Shatter (1974)

shatter_1Shatter [奪命刺客] (1974)
AKA Call Him Mr. Shatter

Starring Stuart Whitman, Ti Lung, Lily Li Li-Li, Peter Cushing, Anton Diffring, Yemi Goodman Ajibade, Ko Hung, Keung Hon, James Ma Chim-Si, Lee Hoi-Sang, Lau Nga-Ying, Huang Pei-Chih, Lau Kar-Wing

Directed by Michael Carreras (who took over from Monte Hellman), with some help from Chang Cheh

Expectations: Low, but it has Ti Lung so…

onehalfstar


If you’ve ever wondered why the great Ti Lung never really made it big outside of Asia, look no further than the Shaw Brothers/Hammer Films co-production Shatter! I went into this movie assuming that Ti Lung played a character named Shatter, and that he was so named because his fists were so powerful they shattered the bones of his opponents. But no! Shatter is just some boring white dude (Stuart Whitman) who doesn’t really do anything to justify naming a movie after him. The filmmakers do their best in the editing to make Whitman look like Ti Lung’s equal in the fist fights, but the illusion was not convincing. The film flopped hard at the box office, as well, cutting the three-film contract between Shaw and Hammer short at two.

Shatter begins the film in East Africa, where he assassinates a top general with a gun concealed inside a camera (and fired by taking a picture). Shatter flees to Hong Kong to receive his payment for the job, but when he meets with his contact, Hans Leber (Anton Diffring), Hans gives him the runaround and refuses to pay him. This is where the plot kind of lost me. Chinese assassins are trying to kill Shatter, but I don’t know how they fit it exactly. Peter Cushing (in his final appearance for Hammer) and some goons show up to intimidate/beat up Shatter for some reason, and this is where Ti Lung and Lily Li enter the story. They take Shatter in to help him recuperate, and then magically Lily Li is deeply in love with him and Ti Lung is ready to risk his life for Shatter’s cause (which as far as I could tell was just to get paid). I don’t really understand why any of that happens, but it does.

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Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street (1973)

deadpigeon_1Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street [Tote Taube in der Beethovenstraße] (1973)
Released in the US 1974

Starring Glenn Corbett, Christa Lang, Sieghardt Rupp, Anton Diffring, Stéphane Audran, Eric P. Caspar, William Ray, Alexander D’Arcy, Anthony Chinn

Directed by Samuel Fuller

Expectations: Moderate.

Overall:
twohalfstar

Just in terms of entertainment:
threestar


Following Shark!, Sam Fuller’s luck getting films funded didn’t change much; Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street is Fuller’s only film of the ’70s. Technically, it’s not even a proper film, but if you didn’t know it was made as an episode of the German cop series Tatort (which is amazingly still running), you’d never have guessed it. Where American television stifled Fuller’s creative spirit and made him conform to the norms of whatever show he was working on, the producers of Tatort allowed Fuller the freedom to make whatever he wanted. He took this freedom and ran with it, crafting a unique, exciting picture unlike anything else in the Fuller catalog. Part crime thriller, part farcical comedy, Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street is a hidden gem in Fuller’s filmography.

Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street opens with a pigeon falling from the sky. As it plummets to the sidewalk below, it is joined on the ground by a dying man. The killer runs down the street with the cops in chase. The film hits the ground running, leading us into a tale of blackmail, deceit and betrayal. Our hero, Sandy (Glenn Corbett, who made his film debut in Fuller’s The Crimson Kimono), is an American private investigator on the hunt for the negatives to some compromising photos of an American senator. The man murdered on Beethoven Street was Sandy’s partner, and the clues left by the murderer allow Sandy to infiltrate the group responsible for the senator’s blackmail.

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