After having reviewed the soundtrack
CD of this curiosity – probably the weirdest film music I have ever heard, I
was curious to see the film. Lately it has appeared on the sales shelves of
several retail chains here in the UK so I took the plunge.
This is what I said about the CD:-
"The music embraces a
bewildering plethora of styles. The opening track 'Mercy', belies its title
for it is a cheerful upbeat number that has a tenor voice over what sounds like
an oriental Palm Court Orchestra. 'The Moon Lament' has a husky soprano voice
with a shaky delivery, sliding up and down to her notes, the tune a rather sentimental
country and western seasoned with oriental figures. 'When the Rain Bid the Sky
Farewell' has the lady continuing her musings over a mix of waltz and tango
rhythms the music veering in a more westerly direction. The sentimental
'Destiny' from the male vocalist lunges back towards traditional oriental.
'Beautiful Beach' suddenly sidetracks towards Hawaii with the guitarists sliding
all over the place, so does the female vocalist. In 'Splendid Night Sky'
the lady's huskiness rivals that of Marlene Dietrich. "
"Six out of the thirteen
tracks are purely instrumental and most are repeats of earlier material. For
example, Mercy, this time round has whistling replacing the vocal. Elsewhere,
listen out for the simulated gun shots, they give a whole new dimension to the
western genre! "
"File under – Curiosities (very curious!) One of those CDs that is so
bad that its good; fun in small doses"
The film itself has several other
musical curiosities. Bits of Dvorak’s New World Symphony are used as source
music for the lovelorn heroine's lamentations. There are a number of cheap references
to Morricone’s spaghetti westerns scores. The heroine’s sung laments sound rather
more Celtic than Far Eastern considering this is a Far Eastern Western that
boasts plenty of horseback chases, gun fights and Thai cowboys in black hats
(everybody is bad, bad, bad in this film except Miss Goody-two-shoes, the wailing
You will notice that Uncut has
remarked that this film is "Mad as a bag of spiders". An understatement.
The convoluted plot is about the frustrated romance between a poor peasant boy
and the daughter of a rich and powerful local politician. It begins when the
protagonists are children – the girl being a really obnoxious little brat -
and continues through to their time at college together. In saving her virtue
he becomes involved in a fight and is expelled. After he discovers that his
father has been killed by pillaging rival villagers he joins a band of bandits
and becomes a murderous outlaw who captures the heroine’s unwanted (by her,
just by her dad) fiancé etc etc….
Just to give you an idea of the
battiness of this film. The songs lyrics appear at the foot of the screen with
musical symbols. Some scenes have painted backcloths in garish colours and huge
moons. There are many crazy gun battles. In one duel the fired bullets meet
and scrape against each other and the trajectory of one is altered so that it
returns and crashes through the teeth of the chap who fired it! In a duel with
a rival bandit, the hero uses a pistol that acts like a machine gun. His rival
is puzzled to find himself alive until a deadly snake killed by the hero drops
out of the tree above him onto his hat. In another scene a bullet ricochets
around the room at lightning speed before hitting its target. Up comes a card
"Did You See That? Let’s play it again in slow motion" – which
they proceed to do! Towards the end, in the climactic battle, a bazooka shell
hits a chap in the stomach lifts him off his feet, hurls him through several
rooms before splatting him against a wall at the top of a flight of stairs.
Yes there is lots of blood-letting but it all looks like so much strawberry
jam that you are convulsed laughing rather than being sickened. The two stars
are so wooden that they make Robert Taylor and Vera Ralston* look positively
A ‘Tom and Jerry’- type Far Eastern Western that’s so bad it’s good. Weird but fun.
* You could well be too young to
remember Vera; she was the wife of Republic Studios’ Chief Executive, Herbert
J Yates, and she appeared in a number of that studio’s westerns.