Tuesday, 28 April 2009
Here’s a bit of an oddity from the early career of Woody Allen. The film is almost all a Japanese spy thriller which has been re-dubbed by Allen and others for humorous effect. If that sounds a bit cheap, it is but I certainly had more laughs watching this than I do when I watch most modern films, Allen’s included.
The film opens with a host who briefly introduces Woody and gives us an idea of what to expect. Allen is deadpan throughout and says little, but that was pretty much his shtick then as it is now.
The film is a pretty short 80 minutes and there is a good bit of padding included in that run time. For no apparent reason The Lovin’ Spoonful contribute a couple of song and although they are fine they add nothing to the film and hinder the little narrative flow that there is. According to the IMDb the studio wanted the hour long film boosted to ‘feature’ length so that explains it, but doesn’t excuse it.
The opening scene of the Japanese film is something of a disappointment as it happens in a strip club with all the dancing lady’s interesting bits obscured by text. It’s a couple of minutes before a line is spoken and it seems a waste to start on such a weak gag.
The film is so slow to get going that I almost baled out after ten minutes but things soon pick up once the plot is revealed. Our hero is a spy charged with locating a secret recipe for egg salad. All elements of the underworld are after it too and there are endless shootouts and double crosses. Given that the script has been thrown out it’s hard to work out what’s happening and this is acknowledged half way in when we cut back to the host who asks Allen for a plot summary only to be curtly refused.
The spy film seems pretty high budget and there are some impressive actions sequences and lots of lovely oriental ladies, something that Woody himself revealed a taste for later in life! The gags are all of the same toilet humour variety with idiotic announcements and out bursts of song filling the run time. Other gags include rewinding the film, causing a gang of men to jump of a boat when a mouse is spotted and having an eye test run alongside a stripping lady lest you be looking at the wrong thing.
In truth the film is a bit of a hotch potch but there are enough laughs and eye candy to justify a viewing . I’m only glad this cheap genre never fully took off, well until YouTube of course - have you seen the re-dubbed Hitler being told his X-Box is broken? Classic!
Best Bit : Sexy Grid Iron Team Go Into Battle
‘W’ Rating 15/23