Thursday, March 29, 2012

i SPY EUROSPY: Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
Director: Duccio Tessari
Year 1966
Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is a wonderfully fun Eurospy flick that literally takes you on a wild ride and never lets off the insanity switch. Filmed in a tongue and cheek style, and acted in similar fashion, the movie magnifies the conventions of the genre by piling ludicrous situations upon ludicrous situations, leaving the viewer’s head to spin in all the audaciousness of it all. If there was ever a Eurospy film that catered to and combined the aspects of the swashbuckling methods of Errol Flynn, or the zany antics of the most off the wall of spy spoofs, or the charismatic magnitude of a James Bond movie, than this one is it. Strap your seatbelts on, because this is going to be one hell of a crazy time.
The film follows Kirk Warren, a disgraced spy, who is about to be hanged for attempting to steal one million dollars. Luckily this happens to be this opportunistic agent’s lucky day, because he has just been pardoned so that he can take on a most intriguing mission. It seems that a mysterious man named only as Mister X, has been causing quite a stir for the agency so Warren is sent out to reveal the man’s true identity. To be able to pull this heist off, Warren must assemble a group of old friends in order to steal a secret formula in Switzerland. Together with his motley crew of felons, Kirk and the gang decide to obtain the formula, but instead sell it to the diabolical Mister X for a hefty sum. One way or another, Kirk is going to get that one million dollars, even if it almost kills him again. What follows is a series of unbelievable and wacky events that thrill as much as they entertain. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, and Thrill Thrill.

Giuliano Gemma plays the money hungry secret agent Kirk Warren, and damn does he do a spectacular job with the character. His fusion of comedic timing and expert athleticism is just electrifying, and the fact that he has such a huge amount of charisma doesn’t hurt matters either. With Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang being my first introduction to the actor, I’m surprised I haven’t come across him sooner. He really brings this film to life, sporting some stylish outfits and generating enough awe inspiring moments that it will literally flip your lid. One of the most memorable scenes of the film has him skydiving from a plane, only to land on top of a snow covered mountain, where he proceeds to strap on some skis and press on head long down the side of the mountain causing various amounts of chaos for everyone who happens to come across his unstoppable path. He eventually makes it to the bottom of the mountain, crashing into a ski resort and flipping perfectly into a seat in the resort’s lobby, where he calmly orders a drink. What a guy! After watching him perform that string of amazing stunts and to see him go all out in this silly and enjoyable Eurospy, I’ve made a personal note to keep an eye out for anything starring this dynamic actor, and I can’t imagine that this is his only role that allowed him to shine so brightly.
Matching Giuliano’s expert skills as both an actor and entertainer is the absolutely ravishing Nieves Navarro, playing the role of Alina Shakespeare. Alina’s place in this film is something of a double edged sword, for she plays a dual role in both being Kirk’s girlfriend and nemesis as the film begins to spin wildly out of control later on in the second portion of the movie. Navarro looks spectacular in the movie, and she practically steals every scene she appears in, threatening to overshadow our main actor Giuliano Gemma. With both actors having such a strong screen presence, the two make a perfect cinematic couple and it was enthralling to see the two duke it out for supremacy of each scene they shared. This is also my first time seeing Nieves Navarro perform, who often is credited by the name of Susan Scott, but it won’t be my last. I did a little digging through her filmography and I came to find that she has performed in a number of Giallos, which I own four of, and she also starred alongside Gemma again in at least two spaghetti westerns entitled, A Pistol for Ringo and The Return of Ringo. I’ll be tackling her Giallo films in the coming weeks, so stay tuned for reviews on Death Walks at Midnight, Death Walks on High Heels, and The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion. If her roles in these number of flicks are as entertaining as her portrayal as Alina Shakespeare in Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, then I’ll be quite satisfied.

