24 September 2005 | raktratt
Madcap Pythonesque mock-up of Hollywood's "Asians"
A side-splitting spoof of western perceptions of Asian culture as presented by Hollywood, beginning with Charlie Chan and Fu Manchu in the 30s and 40s and then straight through to the James Bond and early kung-fu era.
No need for any sort of substantive plot as we chuckle along at the antics of bumbling inspector Hoku (played by Zero Mostel) as he follows the trail of robot-thieving criminals (this is supposed to be set in Japan after all). Along the way our hero meets up with various unexpected dangers from Japanese keystone cops and a police captain bent on suicide (played by veteran Japanese actor Frankie Sakai). The "action" is frequently interrupted by our hero's fantasy dream sequences of his previous incarnation as a great samurai and moments of Zen-fortune-cookie clarity. Fans of Japanese cinema will also note that experienced actress Keiko Kishi makes an appearance as the hero's love interest.
Great fun for some of us, but the humor, and especially the parody, may well not be to everybody's taste, especially those already deeply offended by the subject of ridicule, one of Hollywood's largest and oldest sub-genre catalogs.
I don't think the 1976 date stated above is accurate, as the film was made much earlier. As noted above, it was never released in theaters. It has appeared as the late-night movie on North American television occasionally before being released on VHS in 1999.
It should be noted that Hollywood was still churning out various strange representations of Asian culture well past the time this movie was made. It's too easy to see Cato (as played by Bruce Kwouk) of the Pink Panther movies in harikiri-deathwishing Captain Yamada, just to cite one example.
Well worth an 8.0 for those of us who really enjoy this kind of silliness