Thursday, January 31, 2013

REVIEW: The Mark of Kriminal

The Mark of Kriminal
Director: Fernando Cerchio & Nando Cicero
Year 1968

The Mark of Kriminal is the second and last entry in the Kriminal caper series, featuring a mysterious masked thief named Kriminal who is as cunning as he is debonair. Based on a comic strip of the same name, the film takes place almost directly after the events in the first film, which concluded with the capture of Kriminal, yet it introduces us to the fact that you just can't keep a good criminal down as the master thief is back to his old tricks again. Shot in the same fun and vibrant style as the original, this enjoyable sequel globe-trots from London, to Spain, and to Lebanon, while maintaining enough twists and turns in the narrative to make it a worthy successor to Umberto Lenzi's 1966 effort.

The film follows the exploits of Kriminal as he comes into possession of a Buddha figurine that houses a portion of a treasure map. The quarry of this map just so happens to be a hidden collection of famous paintings made by Goya and Rembrandt, and Kriminal aims to retrieve them by any means necessary. Trouble is that there are two more missing pieces to the map, which are also hidden away inside two other Buddha statues and its up to Kriminal to hunt down the remaining few before anyone else learns of his schemes. Hot on his trail is Inspector Milton, who has not given up his fevered pursuit in bringing Kriminal to justice, while a new foe enters the picture in the form of the vivacious Mara Gitan, a fellow treasure hunter and opportunistic femme fatale who matches Kriminal's moves at every turn. Who will recover the priceless works of art is anyone’s guess, but it's sure to be an entertaining and fun-filled ride.

Glenn Saxson reprises his role as the titular master thief and it seems as if he is rather comfortable with the character in this entry. Though I thoroughly enjoyed his portrayal in the first film, I feel that he brings a bit more personality this time around, allowing for his wit and ingenuity to take center stage. There's no doubt about it, Kriminal is one sly son of a bitch, and Saxson milks this for all its worth. The enormously suave personality of his character is larger than life, showcasing enough charm and charisma that you'd think you stumbled onto a long lost Eurospy gem. One things for certain, Glenn Saxson owns the role of Kriminal for all its worth and after his tremendous efforts in both the original 1966 production and The Mark of Kriminal, he's solidified his position as the ultimate cinematic iteration of the character.

Accompanying Saxson on this wild caper is Helga Line, as she takes on the role of Mara Gitan the sexy seductress who shapes up to be Kriminal's equal. Helga is no stranger to the world of Kriminal, for she played a double role in the 1966 entry as both Inge and Trude, twin sisters who cross paths with Kriminal. In this film her character takes a drastic turn from those other iterations, as she plays more of a thorn in the side of the title character. As dangerous and conniving as she is beautiful, Helga's Mara Gitan character is a sly and illusive one, willing to do all and anything in order to obtain her end goal. The interactions between herself and Saxson are astoundingly fun and it's enthralling to watch the pair lie and cheat their way to the riches, as they vie for position against each other. As always, Helga is a vision to behold and the film gives her ample opportunity in showing off her fashion sense with her various outfits and sometimes lack there of. I've always been a fan of her work ever since I first caught her in The Loreley's Grasp, and in this production she absolutely shines.

As with the first Kriminal film, the movie is filled to the brim with wacky antics and interesting capers. Many of these whimsical moments are provided by the character of Inspector Milton, played by Andrea Bosic. Bosic reprises his role from the original film, bringing that same energized and persistent approach that made his character so enjoyable the first time around. In The Mark of Kriminal, his main antics are centered around the fact that he is engaged to wed and his personal vendetta against Kriminal keeps getting in the way of his wedding day. With a number of memorable moments involving a fiery bride berating him for keeping up this foolhardy quest in bringing Kriminal to justice, Bosic establishes that central thematic arc that was prevalent in the original film while branching out as the movie moves along into rather unexpected territories. His performance in this film is a real treat and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Of course Andrea Bosic isn't the only reason this film is so madcap. The most enjoyable aspects of this production can be attributed to Glenn Saxson's performance and the wild adventures that he gets himself into. From scaring old women to death and then collecting their insurance money, to electrocuting his former lover right before she is about to poison him, to framing a handsome single young man as Kriminal, to basically being an all around cocky sure-headed scoundrel, this film is a roller coaster in depicting the wild nature of Kriminal's world and more-so his questionable persona. You really have to give it up to the filmmakers for injecting this entry with the same wicked wit and charm that the original had, while still being able to maintain the fun-filled nature that Kriminal encompasses. The Mark of Kriminal has definitely got the goods and then some, so don't let it pass you by.

The Mark of Kriminal is an Italian caper which takes all of the aspects that made the original film so enjoyable, and adds to the formula in some rather stupendous ways. By bringing back Glenn Saxson for the title role and also snagging another opportunity to place Mara Gitan in the world of Kriminal, the filmmakers cemented their success with exquisite precision. Saxson knocks the character out of the park, while Helga spices up the proceedings with her undeniable allure and sexy swagger, making for a cinematic pairing that is absolute bliss. Andrea Bosic is also another returning asset to the production that really adds a great deal of energy to the film.

As for the overall story of The Mark of Kriminal, the treasure hunt mystery is one that will keep you guessing as the story gradually unfolds. In between this globe trotting journey, we are given countless opportunities to see Kriminal in action both in the living flesh and behind the iconic mask. Not only that, but Kriminal has a wild collection of ridiculously fashioned disguises that have to be seen to be believed. What really takes the cake in this production is the utterly, out of left field, ending that literally side-swipes you and pulls the rug out from under you. It's wild and abrupt, but it succinctly puts an end to the proceedings in the most unusual of ways and I'm willing to bet it will get a chuckle out of most who view it. If you're looking for a good time and you thoroughly enjoyed the original Kriminal film, then give this one a go. The Mark of Kriminal is an.....

That's right Kriminal! Get you some!

Kriminal says.... "Cry me a river". What a bastard!

Lady, your hat is almost as stupid as my fake mustache.

I'm giving you a casual middle-finger. Kriminal you bastard!

Sweet Sassafras!!!!

Careful with that Buddha statue you stupid shit!

Ever have sex with a masked weirdo?

What are you looking at four-eyes?

Please don't look at me when I sip my tea.

So is that weird little man with the fez still watching us?

Holy Mary mother of GOD! It's Helga!

Get your feet off of the table you savage!

I think we took a wrong turn. This place is a shithole.

Now that's one hot bookworm.

Talk about the Iron Chic!

Watch the road asshole!

Nobody leaves Helga Line handcuffed to a jeep.... NOBODY!

Let me tell you something buddy.... I'm the MAN!

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