‘It all started last year when a stray cat wanted to marry him…’
A top FBI agent is interrupted outside the church when he’s about to be married. The Russians are close to getting their hands on a newly-discovered Uranium deposit deep in the African jungle, and he’s the only man who can stop them. But, before he can begin his mission, he must rescue his two ex-colleagues who are about to be executed in the Far East. Together, they are the ‘Three Fantastic Supermen’…
The third in a series of Italian comedy adventures that began with Gianfranco Parolini’s ‘The Three Fantastic Supermen’ (1967). That film starred Tony Kendall, Brad Harris and Aldo Canti as the title characters: a trio of heroes fighting crime in black capes and bulletproof scarlet body stockings. It was a cheerful cross between a James Bond knock-off, a comic book adventure and a caper movie, and provided a cocktail of mildly diverting, undemanding fun. A sequel ‘3 Supermen a Tokio’ (1968) followed, directed by Bitto Albertini and featuring a new principal cast. This film was the third in the series and saw Harris return from the first film, joining Sal Borgese, George Martin and director Albertini from the second instalment.
Brad Harris is not a happy man. About to tie the knot with his blonde girlfriend, he’s interrupted by men from the ministry, including boss man Colonel Treaps (Pedro Rodríguez de Quevedo). He insists that Harris is the only agent who can foil the Commie’s invasion of the dark continent, and appeals to his sense of duty. Eventually, Harris pretends to agree but plans to give him the slip, arranging to hook up with his bride later on, but the Colonel is too smart for him. Instead, he ends up kitted out like an Apollo astronaut and blasted off in a rocket (courtesy of some reasonably-priced local film library). It was 1970, so I guess moon rockets were the transport of choice.
The first part of Harris’ mission is to rescue ex-teammates Borgese and Martin from the firing squad of a local desert chieftain. We never find out why they’ve been condemned to death, which should raise an early red flag when it comes to the scriptwriting department. Similarly, we never find out the source of animosity between Harris and his old friends, beyond the fact that he’s all about the mission, and they’d rather be scoring some easy cash. Having said all that, Harris does crash the firing party courtesy of an underground tunnelling machine which is a nice touch, if poorly realised.
Unfortunately, these early scenes turn out to be the highlights of the film by far. Once our heroic trio make it to Africa and run across the obligatory lost tribe of white-skinned lovelies in fur bikinis, the story grinds to a halt and ends up as little more than an apparent rip-off of ‘Carry On Up The Jungle’ (1970), although this film actually arrived in cinemas a few weeks earlier. Yes, the tribe’s queen (Femi Benossi) falls in love with Harris. Yes, Borgese ends up in a large cooking pot, courtesy of the local cannibals. Yes, there’s a joke involving a rubber crocodile. Yes, the cannibals play musical instruments made from human bones while the girls do a vaguely suggestive dance, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…
Of course, it’s both sexist and racist, but these elements are more of a reflection of the lazy thinking of the time that the film was made, rather than elements delivered with any malicious intent. What’s arguably even worse is how predictable, weary and plain boring it all is. Not only are all the jokes telegraphed well in advance, but they are so old that they probably need to be carbon dated to establish their origin.
The film plays very much like they wasn’t any finished shooting script and the cast had to improv various loosely-connected gags and scenes in order to drag the film bodily toward the 90 minute finishing line. It’s only Borgese’s athletic efforts at slapstick that prevent the onset of audience coma and it’s a close-run thing. Harris in particular tries hard, but there’s simply no-life in such a threadbare script and his impersonation of an oriental in the film’s closing scenes might have kept him awake in later years.
The series carried on for another two films, minus Harris who must have thought better of it. Borgese and Albertini were still on board for ‘Supermen Against The Orient’ (1973) (a distinct improvement on this) and Borgese and a returning Martin reunited with a new director for ‘Three Supermen In The West’ (1973), which saw the trio back in the Old West, courtesy of a time machine. Albertini also gave the world strange ‘Star Wars’ (1977) rip off ‘Escape From Galaxy 3’ (1981) which was a mixture of kiddie-friendly sci-fi and soft-core porn. That was a more interesting film than this one, if not necessarily for the right reasons.
A painful slog. Not recommended.