Review Date: 9/18/05
Director: Jean Rollin
Amazingly bad. Until now, I had been under the impression that French director Jean Rollin was a revered horror film legend, but if "The Sidewalks Of Bangkok" are any indication of his filmmaking skills, I'll go out of my way to avoid his work in the future. This film is bad. Unbelievably bad. Bad in every way, except that the actress who plays the lead character (Yoko) is very pretty.
Inspired by "The Mask Of Fu Manchu" (1932), the film concerns the French Secret Service and their attempts to obtain a new secret biological weapon. Their undercover agent in Bangkok died attempting to get the weapon, and his superiors believe that he actually gave it to a prostitute named Eva for safe keeping. The French send their best man, Jacques, to Bangkok to retrieve the precious item from Eva, but another evil agency consisting of female assassins is one step ahead of him. After numerous hardships and humiliations, the gullible and naive Eva eventually escapes the sidewalks of Bangkok and makes her way to France, where more misfortunes await her. Ultimately she's just a pawn in a game of international intrigue, but in a nice twist, she finally comes out on top.
How this movie ever got made and distributed is beyond me. Every aspect is bad, and Rollin's cuts are excruciatingly long. The story is also continually derailed by incomprehensible and laboriously long sex scenes, which makes you think that you're watching a skin flick instead of a murder mystery. The most incongruous piece, though, is a female mud wrestling match that's just randomly inserted into the film. Huh?!? What does this have to do with anything? It doesn't involve any of the characters in the film and it's not clear where it's even taking place. The whole Bangkok angle is completely absurd, and the only international flavor that the film has is a collection of boring 8mm travel footage that was shot in Thailand. Ugh. Sex and nudity run rampant through the film, as well as a very subtle hint of lesbianism, but the execution is woefully inadequate. Sadly, Rollin's camera can't even make a beautiful woman like Yoko interesting. I do wonder if I'm being overly harsh about the film without considering its age, but even for the mid 1980's it seems unusually bad. Even the music is painful to listen to. Try your best to avoid it.