Monday, October 25, 2010

Summons to Death (1967) with Fanny Fan

A 1967 caper flick, Summons to Death features director Lo Wei in an acting role as well as the delectable Fanny Fan in a supporting one.

Most of what I know about Fanny Fan is thanks to duriandave's wonderful Soft Film blog. Heck, I first watched Les Belles (1960) without paying much attention to the her. It wasn't until my 2nd viewing of the Lin Dai feature that I paid more attention to the actress.

Which is odd because she's a Mamie Van Doren-like bombshell!

So, Summons to Death opens almost like a sequel to another film, or the 2nd chapter of an old serial. A pirate (Ma Ying) is kicking back with Fanny Fan on his yacht when a girl sneaks in, steals a map, and another set of guys raid the boat. There's a fight, villains fleeing, and a treasure map is stolen and then the boat blows up and the credits -- with a very Peter Gunn-like theme -- roll.

Later, big mobster/tycoon Brother Gin (Lo Wei) shows up at Poon's (Ku Feng) house to discuss the treasure map. Poon calls Ma Loong (Cheung Kwong-Chiu) and the gang is starting to come together again.

Then the scene switches to the lair of agent Tang Lui, The Owl (Tang Ching), who's got the requisite James Bond-inspired gadgets -- I liked the steambox with the human hands coming out of the wall to give the guy a head massage!

Really, this is a campfest and not to be taken too seriously which is why Summons to Death is such a fun film.

So circus performer -- or is that a cover? -- Tina Chin Fei is approached by Ku Feng as a reporter -- a cover -- to find her brother (Lo Wei).

Then we switch to a nightclub where Fanny Fan sings a song in a barely-there outfit.

Anyway, there are crosses and double-crosses and then there's more intrigue as Tina Chin Fei and Tang Lui's The Owl team-up.

I especially loved the blatant steal of John Barry's score to You Only Live Twice near the middle of the movie. Hey, at least it was another spy film so the music definitely fit.

Summons to Death is a solid caper flick, nothing too ambitious. For me to rattle off more of the plot would ruin some of the film's surprises, I think.

I watched it on VCD, but you can order Summons to Death on DVD here.