Jeanne Bell karate chops her way across Hong Kong.
T.N.T. Jackson, for which you see the U.S. promo poster above, is a mid-budget blaxploitation flick built around clumsy martial arts, a flimsy plot, and shoddy acting. But it has Jeanne Bell. Playboy magazine had made Bell a centerfold in 1969. From there she launched a movie career, with T.N.T. Jackson coming ninth in her filmography. She plays Diana “T.N.T.” Jackson, who learns that her brother was killed by Hong Kong drug dealers and seeks payback. While the plot is nothing special, Bell certainly is. She was twenty-five and wore a bouffant hair-do when she first appeared in Playboy; in T.N.T. she was thirty and had blossomed into an unforgettable beauty with a frosted afro, kicking and chopping her way across the movie screen. All the fight scenes are hilarious, with their cut-rate choreography and claw-handed posing, but they're fun to watch, especially the one in which she kicks the shit out of a bunch of guys while wearing only panties. That bit seems to us a clear homage to Reiko Ike's totally nude fight in 1973's Sex & Fury, another movie that surpasses its limitations by piling on style and attitude. Is T.N.T. Jackson actually good? No—but we bet it'll make you smile. It premiered in the U.S. today in 1974.
Xenophobia: Don't leave home without it.
The above poster was made to promote the Japanese run of a West German sexploitation film that originally had the unwieldy title Die jungen Ausreißerinnen - Sex-Abenteuer deutscher Mädchen in aller Welt, which is sometimes shortened to just Die jungen Ausreißerinnen, or “the young runaways.” For distribution in English it was called Innocent Girls Abroad. It has nothing to do with Mark Twain's similarly titled classic, but is of course a softcore romp done anthology style, with Doris Arden headlining as the main innocent. She doesn't appear on the poster, though, save for in the lower lefthand corner. We suspect the Japanese distributors decided she wasn't boobalicious enough, which just goes to show what they know, because Arden is spectacular by any measure.
Anyway, what we have here is a cautionary tale featuring beautiful young travelers and the pitfalls they encounter, slavery among them, with the various misadventures taking place in Hong Kong, London, Beirut, Paris and Rome. Arden gets the Beirut segment and it consists of her telling the local police her story: raped by her stepfather when she was fifteen, a runaway drifting from place to place, ending up in a harem where she becomes a sexual servant, enduring a year of bondage before her escape. Many sexploitation films are joyful or comical or contain messages of female empowerment—Die jungen Ausreißerinnen isn't one of those. You've been warned. After opening in West Germany earlier in the year it played in Japan for the first time today in 1972.
Hong Kong kidnappers have problems mastering possession, and so do the filmmakers.
If Tarantino likes it, it must be tops. At least that's the assumption some would make upon learning that 1976's Ebony, Ivory & Jade has Tarantino's stamp of approval. Well, despite the endorsement and status as a minor classic of the blaxploitation genre, the film isn't great. It has some highlights, including confidently staged action sequences and camerawork that does seem to have influenced Tarantino. But its failings are legion—bad script, wooden acting, and heavy duty crushed black levels that make the actors almost impossible to see in the night sequences. We'll give a pass on that last problem, because it could have happened during the video or DVD transfer.
We'll admit though, this flick is damned funny in parts—unintentionally so, foremost the character Stacy's beatdown of a bad guy who morphs into a dummy at the moment she hoists him overhead and helicopter spins him through a room divider. The basic idea of the film is also appealing—Hong Kong bad guys kidnap five female track stars for ransom, unaware that two of them happen to be martial arts experts that will cause no end of trouble once they untie themselves. Playboy playmate Rosanne Katon in the lead role is also a plus. But as blaxploitation, even a discernibly elevated budget doesn't lift the film above other entries in the genre.
As a side note, the above promo poster should help put to rest any idea that apostrophe illiteracy has something to do with modern education or the internet or whatever. It has always been a problem, and we see it all the time in vintage material. This particular failure to master the possessive form is pretty egregious, though. Yes, it's attached to a movie shot in the Philippines, but the error made it all the way through a phalanx of American writers, designers, pre-press workers, printers, and producers working in the U.S. of A. at—or at least for—Lawrence Woolner's Dimension Pictures. Pretty bad. Though as we've noted in the past, sometimes apostrophe placement can be legitimately tricky.
Whatever happens don't lose your head.
