07 December, 2018

KISS AND KILL (a.k.a THE BLOOD OF FU MANCHU) Jess Franco, 1968

I actually prefer this version of Jess Franco's THE BLOOD OF FU MANCHU (FU MANCHU Y EL BESO DE LA MUERTE), which moves with dispatch and doesn't seem to sag in the middle, as does the uncut, longer version. I also believe the new opening of this version (which appears later in some other versions) was borrowed, consciously or unconsciously, by RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK for the opening scene in that mega-hit.

This American Video 1988 VHS lists a 91 minute runtime on the back cover  (it's actually shorter than THE BLOOD OF FU MANCHU version and plays much more efficiently with a new opening scene featuring Gotz George leading an expedition toward Fu Manchu's hidden jungle city, which actually looks more like a large cave. Credited to Peter Welbeck, producer Harry Alan Towers, this first Franco-Towers collaboration is somewhat more coherent, but less colorful than the Franco-Towers THE CASTLE OF FU MANCHU (1969).

The back copy on the Kiss and Kill VHS (Rated PG) reads like a promo for a 1970s kung fu epic: " The great Christopher Lee explodes in this kung-fu classic! Playing a Japanese (?!) mercenary, he's intent on righting  the evils that roam the land [actually, he's playing the Chinese super villain Fu Manchu!] He's in top form, fighting off his enemies with lots of sizzling high energy, high-kickin' action! As one of the most exciting films of its genre, KISS AND KILL will keep you on the edge of your seat!" But even trimmed by 10 or so minutes it's somewhat of a slog and won't keep anyone on the edge of their seat. And there is no high kicking kung fu fighting in any version which I've seen.
There's also a US release of this film titled AGAINST ALL ODDS, which is a different edit of BLOOD OF FU MANCHU. Released in the US theatrically in September 1969.

(C) Robert Monell

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