Friday, December 16, 2016
Wonder Women (1973)
No, Google, I mean Wonder Women, not Woman! God, it was hard trying to look up this movie without being deluged by results of Wonder Woman!
On a secluded tropical island off the coast of the Philippines, the evil Dr. Tsu is conducting ghastly experiments, with the end goal of devising a viable form of immortality through brain transplant. She procures younger and fitter bodies by kidnapping athletes, and this gets the attention of an insurance company, which hires investigator Mike Harber to investigate the case. He soon discovers how dangerous his new task is when he's up against Dr. Tsu's evil gang of superwomen!...
Wonder Women is a lot of fun, but it is a mixed bag. The movie is certainly enjoyable, with a simple yet effective story. As for my issue with it, it's not that the film has bad pacing, but rather bad story progression. Mike's only lead in his case is a fictitious funeral home name, which he ambles around in Manila searching for the origin of, before getting involved in a 10 minute chase scene! The only reason he gets further involved when he does is because one of Tsu's assassin women tries to kill him, and he manages to capture her. Even then, he only truly enters into into the main story 25/30 minutes before the end! He also has no final battle with Dr. Tsu, the movie instead baiting for a sequel that never happened.
Another problem is that there's nowhere near enough of the all-lady hit-squad. During most of Mike's stay in Manila, he's only set upon by random Filipino dudes, or the one assassin lady. In fact, so much time passes that I forgot which of the women was the psycho one, and which she had a grudge with! I'm not even sure that plot point is paid off.
Thankfully, come the end, the women who switch sides are pretty proactive in helping Mike out, rescuing him from Tsu's evil clitches*, and taking out many henchwomen. However, they're also a couple of 'geniuses' who create a diversion that is highly likely to get them killed, and in fact does with one of 'em! The main assassin lady on Mike's side is seemingly abruptly killed out of nowhere, and her death is never addressed, nor is she mentioned again, with Mark shacking up with the other assassin lady who helped them out at the eleventh hour, without a word! Our 'hero'!
*I swear to god that awful pun was a typo, but it fits so well with that character!!
Mike Harber is an ok lead, and while not the most likeable of guys, he's amusing to watch at times, whether intentionally or unintentionally, like with all-smiles-and-chuckles attitude in incredibly grim situation (Stop grinning when the crazy lady talks about using your body for mad science, you creep!) or his 'expert' pick-up line. Mike:"Y'know, you've got great legs, baby."-Linda: "Thank you."-Mike: "But they're too long. I don't like long legs. They get in the way.". In case you were wondering, this immediately nets him sex!
Wonder Women looks really good! The Philippines are already a nifty location for a movie, but Wonder Women goes beyond that, showing some really great vistas! Dr. Tsu's headquarter's also look great! The rest of the effects vary from very good to decent. Dr. Tsu's mutants are well-realized (especially the clear veiny one). The bad doctor's surgery costumes look a little hokey though.
The acting is all pretty good. Ross Hagen (also the film's producer) of Sidehackers fame, plays the lead hero, and while the character isn't particularly likeable, he does a fine enough job. Nancy Kwan is neat as the villainous Dr. Tsu.
There are plenty of recognizable faces here, like Sid Haig (awesomely named Gregorious), and a younger Vic Diaz! (Credited as Dias for some reason). They turn in great performances. Haig looks surprisingly different! He has no goatee or beard, but rather a full-on porn stache, and he has a full head of hair, and is dressed in a dapper outfit! He's almost unrecognizable! It seems like he's going to have a major role, but he vanishes from the movie for around 45 minutes. He returns though, sure enough. I'm also glad at what becomes of him at the climax! Unlike Sid Haig, Vic Diaz has quite a substantial role as the helpful cabbie, who thankfully doesn't die!...Though unfortunately he vanishes from the proceedings once the characters reach the island.
The rest of the acting ranges from decent to not that great. Maria de Aragon is ok as Linda, but she ends up being replaced by a marginally poorer actress, though one with extremely impressive...errr...assets!
Wonder Women's score is uber funkoriffic! I especially dug the closing theme, too! The main theme, a 70's funk tune sung by Annette Thomas is pretty good too, even if it does make one fall under the impression that the titular wonder women are the heroes, rather than the murderous villains they really are. Annoyingly though there's some somewhat poor sound balancing here and there. There's one part of the film regarding sound I REALLY loved, and that's just before the final fight, when the rousing action music quietens, then stops, the alarm sirens still blaring as Mike descends to the final confrontation. The mood was really well thanks to that touch.
Wonder Women isn't perfect, but it's still well worth a watch! I had lots of fun with it, and I'm sure you will too...