Wednesday, September 7, 2011

H-Bomb (1971)

Together with Kom Akadej, Philip Chalong was probably one of the best and most talented action directors of Thailand. His career contained many co-productions with international stars and better budgets than his colleagues in the same genre. I H-Bomb he had the hot up-and-coming Chris Mitchum, still a few years before his bigger genre hits like Summertime Killer and Ricco. What’s more weird is the presence by Olivia Hussey, still fresh from her sensational role in Franco Zeffirelli Romeo and Juliet. How she ended up in a HK-Thai co-production with Chris Mitchum beats me! More on the cast later, first a few words about the slightly Jamesbondish-storyline…

After witnessing the top CIA agents of the world getting killed in various ways during the pre-credit sequence and finding out that a top secret experimental missile (Alpha) has been stolen, the US sends blond-haired CIA agent Eddie Fulmer (Chris Mitchum) to Thailand to co-operate with the Thai secret service in finding the missile again. Luckily for him his ex-girlfriend, Erica (Olivia Hussey) is the daughter of ruthless businessman Jake Koo (I think he’s played by Kecha Plianvithee) who’s also a suspect in kidnapping the deadly weapon! He’s also working together with the terrorist group Fuji (which suggests that they are Japanese, but nothing more is mentioned about that – expect that they have mount Fuji tattooed on their arm) lead by General Yang (the always bald and evil Pipop Pupinyo). Everything could be an easy match from here, but Zeke (Krung Srivilai), Koo’s henchman is also in love with Erica and this makes him even more destined to kill Eddie!

Even if H-Bomb is a movie co-produced by Shaw Brothers and starring to famous American actors, this is mainly a Thai movie in ever way possible. Krung Srivilai was a big star in his own right, even if he always had a darker streak than for example Mitr Chaibancha or Sorapong Chatree. Co-starring Mitchum’s Thai secret service contact is Phairoj Jaisin, who was one the actors supposed to replace Chaibancha as the big star after the latter’s death in 1970. H-Bomb was probably one of the first movies Jaisin made, a nice start of a long career. General Yang is played by Pipop Pupinyo, who was typecasted as a balded villain in tons of flicks from the seventies and up to the early eighties (for example in Kom Akadej’s The Killer Elephants and comedian Thep Thienchai’s James Band 007.

What strikes me the most with H-Bomb is the ambitious action set-pieces, concentrating on very impressive car- and motorcross-stunts. This is international quality, maybe even more spectacular stuff than in the Bond movies from that time. Most impressive is when one character jumps with his motorcross onto a speeding train, something Michelle Yeoh did in Stanley Tong’s Jackie Chan-production Police Story 3 in 1992. But I must admit that the stunt performed in H-Bomb is a lot more impressive and better shot. This is not the only stunt of course and we’re treated to several very nicely executed action scenes with big explosions and dangerous vehicle acrobatics.

Even if H-Bomb has a more “realistic” atmosphere, its still feels a lot like a Bond-movie. From the pre-credit sequence, the extremely Bondish theme song, Phairoj Jaisin Felix Leiter-style character, the action, the underground monitor-filled base and a plan to take over Thailand (maybe even Asia) by controlling a secret missile to the overall sense of an international spy-adventure. H-Bomb is a great action movie and proves once again what a talented director Philip Chalong was.

1 comment:

Ty said...

Good review! Always wanted to see this. Love Phillip Chalong. Will have to buy a copy soon.