07 October, 2014


Bangkok, Cita con la Muerte
Written and Directed by Clifford Brown (Jess Franco)
Produced by Emilio Larraga Golden Films Internacional S.A. Barcelona
87m Fujicolor, Widescreen.
{No known  DVD release}
{No known English language VHS or DVD available.}

A good natured experiment, BANGKOK CITY OF THE DEAD mixes comic book-style imagery with a crime thriller plot. Franco has tried this before, notably in the delightful LOS BLUES CALLE POP (1983). Unlike that project, BANGKOK lacks that film's poised, very Franco-esque humor. The overly formulaic plot combines drug running, Thai pirates (led by Lina Romay?), karate fighting, kidnapping, and parody on a C minus budget, enlivened by glittering, cubist style compositions executed on colorful Canary Island locations. This isn't Hollywood, it's not even Hong Kong. It's 100 per cent pure Jess Franco

While on a yachting interlude the beautiful young daughter (Helena Garrett) of a millionaire is kidnapped by pirates. Her father (Eduardo Fajardo) hires a bumbling private eye named Panama Joe (Bork Gordon) to locate her. The daughter's boyfriend is also on the kidnappers' trail. Panama Joe discovers the crooks are led by  drug smuggler Malko (Antonio Mayans), who is in turn being double crossed by Queen Amania (Lina Romay). The detective tries to play both sides against the other, while uncovering deeper layers of corruption and double dealing.
Lina Romay as Amania, the pirate...

BANGKOK is dialogue and plot heavy to no good end, and Gordon's imitation Inspector Columbo ramblings just do not spark the same kind of mystique. But at least he attempts to lighten up the proceedings. He has his moments but not enough of them. The villains pretty much do the heavy lifting here. The characters are shown talking in cartoon dialog balloons during the opening credits, but Franco unaccountably drops this unusual device immediately and never picks it up again. What's left is a C-minus adventure with some ill-timed comic relief and ineptly staged karate stand-offs, in which the participants miss each other by miles. No contact of any kind to be found here.

Favorite scene: Helena Garret getting "tortured" by being forced to sit under one of those old fashioned helmut style hair dryers.

Lina Romay has a few touching moments as the pirate leader, and she looks the part in her headband and leather jacket.. In one rather silly scene, shes dances around in a tight, skimpy leopard skin outfit accompanied by a mechanical band. The result might been cute in 1973, but at this late date it is not at all erotic and unflattering to the talented Ms. Romay. But one wonders if it was meant to be sexy at all. Is it just another Jess Franco in-joke?  It's amusing, for sure, with the absurb music and shots of the animated band instrument, but its the kind of amusement which maybe only Jess Franco enthusiasts might appreciate. Veteran character actor Fajardo at first glance turns in a rather disappointing performance as the millionaire. Looked at more closely it's another of the prolific veteran's expert, reserved depictions of ice cold ruthlessness. These kind of villainous roles had become Fajardo's trademark since his signature villain in DJANGO (1966).

The movie benefits from the aforementioned photography of the exotic Carany Islands locations, buttressed by the stock footage of Thailand and Macao. Familiar Jess Franco sites on the Costa Del Sol stand in for some of the Oriental settings. Pieces of Daniel White's brassy score can also be heard in Franco's earlier FU MANCHU AND THE KISS OF DEATH/KISS AND KILL (1967). OBSESSION: THE FILMS OF JESS FRANCO also credits some of the Oriental music to Moira Litell.

Noted Spanish film historian Carlos Aguilar was an assistant director and appears in a small role.

(C) 2014 Robert Monell


Curt Fukuda said...

Hi Robert,

Thanks for your great Franco blog. Hey, just a quick FYI, the translation of "Bangkok, Cita Con La Muerte" is "Bangkok, Appointment With Death."

All the best,

Michelle A said...
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