In Woody Allen's directorial debut, he took the Japanese action film Kokusai himitsu keisatsu: Kagi no kagi (1965) and re-dubbed it, changing the plot to make it revolve around a secret egg ... Read allIn Woody Allen's directorial debut, he took the Japanese action film Kokusai himitsu keisatsu: Kagi no kagi (1965) and re-dubbed it, changing the plot to make it revolve around a secret egg salad recipe.In Woody Allen's directorial debut, he took the Japanese action film Kokusai himitsu keisatsu: Kagi no kagi (1965) and re-dubbed it, changing the plot to make it revolve around a secret egg salad recipe.
So, for me, this is actually one of my favorite Woody Allen comedies. Not really up as high in terms of cinematic 'quality' (in terms of craftsmanship, I mean) as his 70s films, but with material like this, it's almost required not to carp. Woody and his team of writers and voice actors almost have it cut out for them. There's much to wonder, perhaps, in what the 'real' plot of this Japanese spy film (Kokusai himitsu keisatsu: Kagi no kagi, or International Secret Police: Key of Keys) is almost as funny as what the writers come up with. Spies and assassins are on the look out for, get this, an Egg salad recipe! But, of course, this is just as much a gimmick as is, well, much of the rest of what comes out of the actor's mouths. At times I wasn't even sure if it was all Woody Jokes, or which were (twenty minutes, apparently, are not by Woody Allen's group but by someone else, though it's hard to tell which is a credit to most involved), but I didn't care. It's got the kind of jokes that, on a certain plain, can allow you to laugh like an idiot.
Certain gags just come with the territory of the film itself, and are heightened by the added bits during fights. But much of the film is based on the wit Woody's known for, though here sometimes to equally 'bad-pun' and juvenile terms, even featuring (practically never in any of his other films) rock and roll and cartoon-like voices (my favorite the snake-obsessed henchman) right out of Looney Tunes and Ren & Stimpy. So many lines strike up laughs to greater or lesser degrees it's hard to really spot them out, but it's suffice to say that by the time it's done- and through its end credits featuring an eye-exam- you'll know whether you'll want to watch it again like a ZAZ or Brooksfilm to memorize the quotable lines and bits, or put it in the lower, deeper-to-find section in your video collection. Things like a spy who bursts into an operatic love song during tense confrontation scenes, and with puns like "two Wong's don't make a right", are what you can expect in this film, but there's more, and it will either ignite the anything-goes funny button, or just not do it for you. One thing's for sure, you'll never see the Lovin' Spoonful the same way again.
By the way, this review reflects the Woody Allen dub of the movie (of what's 2/3 there anyway), and it's available on the DVD; recommended over the other dub that's been floating around too.
- Aug 16, 2006