This weird Japanese poster was made to promote the weird Hong Kong movie Xin Mo, aka The Bedeviled, aka Sam moh, a horror flick starring Taiwanese actor Chun Hsiung Ko and Japanese actress Reiko Ike in a tale of corrupt elites in a rural village who frame a peasant and force his wife into sexual servitude. This is not a pinku film—the story unfolds with restraint and the plot is linear. And the moral is clear: don't use your power to subjugate others. But alas, the one-percenters of this village let their greed run rampant and as a result are haunted by severed heads and eventually wind up dead. Too bad greed isn't punished like that in the real world, right? So many severed heads would be flying around they'd turn the noon sky to midnight. We prefer Ike with her head attached, but this is still a good movie. It premiered in Japan today in 1975.
Being on the Lam doesn't sound so bad after all.
Chinese actress Lam Fung, aka Patricia Lam Fung, came to international notice by starring, beginning at age sixteen, in the films of Hong Kong's legendary Shaw Brothers. Working with them she became known as the “Jewel of Shaw,” and many of the movies she made until her surprise retirement at age twenty-seven were huge hits, including 1960's Lian ai yu zhen cao (Love and Chastity), and 1961's Yuan yang dao shang ji (The Mandarin Swords). Fung died in 1976 from an overdose of sleeping pills, a sad end often speculated to be suicide. No date on this awesome image, but figure around 1965.
Olivia Pascal heads to Hong Kong and cockfighting breaks out all around her.
This nice hand-painted and hand-lettered Belgian poster was made for the movie Vanessa, which starred German actress Olivia Pascal in the time-honored tale of a smokin' hot woman raised in a convent and suddenly loosed upon the world. Pascal is informed that her last relative has died and willed her a fantastic fortune. This relative lived in Hong Kong, so she heads there to check it out and discovers not only that the island is awash in sex, sin, and dark magic, but that her inheritance takes the form of ownership of several wildly successful bordellos. The twist here, if it qualifies, is that even though this is your basic softcore sexual awakening film, the main character never actually gets laid. She gets whipped, though, if you're into that sort of thing. Best dialogue in the movie: “Will you excuse me for a moment? Those are real fighting cocks.” As you might guess, cocks of an entirely different kind fight over Pascal, who was a big bonus in the film Griechische Feigen, aka The Fruit Is Ripe, and here spends substantial portions of the film naked, joined by luminaries like Eva Eden, Uschi Zech, and—wait for it—Astrid Boner. We're not making that last one up. We're also not recommending the movie, but Pascal gets highest marks.
Be careful about looking for cheap thrills—you might just find them.
This issue of Adam magazine with its nice cover art illustrating Arthur J Bryant’s story “Hey-Day in Hong Kong” appeared this month in 1971. Bryant’s story, which has a convincing sense of firsthand realism, is about an Aussie traveler searching Hong Kong’s red light district for a “yum-yum girl” but ends up attacked by three thugs. Turns out the hooker employs the toughs because she wants any man who purchases her services to prove he’s deserving of her gifts by fighting for her. You haven’t really had sex unless you’ve done it after being punched in the ribs and eye. Try it sometime.
Elsewhere inside you get more fiction, a bit of fact, plus the usual assortment of humor and models, including, notably, nudist icon Diane Webber, aka Marguerite Empey. The cover art for Adam was painted by Jack Waugh and Phil Belbin. The pieces are always unsigned, but we’re thinking this is Belbin’s work. Don’t quote us on it, though. Both Belbin and Waugh have departed this world, and we doubt there’s an Adam archive somewhere definitively crediting the covers. Anyway, we have thirty-four scans below and so many other issues of this magazine tucked away in the website it’s silly. If you want to see them just click here.
Sonny Chiba is the Duke of hazard.
Above, a poster for Golgo 13: Kûron no kubi, aka Golgo 13: Assignment Kowloon, starring Sonny Chiba, who is better known as Shin’ichi Chiba in his native Japan and the rest of Asia. Chiba plays an assassin named Duke Togo, but codenamed Golgo 13, whose latest contract proves more complex than he imagined. The movie, based on a popular manga, was a Japanese production set in Hong Kong, and was an influence on the excellent crime thrillers that came out of Hong Kong in the 1980s, particularly those by John Woo. Plenty of reviews online so we won’t go into detail, except to say that this one is well worth a viewing, in our opinion. Golgo 13: Kûron no kubi premiered in Japan today in 1977.
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