Monday, January 11, 2010

Five Golden Dragons (1967)

Harry Alan Towers was a genius. I've never been bored watching a Harry-movie. Sometimes they've been bad, but still entertaining and good quality. Five Golden Dragons is a very charming and witty thriller set in Hong Kong, and who deserves much more attention. But first, the best joke in the movie:

- You are a dragon, aren't you?
- It's not only dragon, I think it's broken!

Well, it's actually funny, but if you don't laugh you just don't understand the genius of Robert Cummings. Here was close to sixty, but looks like... forty with a face like fortyfive and a body like thirty. And he moves like he's twentyfive! I haven't seen much of Mr Cummings, only his work with Hitchcock - but I never expected him to be so funny! Sure, many of the jokes are corny and silly - but the timing, there's the magic with this guy.

Okey, the story. A fat guy name Gert (which must be short for Gertrud, jokes Cummings at one point) arrives at Hong Kong but is followed instantly by Klaus Kinski! I would be scared if Kinski followed me, especially when it ends with cruel, brutal death! But before Gert dies he leaves a note to the taxidriver, a letter to Mr Bob Mitchell at a luxery hotel in Hong Kong. Bob (Cummings of course) have no idea what this is, but when he finally reads the letter - the only text is "Five Golden Dragons" - he get's involved in a conspiracy of murder, women and a secret society of master criminals!

I don't want to tell you more, because this was a much funnier and smarter (well, kinda...) movie than I thought it would be. The locations are wonderful, and they're shot with the assistance of Shaw Brothers. Roy Chiao, a great character actor in many Hong Kong movies, plays a quite big role as a police officer and in cameos we have both George Raft and Christopher Lee! For those who enjoy ladies we have Margaret Lee, Maria Rohm and Maria Perschy! The script, written by Towers under his alias Peter Welbeck, is never boring and the twists are great. I'm not sure, but a lot of the visual jokes from Cummings is probably improvised and I'm sure there's dialogue that's ad-libbed.

But the main reason to watch this movie is Robert Cummings. The guy's a blast and with the wrong actor in this role the comedy would be terrible. But it's not, thank's to destiny, Towers and whatever reason Robert was cast.

The DVD I have is a very nice Italian disc, anamorphic widescreen, nice colors and sharpness, very little print damage and Italian and English language tracks. Recommended!


Samuel Wilson said...

It definitely looks like a once-in-a-lifetime cast, and that's with Kinski not even getting billing on the poster. I remember Cummings having a rep for preternatural fitness even into the 1980s, so I believe you about him. I'm going to have to see this someday.

Ninja Dixon said...

It's a wonderful cast! I wonder if they shot the cameos in Hong Kong too, or in some studio in the UK or Germany?

I always enjoyed there movies where they just didn't about people on the street, they just go out and shoot the scenes without trying to close the street or anything. Even if people look in the camera, it still gives a more realistic feeling.