Tuesday, January 22, 2013

i SPY EUROSPY: Agent Z55 Mission Hong Kong

Agent Z55: Mission Hong Kong
Director: Roberto Bianchi Montero
Year 1965

Agent Z55: Mission Hong Kong, AKA Desperate Mission, is an entertaining Eurospy flick that benefits from its cocky and hot-tempered lead, and the brutal moments in which come into light during the later third of the film. With a standard premise, an unusually calm and eccentric villain, and an imposing muscle-bound enforcer, this spy movie has a great deal to be appreciative of. Lensed in the familiar Eurospy style and steep in lore of its espionage brethren, Mission Hong Kong is an enjoyable entry in the Eurospy canon and one that will put a smile across your face more then a few times, especially if you like bad guys who keep armadillos as a pets. Say what!?!?!

The film begins with the extraction of a prominent nuclear scientist named Prof. Larsen, from a Chinese prison, by the hands of a clan of judo experts and by the planning of Agent Z51. Unfortunately, before Larsen can be transported back to America, Z51 is murdered, leaving the plans for Larsen's ultimate escape to fall to ruins. Hearing the news of Z51's death, the US Secret Service enlists their top man to the case, Robert Manning, AKA Agent Z55. Landing in Hong Kong, Manning must locate the now hidden Prof. Larsen while dishing out a sweet plate of revenge for his fellow fallen agent, but things aren't as easy as they first appear to be. For one thing there is a suspicious pair of locals, Su Ling and the gargantuan To-go, who have an unusual interest in Manning's presence in Hong Kong. There's also the simple fact that Prof. Larsen could be hidden anywhere and Manning has little to nothing to go on. What's a secret agent to do?

German Cobos takes on the role of Robert Manning, the headstrong agent who knows all the tricks in the book. This is my first Cobos Eurospy and I have to say that he did a good job as the lead in this film. I'm only aware of one other spy movie that he was in, Blueprint for a Massacre, so I'll be hunting that one down soon. In Mission Hong Kong, Cobos' Robert Manning is a cocky and confident agent who almost comes off as an asshole most of the time, if it wasn't for his witty smart remarks and playful manner. Like most Eurospy heroes, Agent Z55 has a tendency to get into some action packed scenarios and Cobos does a wonderful job in delivering the fast-paced goods and keeping in step with the genre. His character even has the tendency to go a little overboard while duking it out, as will come painfully clear after Manning burns the face of one of his combatants and sends him crying to his death. What a badass! All in all, I'm impressed with my first introduction to German Cobos and I look forward to seeing more of his work in the future.

As for the rest of the crazy bunch that inhabit this motion picture, Yoko Tani takes on the role of Su Ling. At first her character is a mystery, as Manning has no idea if she is friend or foe, but eventually she comes to side with Z55 and his mission, revealing that she was just a victim of circumstance. On the other side of the coin is Milton Reid who plays the role of To-go, a muscle-bound strongman who couldn't be anymore different from Su Ling if he tried. While Su Ling is small, timid and forced to be a part of a nefarious organization, To-go is a beast of a man and willfully participates in the organizations affairs. Reid fits this villainous mold to perfection and takes every opportunity he can in being a thorn in Manning's side. He's an intimidating presence and his facial features are just icing on the already memorable cinematic cake. The leader of this rag-tag group of characters is a man by the name of Barrow, played by Gianni Rizzo. While many Bond-type villains are given a pet to impose fear into their agents, Barrow is instead given one of the most peculiar of animal sidekicks in the form of an armadillo. I shit you not! The dastardly bastard has an armadillo as a pet. Be that as it may, I have to say that unfortunately for Rizzo, this is probably the most memorable thing about his character.

With any grand Eurospy film, you have stupendous locations and visuals to back that up and with Mission Hong Kong you get that with the abundance of all the picturesque landscapes that Hong Kong has to offer. From the bustling atmosphere of the city to the maze-like wooden structures floating on the harbor, the film has a nice diversity with its locations and uses them to great effect. Though the tradition for most Eurospy flicks is to showcase a great array of international vistas, Z55 is content with just basing its espionage-filled antics in Hong Kong and for this film it works. The mission on display is a much more subtle version then we are used to in this genre and it makes sense to scale back the global aspects of the production to fit the scenario. Still, director Roberto Bianchi Montero makes adequate use of his sprawling locales, giving the production a much more broader feel then it has any right to have.

As for the action of Mission Hong Kong, they haven't forgot it, in fact there is a great deal of interesting set-pieces to be witnessed in this humble production. Manning finds himself battling it out in some rather impressive locations, which give way to a great deal of visually alluring moments that make for an impressionable battleground. For instance Agent Z55 has a shootout in a movie theater where he battles thugs behind a projection screen, he has a hair-raising close call at a construction site at night, and an even more enthralling man to man brawl with To-go in a tanker where Manning shows his more savage and resourceful side. All in all, it's safe to say that as the movie moves along, Agent Z55 becomes more and more brutal and violent, which is always a plus in my book.

Agent Z55: Mission Hong Kong is a respectable Eurospy entry that may not be the most robust of the genre, but it still maintains all of the factors that make us love these kind of flicks. From the get go, we are presented a espionage-filled world that is sparse with globetrotting aspects, but what is kept intact is the formula which has spawned a plethora of like-minded genre films that know exactly what the fans want from this type of entry. Agent Z55 beds the ladies, beats the baddies, and saves the day, just as it should be, and director Roberto Bianchi Montero does an excellent job in making it all an enjoyable affair.

When it comes to German Cobos' performance as the super spy Robert Manning, he really gives it his all and throws himself in to the role. The fights are frantic and physical, the shootouts are ruthless and succinct, and the flirtatious interactions are a plenty. Mission Hong Kong also benefits from a commendable supporting cast of characters like Yoko Tani's Su Ling, Milton Reid's To-go, and the blandly depicted, but strangely hypnotic, armadillo lover Barrow, played by Gianni Rizzo. Combine all of these various elements together and you have yourself Agent Z55: Mission Hong Kong, an interesting Eurospy effort that has all of the things that we crave; action, adventure, and babes. This is one mission that's.....

Pay attention to the road asshole!

Umm... How do I put this? There's a dead hooker in my room.

Peek a boo Manning. I see you!

Look at me when I'm talking to you, you bald FREAK!

Hello there sexy lady.

Staring contest.... GO!

Hold it right there mister.

I'll be using you tonight.

Check out the rack on that hose hound.

Manning's gas problem made for an awkward moment.

I outta pop you right in the mouth!

Come here and give me a big hug!

Once again Manning's gas ruins the day.

How about we heat this motherfucker up?

Is that weird little man still watching us?

Knock it off you two and learn to share.

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