1967)

AKA: Kilink Istanbul’da
Country: Turkey
Directed by Yilmaz Atadeniz
Yildiram Gencer, Irfan Atasoy, Pervin Par, Suzan Avci, Muzaffer Tema, Mine Soley
Music by John Barry, Jerry Goldsmith and many others (most likely without permission)

Though not spy films, the Kilink films have quickly risen to the top of the B-grade cult film world. They are wild and crazy and break every law of film-making – in places they are downright amateurish – but their sheer exuberance drives them along and makes them worthwhile and entertaining viewing.

The Kilink films were a popular Turkish film series from the late sixties. There were eleven films in the series, but conservation was never a high priority to the Turkish film industry. Now only three of the films survive, albeit in a beaten and scratched condition. But even is this abused state, these films are worth seeing.

Of the three films that remain, Kilink In Instanbul is the first in the series. The film starts with a funeral cortége traveling to a secruded house in Istanbul. The coffin is taken from the hearse into the house and the lid is removed. Inside is a body wrapped in bandages. A lady in a big hat injects a big needle into the inert body. Slowly the corpse awakens. The minions gathered around begin to unwrap the bandages. Underneath is Kilink. Kilink wears an all-over black body and mask with the visage of a skeleton painted on. He’s much like the Italian character ‘Kriminal’ and with good reason – Kilink is Turkish cinema’s take on the character. Although Turkish film-makers never bothered about little things like obtaining rights or licences for copyrighted properties. The simply took what they wanted and twisted it to their own ends. It was not just characters that they pilfered either. The musical score for Kilink In Istanbul makes liberal use of music from the James Bond series (particularly You Only Live Twice) and assorted ganster and horror films. There’s even a grab from Our Man Flint.

No sooner is Kilink back from the dead and he’s already up to a bit of skulduggery. Professor Houloussi is working on a top secret project that will rid the world of cancer. Somehow this same formula can be used to create a powerful weapon, with which Kilink plans to use to control the world. Kilink sneaks into the Professor’s home and kills one of the staff. Then dressed as the man he has killed, Kilink sneaks into Professor Houloussi’s lab and emands the formula. The Professor refuses to give it up, and for his trouble he is killed. Kilink riffles through the safe and retrieves the formula. Before he leaves, however he scrawls his name in blood beside the dead Professor, so everybody will know who committed the crime.
Kilink returns to his secret lair and orders another chemist to create the formula using Houloussi’s notes. Upon examination it is ascertained that the formula is incomplete. Kilink isn’t happy.

Meanwhile, the son of Professor Houloussi, Orhan is standing at his father’s grave swearing to avenge his father. But he does not know how to go up against somebody as powerful and evil as Kilink. Suddenly in a puff of smoke, a majestic bearded figure appears graveside. He tells Orhan not to fear. He is ‘Shazam Boloum – Protector Of Justice’. Shazam offer to help, and gives Orhan the powers of strength and speed. All Orhan has to do is say “Shazam” He tests out his new powers and says the magic word. He is trnsformed into a super hero called ‘Superhero’. He is part Batman, with a cape and a cowl (but no ears); and he’s part Superman with a large ‘S’ on his chest.

Kilink is still after the magic formula and sends his evil minions back to the Professor’s home and laboratory to find the missing portions of the formula. They kill the guards and beat up the women until Orhan gets home. Upon arrival, Orhan cannot turn into his heroic alter ego, so he is given a right proper kicking. Orhan then leads Kilink’s minions to the laboratory. The minions leave him outside alone, which gives him an opportunity to transform. Superhero then rushes into the laboratory and turns the tables on Kilink’s minions. They run off battered and bloodied back to Kilink.

This film is a lot like an old movie serial with cliff hanging moments every fifteen to twenty minutes. In keeping with this, the film ends on a cliff hanger. But fear not – the story continues with Kilink Vs The Flying Man.

One thing is for sure, this film is not slow paced. The story and the beatings keep rocketing along, refusing to allow any characterisation to get in the way. And who really cares if the story elements and characters have been stolen from other sources (well I guess the copyright holders – but I am sure they had no idea what was happening to their intellectual property in Turkey). I guess that the fact that so few of these films has survived tells a lot about how they were viewed at the time. They were light, throwaway entertainment.

As I’ve mentioned the Kilink films are worth seeking out, but they will not appeal to everybody. They are a cult item. After all scratchy, black and white super hero films from Turkey are a niche item. But if that sounds like your cup of tea, then you’ll find a lot to enjoy.

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A Man Called Dagger Trailer

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A Man Called Dagger (1967)

Director: Richard Rush
Starring: Paul Mantee, Terry Moore, Jan Murray, Sue Anne Langdon, Richard Kiel, Eileen O’Neil, Maureen Arthur, Leonard Stone, Mimi Dillard
Music: Steve Allen

Imagine one of the Matt Helm films – only without a charismatic leading man – with only a small portion of the budget – and with worse jokes – and then you’re well on your way to envisaging A Man Called Dagger. Dagger is meant to be lightweight, swinging spy entertainment; but it is not entertaining. You know I have watched some shit in my time, but this film even tested my tolerance levels.

In Paris, Secret Agent Richard “Dick” Dagger (Paul Mantee), wearing an eyepatch, posing as a one eyed Frenchman, is given the details of his next assignment by a miniature tape recorder. Before he can finish listening to the message, he is jumped by a group of thugs. In the struggle he loses his eyepatch, but eventually fights his way out of trouble and to freedom, or so he thinks. As Dagger walks off, one final goon on a rooftop, armed with a tranquiliser gun, shoots Dagger in the back.

As the titles roll, Dagger wakes up, he is in a steel lined room. The room is small, and getting smaller. The roof is slowly lowering. Our hero, extracts a cigarette from his cigarette case and breaks it open to reveal a wire. He attaches one end of the wire to the lightsocket and the other end to the steel door. He then bangs on the door yelling that gives up and he’ll do anything his captures want. A guard opens the door and Dagger twists the light globe, sending a current through the wire, electrocuting the guard. Dagger is free. And that is the end of the title sequence, and sadly the end of any creative thought going into this movie.

Dagger’s new mission is in the United States, so he boards the next plane. Also on the plane is Dagger’s target, Dr Karl Rayner (Leonard Stone), who is a Nazi biologist. By ‘target’, I don’t mean that Dagger has to kill him, but simply follow him. The man that his organisation is after is Rudolph Koffman (Jan Murray), who just so happens to be Rayner’s new employer.

In the U.S., Rayner is met at the airport by Koffman’s number one henchman, Otto (Richard Kiel). Dagger too, is met by a contact named Melissa. Melissa is a sprightly female agent who leads Dagger to a hot rod roadster. As inconspicuous as you can be in a hot rod, they tail Rayner and Otto.

Somehow, though, Rayner and Otto must have lost their tail, because we next see Rayner standing before Koffman. Koffman poses as a respectable businessman who runs a meat packing plant. The plant is heavily guarded because they are working on new top secret product lines. But in reality, the plant is used as a base for Koffman’s mind control experiments. Ultimately he plans to take over the world, by brainwashing the world’s leaders. But here, he is perfecting his technique by experimenting on young girls.

A Man Called Dagger is supposed to be a comedy, or at least I think so. But the film just rubbed me the wrong way. Koffman’s solution to disposing of the bodies off his scientific failures, is repellent in the extreme. One minute the film is winking at the audience, the next it is trying to shock it. Maybe with a quality acting ensemble in front of the camera, the film could have pulled off this two card trick, but with the amateurish talent on display here, the film never really stands a chance of winning over any audience.

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