Wednesday, January 16, 2013

El Ultimo Kamikaze

                                                   Director: Paul Naschy
                                Starring: Paul Naschy, Iran Eory, Manuel Tejada

Been meaning to review a Paul Naschy film for some time. Ever since I caught 'Frankenstein's Bloody Terror' (aka Mark of the Wolfman) on T.V. as a youngin', I always had a curiosity about Mr. Naschy. His werewolf portrayal was and is in my opinion, the most brutal and most frightening lycanthrope ever commited to film. For the longest time, it was the only one of his films I ever caught. Not until the late '80s did I begin to hunt down his other horror films on old beat up vhs bootlegs. But despite my efforts this one, 'El Ultimo Kamikaze' remained aloof. So rare was this one back then that I couldn't even find a plot description. Judging by the title, I had assumed it was a WW2 action flick. When I finally got my hands on a semi-decent (and sadly untranslated) print, I discovered that it was nothing of the kind...

Striking me as a sort of low rent Jean Pierre Melville homage, 'El Ultimo Kamikaze' features a pair pf rival hitmen on a collision course. One of them (Naschy) is haunted by memories of his father, an SS enforcer.

Naschy uses this premise as a means to stage as many 'hits' as possible. All obviously carefully planeed, yet somewhat hampered by poor editing and lack of buildup. Still, it is worth checking out for the many oddball disguises that our writer/director/star dons. These include what can be described as a homeless version of Gandalf from Lord of the Rings (and the sight of him speeding away on a motorcycle, still in this getup is one you will not soon forget), a plummer (his victim is appropriately sitting on the toilet at the moment of his demise) and most memorably (though not in a good way) as a woman (making the likes of Dame Edna look attractive by comparison). All of these are shot without even the slightest hint of tongue in cheek parody. Of course, he also dons the titled Japanese warrior outfit for his climatic showdown but due to the lack of an English translation, I'm not exactly sure why.

Though it should have been livelier and more exciting than it was, 'El Ultimo Kamikaze' is worth seeing as a Naschy oddity. As one of two Japanese co-productions (the other being the admittedly far superior 'Beast and the Magic Sword' which posits Naschy's werewolf in feudal Japan - now why the hell didn't I review that film?!), it's worth catching for fans of this unique character who are in the mood for something a little different.

... and those disguises...

                                                                     Rating: 5/10

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