Mar 4, 2007

Review: So Darling, So Deadly

After watching three Kommissar X movies, I feel fairly qualified to take a guess and suppose the following description pretty much sums up the plot of all of them: Joe and Tom arrive in a foreign location to protect a professor who has invented some sort of device. Joe woos the professor’s beautiful daughter (and any other woman who happens to walk on camera), and generally behaves like a jerk, much to Tom’s annoyance. Joe and Tom tangle with the minions of a mysterious villain, which inevitably includes at least two beautiful female assassins. They get into some brawls, perform some impressive stunts, Joe smirks, Tom takes his shirt off, they raid an underground lair where the villain’s true identity is revealed, stuff blows up, and Joe goes off with a minimum of two girls.

All that’s certainly the case in So Darling, So Deadly, and the device this time (not that it matters), is a gizmo that can shut down the engine of any vehicle within a hundred miles, including airplanes. Now that the plot’s out of the way, I can move on to all the things that actually matter in this kind of movie.

We begin with a typically sexist exchange, just to remind everyone they’re watching a Kommissar X flick:

A voluptuous blond Eurospy babe (above) sashays up to Joe and Tom.

Blonde (in a Marilyn Monroe voice): “I don’t need brains, do I, Joe? A girl can use other things. I’ll see you around ”

Tom: “She’s got all it takes ”

Joe: “Too bad I can’t bring that on the trip to Singapore! I don’t suppose Apollo would pay for excess baggage like that

Yes, he emphasizes “that” twice. The camera helpfully zeroes in on the lady's well-defined derriere as she slinks away.

And with that, we’re off to Singapore, accompanied by an Oriental-tinged reprise of “I Love You, Joe Walker,” from the first movie. I’m not sure if it’s really Singapore (the only thing to make me assume otherwise is the distinct lack of actual Asian actors), but this movie was definitely shot on location somewhere pretty. (The impressive Tiger Balm Gardens from the finale of Ring Around the World is again put to good use.) The scenery is typically breathtaking, one of the real highlights of the Kommissar X movies. They shot around the world in great locations, and didn’t rely on Rome to double for every city on Earth the way other, lower budget Eurospy movies were sometimes known to.

Despite their mission, Joe and Tom decide to just hang out, Joe by the pool and Tom waterskiing. This leads to a little too much of Tony Kendall in his bathing suit, flopping around in the water, and a lot too much of Brad Harris shirtless.

Let me take a moment here to address Brad Harris’s physique, since the producers make sure we see it at least once in every movie. There’s no question that Harris is in good shape (he’s clearly an athlete, and a veteran of peplum movies), but he has very weird muscles. Particularly his abs. They’re not a six-pack per se, but more of a five pack, with a single big, lumpy muscle across the top. And it occupies a space where no muscle is meant to be, smack in the middle of his torso. It’s fascinating.

Anyway, while he’s waterskiing, Tom comes under attack by another bearded henchman... or maybe it’s the same one from Kiss Kiss, Kill Kill. Yep, same one. Guiseppe Mattei, in a different bearded hench-role. Luckily, it turns out Tom keeps a pistol in a plastic bag on him when he goes waterskiing in just his swim trunks Where was that hidden? (Now I can really see what he meant a few minutes earlier when he declared that “guns cramp my style.”) I like the detail that it’s in a plastic bag. Some movies might ask us to believe that a wet gun won’t misfire (no matter where it’s been hidden), but Kommissar X actually provides this single touch of realism amidst all its utterly ludicrous pseudo-science. It’s a nice touch.

The boys recover from their respective assassination attempts (Joe with the aid of a bullet-proof suitcase), and decide to discover what it’s all about. Joe meets with the professor’s daughter, Sybille, and states, “All I know about your father is that he’s a physicist who’s experimenting with certain rays.” Uh-oh I’ve seen enough Eurospy movies to know that rays always mean trouble. Always. No exceptions. Sure enough, this ray business leads to further assassination attempts, several conducted by blond assassin sisters, one of whom (Stella) has a particular, fashion-forward penchant for midriff-baring shirts.

Joe and Tom escape one of these situations by using the old “set the whole pier on fire” diversion (and then gleefully spraying down Stella with a firehose!), and another by dressing in traditional women’s clothes to evade a whole slew of enemies unseen. This pains the ever-macho Joe, who whines, “I’d rather fight than do this ”

Joe shows his soft side again when a pretty girl in a nightclub informs him that two people are trying to murder her. Even though he has every reason to believe she’s telling the truth, he chooses to just smile and dance (you gotta see Tony Kendall’s moves!) and force her to keep dancing with him until she does, indeed, get shot. Then he runs away. One is reminded of what Pamela said about him in Kiss Kiss, Kill Kill: “He’s the most charming man I’ve ever met! Charming!” (Perhaps she led a very sheltered life.)

The bad guy’s underground lair this time appears to be in a sewer, and has to be accessed by dressing in frogman suits and swimming under the city. We later learn that it also has a front door. Joe is of course captured and told that “Beautiful women will have you torn to pieces. They are the claws of the Golden Dragon.” His response? “That sounds very nice.” Knowing Joe, I doubt he’s being glib.

He escapes, of course (again due to his irresistible charms and Stella’s susceptibility to them), and meets up with Tom for a rather sub-standard punch-up in a muddy, low-rent waterfront location. Not one of the best Kommissar X finales.

Overall, So Darling, So Deadly isn’t bad, and it’s still plenty of fun, but it’s not as enjoyable as the other two Kommissar X movies in this collection, and for once it doesn’t offer any standout setpieces.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thats true. This movie was filmed in Singapore shown the first Singapore Grand Prix in 1966. After that both guys drove in Oldsmobile passing by the Padang where you can see the Supreme Court on the right, then to a left turn at the bridge. On the right is the old General Post Office (now is Fullerton Hotel) and Clifford Pier. Then the airport was Singapore International Aiport at Paya Lebar. :)

Tanner said...

Thank you for sharing! That's fascinating information. I love these sorts of facts! The location is really stunning in the movie.