Supermen Against the Orient (1974)

supermenagainsttheorient_1Supermen Against the Orient [Crash! Che botte… strippo strappo stroppio, 四王一后] (1974)
AKA Three Supermen Vs The Orient, Three Fantastic Supermen in the Orient

Starring Robert Malcolm, Antonio Cantafora, Salvatore Borghese, Lo Lieh, Shih Szu, Tung Lam, Alberto Farnese, Jacques Dufilho, Isabella Biagini, Kong Ling, Lau Wai-Ling, Yeung Chi-Hing, Chan Ho

Directed by Bitto Albertini (with an uncredited assist from Kuei Chi-Hung)

Expectations: Super low.

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No one expects to like every movie they watch, but I generally enjoy most Shaw Brothers films, even the ones that don’t really capture me. I have enough affection for the studio, its stars, and its production style to get me through a boring film. For better or worse, that’s how it is. So it’s surprising when I run into one that I pretty much hate. To be fair, there are some things that I liked about this co-production with Italy’s INDIEF, but overall Supermen Against the Orient has to be one of the worst Shaw films I’ve seen. At least it’s only barely a Shaw Brothers movie, which is partly why it didn’t play well for me.

In 1967, Gianfranco Parolini directed The Three Fantastic Supermen, and it was so popular that it spawned an entire franchise. I’ve heard of them, but this is the first I’ve seen. From what I can tell, it’s a loose series, swapping out characters and actors regularly, but there is a core framework that remains constant. Similar to James Bond, our main character is an FBI Agent who is sent to far-off exotic locales to thwart some kind of devious behavior. Along the way he teams up with a pair of well-meaning thieves who possess bulletproof super suits, and together they all save the day from the bad guys. This vague description of the formula can also serve as a plot description for Supermen Against the Orient, since none of the specifics about the villains or what they’re doing actually matter. There’s a drug deal and some kidnapped people, but I couldn’t tell you much else about why everything was happening.

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The Return of Shanghai Joe (1975)

The Return of Shanghai Joe [Il ritorno di Shanghai Joe] (1975)
AKA Che botte, ragazzi! & Zwei durch dick und dünn

Starring Klaus Kinski, Cheen Lie, Tommy Polgár, Karin Field, Claudio Giorgi, Tom Felleghy, Paolo Casella, Fortunato Arena

Directed by Bitto Albertini

Expectations: Low. It can’t live up to the first one.

On the general scale:
(NO STARS)

On the B-Movie scale:


For those expecting a film on the level of My Name is Shanghai Joe, you should look elsewhere. If, on the other hand, you’re in the mood for a total and utter piece of shit, then The Return of Shanghai Joe is the movie for you! It’s offensive in its sheer audacity to take boredom to new heights. And to think I had some expectations that this would only be half as good a movie as the original. It’s not even fit to be in the same state as that film; it’s literally so boring and pointless that I’m having a hard time staying focused enough to get my thoughts down.

The plot, if you could call it that, involves a tonic salesman who falls into a bad crowd when a dying bandit hides out in his wagon. I honestly can’t remember what happened next, because there’s literally no reason to. The plot moves from point to point alright, but without any sense of what a story is or should be, so it’s incredibly hard to re-tell. I forget exactly how, but at some point the salesman gets duped out into the wilderness where some evil fuckers are planning to rob and hang him. Shanghai Joe happens to be taking a nap behind a tree and saves the salesman’s life, so now they’re pretty much buddies for the rest of the film. That might sound like it has potential or is perhaps vaguely intriguing. It’s not, and lest you be fooled by the title, Shanghai Joe is barely in the film.

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