AKA The Stranger and the Gunfighter, La brute, Le Colt et le Karaté
Starring Lee Van Cleef, Lo Lieh, Patty Shepard, Femi Benussi, Karen Yip Leng-Chi, Julián Ugarte, Erika Blanc, Wang Hsieh, Chan Shen, Cheng Miu
Directed by Antonio Margheriti
Expectations: High. I love Spaghetti Westerns and Kung Fu! This sould be a slam dunk, right?
On paper, Blood Money is the kind of movie I should love. A Spaghetti Western starring Lee Van Cleef, co-produced by Shaw Brothers and co-starring Lo Lieh. When I first heard about this movie a few years back, I imagined it as something similar to My Name is Shanghai Joe, only better since it had a great cast and the power of the Shaw Studio’s martial arts behind it. But man… that honestly couldn’t be further from the truth. Blood Money isn’t a horrible movie, but it’s definitely not taking full advantage of all the greatness at its disposal.
Dakota (Lee Van Cleef) comes to town with one thing on his mind: cracking the safe of Wang, a man said to have his fortune stored within. Dakota gets right to work, finding a sequence of locked doors within, each containing a picture of a prostitute who works for Wang. The safe’s final door requires some dynamite, and the blast not only opens the door but mistakenly kills Wang. Dakota retrieves the contents (another photo… and a fortune cookie), but he is arrested before he can get away. Word of Wang’s death reaches China, so Wang’s nephew Wang Ho Chien (Lo Lieh) is sent to investigate and find the missing fortune. His first stop is to question Dakota in jail, but this is just the beginning of the hunt for Wang’s treasure!
The one action scene that manages to entertain well is the film’s finale. It brings everything together in one last-ditch effort to gain your attention, and against all odds it works! Hahahaha, anyway there’s some nice gun work and standoffs, Lo Lieh gets to strut a bit, and Lee Van Cleef rides an odd chariot with a Gatling gun. It’s nothing worth hunting down the film for, but if you’re already here it ends the film on a definite high note.
I can’t recommend Blood Money for anyone but the most ardent of Shaw Brothers fans. It’s not even a good Spaghetti Western either, although I must admit that the Spaghetti Western comedy is by far my least favorite style of the genre. If you do track it down, you’ve been warned; hopefully you enjoy it more than I did.
Next up in this chronological journey through the Shaw Brothers Martial Arts catalog is Chang Tseng-Chai’s second gambling action film, The Gambling Syndicate! See ya then!