Monday, January 14, 2019


PHENOMENALITY: (1) *uncanny,* (2) *marvelous*
FRYEAN MYTHOS: *adventure*

Both of these martial-arts films were filmed in South Africa with casts mostly unknown to American audiences. Both follow the trope of the "tournament-film," in which some character, usually a villain, hosts a tournament that attracts fighters from all over the world, all of which follow in the deep footprints led by ENTER THE DRAGON.

Now, while I did judge DRAGON to be a metaphenomenal film, it wasn't because the villain organized a tournament, but because he used weird weapons like a metal hand and a maze of mirrors. General Rudloff, the villain of KILL OR BE KILLED, has nothing special in his arsenal, but he's weird in another way: he's a "perilous psycho" in that he wants to re-stage a previous such tournament that *supposedly* took place back in the 1940s, *supposedly* involved the Germans pitted against their allies the Japanese, and *supposedly* was sponsored by historical Nazi figure Albert Speer.

Though KILL OR BE KILLED is poor in terms of script and production values, I've got to give the filmmakers credit for putting forth such a brain-damaged idea. Certainly there were no martial-arts tournaments back in WWII, though the film's alternate title, KARATE OLYMPIAD, suggests that the script-writer was really thinking Olympic thoughts. One never knows what Rudloff's been doing following the fall of the Axis Powers, but apparently nothing matters to him more than the Olympiad he lost to the Japanese. After assembling kung-fu fighters from all over-- including main hero Steve Chase (James Ryan)-- Rudloff challenges the same Japanese general whose fighters devoted those of Rudloff (though the general claims that his men were bought off). Most of the story concerns Chase and his girlfriend (supposedly another fighter, though she can't fake-fight to save her life) first escaping Rudloff's tyrannical hold, and then returning in order to destroy the general's mad scheme.

KILL AND KILL AGAIN is still cheesy, but it easily makes it into fantasy-film concordances because this time Steve Chase's villain is a mad cult-leader with a sci-fi gimmick. Nasty Marduk, who has even less background than General Rudloff, kidnaps a prominent scientist who intended to create a super-fuel from potatoes, because Marduk has learned how the same formula can be used to control the minds of his cultists. However, the professor has a daughter, the coyly named "Kandy Kane," who convinces Chase to go after Marduk. Chase, having already dealt with one madman, decides that this time out he could use a little more help than he got from his former girlfriend (who is never mentioned, of course). So he appeals to four previous acquaintances to infiltrate Marduk's  compound and to liberate Kandy Kane's father. Not surprisingly, Kandy herself also goes along for the ride, and the actress playing her, Anneline Kriel, at least does some creditable if short fight-scenes.

Though Marduk is not as wild an evildoer as the Nazi with the Olympics fetish, KILL AND KILL AGAIN is a little funnier than the first film, thanks to a lot of goofy lines given to Chase and his friends, anticipating the rise of the equally goofy A-Team in 1983. Fight-scenes overall are better but nothing to write home about.

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