If those two accomplished actors weren’t enough, the film is jam packed with other equally entertaining performers and wildly portrayed characters. George Martin, who has collaborated with Giuliano and a few of the other stars of this picture, plays the role of Chico Perez, an acrobat and one of the key henchmen in Kirk Warren’s recruited gang. He has the comedic aspect of his character down packed, and has a great number of moments in the film that showcase his expert acrobatic skills and superb athleticism. Lorella De Luca plays the role of Frida Kadar, a dimwitted young girl who can’t help but fall all over Kirk whenever the two cross paths, despite her being engaged to a Texas land baron. She also has a handle on the more comedic moments, even showcasing some of her physical comedy stylings when a bed collapses in on her when goofing around in Kirk’s hotel room. Antonio Casas also gets in on the action, taking on the role of Prof. Padereski, another one of Kirk’s hand-picked heist members. His character doesn’t get too many opportunities to prove his worth, but the moments that he’s on screen are just golden.
Rounding out the memorable cast is Daniele Vargas, who plays the role of Tol Lim AKA Mister X. In this film, this guy is just a laugh a minute, doing some of the silliest things a person can imagine without having any real reason to be doing it in the first place. For instance, in one scene he is hanging out on his private yacht with a few henchmen and the beautiful Nieves Navarro, while talking up secret agent Kirk Warren. All of this seems pretty normal, until you notice him gliding around on a pair of roller skates. Why he chose to wear them at a time like this is beyond me, but the overall impression that you get from the scene is oddly hilarious. He continues with his unusual performance by next appearing in a jester outfit for no particular reason than to be a weirdo and creep me the hell out. He finally settles for a circus leader outfit during the big chase number through an amusement park, until lastly dressing down into a karate gi for the big finale.
Looking back, I’d have to say that the most interesting thing about his character is the number of wardrobe changes the man goes through in the span of the film. What makes these outrageous outfits so entertaining is not just because they look wildly inappropriate, but also because they have entirely no relation to what is going on in the film and they seem absolutely random at best. The only time his wardrobe pertains to the film, is in the closing battle between Kirk and Mister X, where the mysterious dresser gets to show off his karate skills. Though it’s extremely surprising to find out that the chubby Mister X is a martial arts force to be reckoned with, it at least makes sense for him to strip down into a karate gi. I just utterly loved the wackiness of his character and felt that he was a great nemesis for Kirk to come up against in the flick. Their epic fight at the end of the movie was the very definition of entertaining, and basically summed up the overall feel of the film.

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is a Eurospy film that really doesn’t have anything to compare itself with. Sure it has the comedic flair that many spy spoofs have in the genre, but none go as far as to make their movie so off-the-wall that it often at times rides right off the rail of conventional thinking. I really dug the odd moments and felt that it made total sense in the great span of the story. The many characters of this unbelievably insane Eurospy were perfectly cast, making for some exceptionally memorable moments and unforgettable personalities.
Giuliano Gemma, Nieves Navarro, and Daniele Vargas are the big standouts of the film, giving some of the most extraordinarily entertainment-filled moments that I’ve bore witness to in many a spy spoof. With Giuliano’s mind boggling fight choreography, to Navarro’s spellbinding beauty, to Vargas’ crazy never-ending string of inappropriate attire, you really can’t deny the appeal of this flick. It is one Eurospy movie that really puts it all out there and lets the audience just simmer in the absurdity. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is……

Checking your watch when Big Ben is right behind you... Priceless.

So you had a bad day huh?

You big goof.

That's one hell of a nice autograph.

We've Kiss Kissed, now it's time for the Bang Bang.

You talking to me? I'm the only handsome man here so you must be talking to me.

She's sexy... and I think.... she knows it.

Get ready for another Bang Bang.

What a weirdo.

Take off that helmet mister. You look stupid.

Hello, room service? I didn't order a dead guy.

What a nut.

Were you the little shit who told me I looked stupid?

I guess you never have to worry about traffic.

Let me cop just one more feel before I die.

Ladies and gentlemen! It's the Ringling Brothers Henchmen Circus!

Ever have the feeling you're being watched by a group of British businessmen?

No Polly! Don't you die on me you cracker eating bastard!


Every film should end with a cleavage shot as nice as this one.

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