Death Dimension (1978)

Death_Dimension_(1978)‘There’s a very funny smell in the air and all the stink’s coming from the Pig.’

A brilliant scientist experimenting with weather control has invented a ‘freeze bomb’ but realises his work is going to be used for evil purposes by The Pig. His assistant’s goes on the run with the secret and a top cop who specialises in martial arts is given the job of bringing her in.

Jim Kelly was International Middleweight Karate Champion in 1971 as well as being a tennis pro. In 1973, he appeared in a leading role in Bruce Lee’s classic final film ‘Enter the Dragon’ (1973) and his own movie career was launched. Kelly played ‘Black Belt Jones’ (1974) in a series of films and he was heavily featured in several other ‘Blaxploitation’ flicks of the time. And it’s not hard to see why. As well as bringing his formidable physical skills to the table, Kelly had an easy, laid back charisma on screen (even if he was never required to do much acting) and he often outshone better known performers, who were often taking a paycheque on their way down the Hollywood food chain.

Here, Kelly reunited with low end filmmaker Al Adamson (‘Horror of the Blood Monsters’ (1970)), having worked with him before on ‘Black Samurai’ (1976). Even though the two films are very similar, it still must have seemed like the big time to Adamson. He had a budget (of sorts), stars (kind of) and a killer screenplay with non-stop thrills and action (well, not really). Actually, it’s just 90 minutes of relentless, grinding mediocrity as one pointless action scene follows another and the plot goes nowhere.

But what about the star-studded supporting cast? We get George ‘Bond’ Lazenby as Kelly’s boss and Terry Moore, the girl who originally starred opposite ‘Mighty Joe Young’ (1949). We also have Hollywood veteran Aldo Ray (‘We’re No Angels (1955), ‘The Naked and the Dead’ (1958)) giving it his best shot in a nothing role as a foreign buyer interested in the ‘freeze bomb’. But, best of all, the villainous Pig is portrayed by Harold ‘Odd Job’ Sakata (that’s how he’s billed, folks!) Unfortunately, it turns out that he was far more adept with a bowler hat than a line of dialogue.

Death_Dimension_(1978)

‘For the last time, kelly, I’ve never come across the guy in the bowler hat before. You’re thinking of that other fellow…talk to him…’

Although the Professor’s assistant (not his daughter for once) makes a feisty heroine, nearly all the other female characters are faceless prostitutes, save for Kelly’s girlfriend and even she gets a tasteless nude scene. So proceedings are not exactly enlightened, although Kelly does seem to be genuinely broken up about what happens to his squeeze. Well, for about ten seconds anyway, until someone takes a shot at him in the hospital car park and then we’re off again into another aimless action scene with no consequences.

But it’s the martial arts stuff we’ve come for, right? And here Kelly delivers (particularly with the nunchucks), although the combat is staged with little imagination. Our hero is backed up by Myron Bruce Lee (that’s how he’s billed, folks!) who drifts in and out of the film, as if he just turned up for an afternoon’s shooting. As per usual, everyone is incapable of covering someone else with a gun and the idea that the portly Sakata can outdistance Kelly in a footrace and stand up against him in a fight is plainly ridiculous.

And just what does the title mean? Your guess is as good as mine…

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