tisdag 22 maj 2012

Top Secret (คนเหนือคน, 1967)

I love the armada of James Bond rip-offs that came during the sixties. 1967 was a practically good year with new Bonds from all over the world. Thailand, with their leading man and ultimate movie star, Mitr Chaibancha also had to jump on bandwagon and produced several very inspired movies in this genre. Operation Bangkok, a co-production with Hong Kong might have been the best one, but Top Secret is a very charming and confusing entry. The story is kinda convoluted, but my guess is...

... that super-villain Kecha Plianvithee wants to rob the world of a lot of gold. Maybe to build an even bigger crime syndicate. He has his own army of actually very cute soldiers and the usual easily fooled femme fatale girlfriend that gets dumped in the end. But beware, heroic cop/agent Chaibancha is after him! Thanks to Sombat Metanee, who's undercover inside Kecha's crime syndicate, he gets inside - but gets caught and spend most of the time in a cell, doing gymnastics and flirting with the female guards! Eventually the baddie is traced to his island (what else) and the action starts!

Okay, there is action even before the ending - a couple of fun fist fights and some chases, but the money and time is spent on the low budget spectacular war scenes with tanks, soliders, helicopters, boats etc. It looks good! The movie also starts with some very nice-looking aerial scenes involving fighter airplanes. My wild guess is that the Thai army sponsored this movie both with vehicles and men.

What's interesting is that Chaibancha kinda takes the backseat in Top Secret. He's always there, but mostly talking or looking at other people, and Sombat - who looks terribly young at the tender age of thirty - takes care of most the action and even has a very cute and romantic song-number in honour of some girl he's interested in. And don't forget, his famous curl is always there to set the hearts of teenaged girls (and gay men I guess) on fire:

Even of the story itself is quite generic, Top Secret still have a couple of wonderful and bizarre set-pieces. The song-number by Sombat is nice, but we're also treated to a big song- and dance-number on rollerskates! If every movie had that! Top Secret is also filled with the ancient and prestigious art of killing dummies. Yes, stunt-dummies pretending to me real humans are thrown from houses and cliffs and blown to pieces by hand grenades. Always a welcome sight and during many years a tradition in the real Bond-movies. I mean, we all know they're not killing people for real so why not go all out with limbless dummies? I dig it! You dig it! Another awesome sequence is when Chaibancha falls down a trapdoor and ends up in a really "far-out-man" psychedelic room belonging to the super-villain. And it seems to hurt when he glides down on that metallic slide!

Top Secret is a groovy, action-filled slice of sixties action. Not unique, but it has a lot of entertainment value and not bad production values. I have a bootleg DVD (ripped from the official VCD) and the quality is terrible. It looks like an army of dwarfs first tap-danced on the print for a few hours and then put under water for 25 years. But it's possible it watch it and it's not un-sharp. Just VERY scratched.