I Saw A Film!
I’m pretty sure this is the one was recommended by my friend Jun. No? Are you sure? Really?
Shirley Eaton in the titular role, along with Frankie Avalon and George Nader! The great and often bizarre Klaus Kinski is here too!
Back in the day, if you were going to do something with some titillating BDSM in it, this is basically the plot you needed to pitch. An evil Bond-esque villainess bent on world domination with her ladies. It’s hard not to enjoy the heck out of this kind of farce. Sumuru’s army is stationed in Hong Kong (And much of the film was shot at the famous Shaw Brothers Studios!). The film is a popular a gender struggle. Women fighting men, and not just powerful men with wealth, prestige and influence but any random men. One sequence has a pair of her “slaves” (yes her henchwomen helpers are literally called “slaves”) motor up to a couple of sorry-ass fellows fishing and toss a grenade in on them. It’s gonna be a long haul trying to take power from men one at a time, starting at the bottom!
Soon enough of course, we’re introduced to our intrepid heroes played by Nader (of Robot Monster and many other bad bad things) and Frankie Avalon (he of shockingly perfect hair) who is supposed to be British faking an American accent. That’s the level of comedy we’re playing with. And while this sorta plays like a comedy, the violence is meant to be real enough. Still when our boys find a dead girl in their hotel bed it’s played for hilarity!
Another grand Hollywood tradition is to have this film about women taking power from men by force, starring just one real lead lady. And though the lead lady is meant to be East Asian she’s played by a blonde, occidental bombshell. They just have her wear a wig and do that cute thing with the angled eye makeup. Sure there are some East Asians screaming and jumping off boats and getting shot up, but the main focus of the film is unsurprisingly white as snow. And while I’m beating up on the famous racism and sexism inherent in so many old movies enter Klaus Kinski (one of my favorite creepy actors who did amazing work with Herzog) as none other than the “President of Hong Kong” Boong. Boong? Kinski’s pallor is downright green, and I suspect they were attempting to have him play in yellow-face, but since Kinski is already some odd-colored pallor, the overall effect is Alien. Very alien, like a jaundiced Martian. I think they were also meaning to have him play a slapstick gay part, but it is just so clumsy and oddball your jaw will just hang open in disbelief.
Sumuru’s hit squad is after Boong, and though they spend a lot of time switching their clothing and drowning their sister members who dare to fall-in-love (no falling in love! It is treason!) most of the film is basically cameras on pretty ladies’ midriffs and framing shots through their bare legs. It turns out even in an all woman-empowering organization they actually choose to conduct their missions in dresses and heels. And they choose to have a feudal system, no doubt. And they choose to be “slaves”. You go girls! Oh, and by the way, this is 1967 all women are girls. Girls has not yet become the vilified term of heinous power. These girls mean business though, make no mistake, while they leg-strangle men in living-room gladiatorial games over cocktails—serious business! Like I said, Hollywood BDSM fantasy. All the while Sumuru is yakking about the world of peace that all this killing will bring about.
All of this bringing questions to our minds. What is the meaning of feminism? And how do these demented world-dominating villains manage to get so many devoted followers when they witness so much violence perpetrated against themselves by their own organization? Is there a great 401K plan? Is it like university where pregnant ladies get in and use the amazingly cheap University insurance to have babies? One wonders what it is that Sumuru offers when she recruits. We’re actually given a sequence of a new blonde recruit. Sumuru says “She’s young, she’s pretty, and I say she’s in.” and at that the woman is stripped and accepted. That sounds like a likely women’s organization initiation to me!
Many of the scenes of women torturing the guys in chains and cages look remarkably like the covers of some old men’s magazines from the forties and fifties, where you might see these big blondes in Nazi regalia sneering at a poor dope getting whipped or stepped on. Of course, later when you grow up and you understand what BDSM actually is and the facts of role-play and trust are understood this all just looks like someone airing their hopes and dreams for playtime. This comes up now and again because Bondage and Discipline stuff has long been fringe sexual play (though in recent times getting more air with schlock like 50 Shades of Gray). But since not a lick of sex actually goes on they can get away with it really being about good triumphing over evil!
Most folks are kind of child-like about these sorts of activities and movies like this just end up looking like weird versions of those old prime time gender based sports challenges, where a portly Dick Van Patten gets his ass whipped by Farah in a tennis match. You get the idea. The prurient role play also creates a feature of the old Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King tennis farce. Where if you didn’t know, Riggs threw the game because he was a tennis huckster who loved betting and making money through his sport. He’d just crushed the number one lady champion a few months before (whose name was Courts), but it made no money! So he threw the game to the number two player—BJK—because he realized (Duh!) that that’s what people wanted to see. And he’s been right for decades now. People still think that thing was real! Decades ago The Rolling Stones got into a bunch of trouble for using a woman in bondage as a promotional for “Black and Blue”. Now, many people are going to balk over anything sexual anyway, but this thing was a crisis of vanillas freaking out because they mistook it for hate. What it really is is hot sexy play. Hey, it’s not for everyone, but nothing is. In the end this leads one to realize that if you aren’t pissing someone off—hopefully someone in the squaresville of power—you aren’t really doing anything.
Frankie gets cornered on a boat by one of the assassins, but just as she’s about to lunge with her knife her high heel gets caught on some ropes and she’s lost overboard! Whew! Not even a hair out of place! Sumuru owns her own island. Hmmm, where have we seen that before? And a very measly invasion is underway to take her down. Now all the actual Asian actors are on display. One of the best things is that her island tech is all brightly colored light bulbs and flip switches for house lights. In the Flint movies the ladieswere attempting to take over the world (see, it was a popular theme) with rockets! Sumuru on the other hand is just planning to take down world leaders, like President Boong and replace with her slaves. Sumuru is oddly conflicted though (oh so human!). Despite her literally killing her own slave girls for their fraternization with the enemy, she fraternizes with Nader, who quips and insults her as much as possible. And in the end he survives because the slaves left to finish him off disobey! Sorry for the spoiler but it brings back that problem again. If you’re going to have henchmen or henchwomen (incidentally, the terms we use today for men and women aren’t created to be derogatory as some deluded feminists might imply. The term for men apparently shoved into and taking over the term for woman, instead they derive from ancient English terms for men and women: weremen and women. The one place we still use “were” is in werewolf! This then means that a “female werewolf” should technically be called a Wowolf.) you’d better be ready to make their devotion worth their while. You can’t just expect them to have your vision of a peaceful world after they’ve given their lives in this one! Especially if you’re counting on them to do your dirty work. And impressing upon them that love and sex have to be abandoned in order for the new world order to survive! Ugh, what’s that old quip, the one about if your revolution doesn’t include dancing . . .?
Free on Prime!