Tuesday, July 19, 2011

James Band 007 (1980)

I knew instantly needed to own James Band 007 when I saw the awesome poster somewhere on the internet. Luckily for me, Ethaicd had a couple of copies left on VCD and I ordered it directly. And after I saw it I found an original poster for it on eBay, but that’s a whole other story. First of all, I love Bond parodies, rip-offs and homages from all over the world. Thailand had a couple of films similar to Bond since earlier, and even Jao Insee, on of Chaibancha’s Red Eagle films feels a lot like a Bond film. But James Band was obviously not just a rip-off, but a pure parody with everything a “real” Bond movie should have.

Thai comedian Thep Thienchai, famous for his less than beautiful face an toothless grin, plays a lazy tourist chauffeur, driving one of those rickshaw-style bicycle vehicles in Pattaya. One day the Thai James Bond hires him to take him somewhere nearby, but it’s upwards all the way and Thep just can’t drive fast enough – which the bad guys use and kills Bond! Well, before he dies he gives Thep his briefcase with gadgets and whispers to him to continue the mission and save the world. He quickly takes over the role of super-agent and somehow fools everyone that he’s the real Bond! One girl is convinced he has a rubbermask on, but fails to rip of his face! On an island sits this movie’s Dr Evil, played by veteran comedian Lor Tok, with his two stupid robots – R2D2 and C3PO! Yes, the Star Wars characters! He also has a lot of henchmen, one of them the legendary Pipop Pupinyo (which is famous for his bald head and big moustache). Will Thep succeed, or will Dr Evil use his death ray against more airplanes in the sky?

James Band 007 is a cheap and crude parody, but is surprisingly funny – even without subtitles! Shot in a Pattaya not destroyed by tourists, it has plenty of beautiful locations, fancy hotel rooms and chases and fights all over the place. With a budget being quite low the movie relies a lot on the presence of Thep Thienchai, whose rubber face was a popular sight in Thailand for many years. He died in 1994. With the comedy much being physical there’s also a lot of funny situations. My favourite is the lizard-head Thep wears on top of his head when he’s swimming ashore on the island. Clearly a nod to Goldfinger were Bond has a bird on his head, but this time the animal won’t stay quiet and Thep is finally forced to bury it under sand and rocks to stop it from revealing his presence!

The robots are another very odd detail with the film. Build with more primitive materials than the original, and also very stupid and the R2D2 also seem a bit to horny! They also have a tendency to get into fights with each other, or just behaving very badly – much to the annoyance of Lor Tok! James Band 007 also takes a nasty turn when he’s so warm in the 007 clothes that he starts to kill the bad guys, with knife and gun and once – poor Pipop – with crushing a head! It’s not really bloody, but way more violent than other comedies I’ve seen that spoofs James Bond.

The soundtrack is filled with stolen tracks from a lot of Bond films and also has a more pop-ish, disco-esque version of the Star Wars theme! I don’t think there’s any original music in the whole movie, which only makes it even more entertaining.

James Band 007 is a colourful, funny and totally mad comedy which still works great! I would love to see a DVD release someday, not that the VCD is bad – it’s very good – but I would like to see it in even better quality!

(Thanks Chanchana for the screenshots!)


bruce holecheck said...

This looks amazing! Congrats on digging up yet another film for me to add to my want list...

Tars Tarkas said...

This film is awesome, I bought it from eThaicd based on the cover alone, it wasn't until I owned it that I noticed R2 and C3PO, but I thought it was just the artist being funny. Little did I know...

And it's a great film as well! James Band 007 deserves a cult status in the West.

Ninja Dixon said...

Bruce, let me know when you've seen it! Can't wait to hear your opinion!

Tars Tarkas, I was surprise how many times I laughed at the comedy. Very solid flick. If I find the rights to it I will try to release it on proper dvd and with subtitles!