The Eurospy movie Scorpions and Miniskirts (better known by the far more mundane title Death on a Rainy Day) had been high on my must-see list ever since viewing an incredible English-language trailer on YouTube a few years ago, but the only version I could come across was in German. I watched it and appreciated the cool action sequences and plentiful sight gags, but had no idea what was going on. Now, thanks to the tireless translator of Eurospy movies (or at least facilitator of such translations) known as Skadog, (the actual translation is credited to somebody called Turdis, to whom I am very grateful) I’ve been able to watch this movie with subtitles. And guess what? It turns out that nearly all the dialogue I was missing out on is either sexist or racist. Ah, Eurospies! Of course, that’s not to say it isn’t entertaining. This is clearly a movie with its tongue firmly in its cheek, but it’s a little tough to tell exactly what’s intended as parody and what’s just taken for granted. Perhaps the racism (primarily directed at the Chinese) is just as brilliant a satire of European attitudes as that on display in the latest OSS 117 spoof movie, but through the filter of age and subtitles, I honestly can’t tell. Either way though, viewed now from a securely post-modern perspective, it serves as such.
Even though it features French heroes as opposed to the usual Eurospy CIA agents, Scorpions and Miniskirts is apparently a German/Spanish/Italian co-production. It plays like an abortive attempt to launch a Kommissar X-style buddy spy franchise, only a bit more slanted towards comedy. As with that series, there are lots of great, well-choreographed, over-the-top action sequences (specializing in the variety in which a lone hero manages to take out whole armies of villains shooting automatic weapons at him without suffering a scratch). The film opens with a particularly spectacular (though utterly nonsensical) action sequence in which secret agent Paul Riviere (Jess Franco collaborator Adrian Hoven, who also produced) pops out of a coffin as he’s being buried, blasts a bunch of policeman, then escapes when his coffin is airlifted out by helicopter, still returning fire from inside the airborne casket. The scenario is never really explained, but it makes for one hell of a beginning!
Mission: Impossible-style face masks and hypodermic needles and imperiled women and car chases) is what transpires afterwards, when the agents’ boss pulls rank and commandeers their whole harem, leaving the two spy guys (rather appropriately) with each other.
Peter Thomas/Jerry Cotton sort of vibe and mostly succeeding pretty well) by first-time composer Jerry van Rooyen (who would go on to score Jess Franco’s wild Eurospy flicks Sadisterotica and Kiss Me Monster) helps compensate for the doughy, charmless leads and non-threatening main villain Dr. Kung (George Wang), as do a fairly witty (if racist) script (credited to four writers, including Comas) and solid action direction. This isn’t top-shelf Eurospy by any stretch (although it does have one of the best openings in the subgenre), so it’s not worth scouring the Earth to find a subtitled copy, but if you do manage to turn one up it’s definitely worth a watch. If you’re just wetting your feet in the Eurospy world, though, you’re better off sticking to surer fare like the OSS 117 series or Deadlier Than the Male or Lightning Bolt.
|This image pretty much says it all.|