Death Is Nimble, Death Is Quick (1966)

Death Is Nimble, Death Is Quick (1966)‘There’s a frightening monster there! I’ve heard how it breathes fire and big trees the size of houses are crushed by it. That’s why they call it Death Lake.’ 

A U.S. Police Captain is dragged into a local murder when visiting Singapore on assignment. Washington sends special agent Joe Walker to the scene and the two team up again to fight the bad guys.

Th third in the Eurospy ‘Kommissar X’ series moves a step away from straight James Bond knock off territory to embrace Martial Arts, probably at the prompting of co-star Brad Harris, who worked on the fight choreography for the series. So the film abandons much of the gadget play/super villain trappings for a crime story where our heroes take on the ‘Three Yellow Cats’, a local syndicate, whose aim is more plain old extortion than world domination. However, there is a definite nod to ‘Dr. No’ (1962) in some later scenes set in a ‘haunted’ swamp. The inclusion of Karate (the gang’s weapon of choice) is unusual and a little ahead of its time. It makes for the film’s standout scene; the climactic face-off between Harris and the gang’s chief assassin in a crumbling mountain temple. Sadly, this is immediately followed by ‘dummy falling off a cliff’ which is not quite so impressive.

And that’s about your lot really. This is drab, dreary stuff, so clumsily plotted that it never achieves any internal logical or real audience engagement. The story rambles lazily from one barely connected scene to another with characters being almost randomly introduced and then discarded as quickly. I wouldn’t be too surprised if the script was written ‘on the fly’ when the filmmakers arrived on location and saw what they had to work with. Story exposition is poorly delivered and dialogue is often clumsy, as if it were taken from an early draft.

Death Is Nimble, Death Is Quick (1966)_2

Kendall and Harris investigate another important clue…

The Singapore locations are different, which is nice, but that’s not much compensation for the general untidiness on display. Kendall is reliably smug in the lead and still tugs his right ear lobe a lot (I guess it was a character trait) and Harris is his usual stoic self. The two shared some screen chemistry but efforts at playing them as a light comedy duo here have little impact.

There were four more films in the series, but given the dip in quality here, it’s quite frightening to consider what the later entries might be like.

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