Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Three Films Make A Post: The girls do exactly what you think they do!

Female Chivalry (1975): This Taiwanese martial arts comedy directed by Yeung Jing-Chan is mostly playing the cheap variation of its genre by the book. It's still more entertaining than I'd have expected thanks to Chia Ling's (you may knows her as Judy Lee) performance: she kicks people around with great conviction, she smirks as if her character knew she were a nameless roguish heroine in a silly martial arts movie and approved of that particular lot in life, and she looks pretty smashing in men's clothing. That's more than enough to not only carry the film but drag it up a notch or three in quality and win my heart for ninety minutes.

Der Tod im Roten Jaguar (1968) aka Death in the Red Jaguar: There's a minor series of films based on German "Heftroman" (which are a little like post-war pulps, but different in ways generally making them inferior - I'll explain someday, if I ever find a more interesting film based on one) hero Jerry Cotten (in the movies played by the sleeping pill medicine knows as George Nader), working for an FBI that has as little to do with the original as the German Edgar Wallace movie adaptation Scotland Yard has with the real one. Cotten's adventures usually take place in a not-New York that's unreal in similar, yet less interesting, ways to the Wallace movies not-London; Der Tod mostly takes place in not-San Francisco.

Despite being directed by Harald Reinl who was generally pretty great at pulpy thrills, Der Tod contains a bit too much of the typical provincial stink of German genre film, and way too little that could lead to actual excitement. In fact, watching the film, one can't help but think the film is actively trying not to be too exciting, or weird, or funny, instead aiming for the boring middle ground for no discernible reason beyond the idea that a good German bourgeois is in love with the concept of the "middle ground".

Vessel (2012): This little SF/horror movie directed by Clark Baker, on the other hand, packs more excitement into its thirteen minute running time than can be found in a whole Cotten movie. Clearly, you can still use airplanes and tentacular aliens and a certain Twilight Zone episode for good.


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