Posts Tagged ‘eye contact’

“Bakumatsu Gijinden Roman” — ‘A Lavish Banquet for Guys in Trouble’

Baku­mat­su Gijin­den Roman is a fan­ta­sy tale set in late 19th Cen­tu­ry Japan. When the black ships returned to Japan in the 19th Cen­tu­ry, the 200 year old rule of the Shogun was over­turned, and with it came mass social insta­bil­i­ty and ram­pant crime. For­tu­nate­ly the peo­ple one town have a Robin Hood-like pro­tec­tor, Roman, who is actu­al­ly “Mis­ter Helper” by day. Aid­ing Roman is his sis­ter Koharu (dressed as a nin­ja) and their cute dog Saku­ra (dis­guised with a ker­chief over his head). There’s also a full cast of char­ac­ters sup­port­ing him, where­as oth­ers are hunt­ing him and some whose motives are still unknown.

This is Roman on the left, in dis­guise, and his sis­ter Koharu beside him. In the mid­dle is Suzu­ki Magoichi,  the new inves­ti­ga­tor with a hid­den mis­sion and a mas­ter of gun-fu. To the right of him is the mys­te­ri­ous geisha Lady Oku­ma with a hid­den agen­da her­self, and on the far right is prob­a­bly the vil­lian’s com­e­dy relief hench­man.


‘A Lavish Banquet for Guys in Trouble’

The episode opens with mas­ter thief Ishikawa Gojue­mon gloat­ing over the suc­cess of his most recent rob­bery at the behest of Lady Oku­ma. What he stole was­n’t revealed, but his reward was a night with her, which did­n’t exact­ly turn out all that well: he winds up drugged and par­a­lyzed, lay­ing on the mat­ting, and they the geisha leans over him, catch­ing his gaze as her eyes turn into hyp­not­ic kalei­do­scope pat­terns. In the next scene, the poor thief is wan­der­ing the streets of the city in a daze, until he is noticed by the police, upon which starts to wake up but the image of her eyes is too strong and he dives into the riv­er to his death.

And what was stolen? It was a map of the coun­try, the most com­plete map ever made, describ­ing every nat­ur­al land­mark and water­way, an essen­tial source of infor­ma­tion for any invad­ing army, and just it so hap­pens there is a West­ern mil­i­tary force already estab­lished in a hid­den fortress near­by, where the mys­te­ri­ous geisha has just deliv­ered it. Roman and com­pa­ny have to invade the fortress and retrieve the map to save Japan from inva­sion. Magoichi is also involved, as his mys­te­ri­ous supe­ri­or orders the death of the fortress com­man­der. From then on, the map switch­es hands sev­er­al times until the fortress com­man­der rides away with it, prov­ing in the process that he, too, is a mas­ter of gun-fu.

Com­men­tary: If the char­ac­ters, espe­cial­ly Roman, and the over­all theme of the series appears to resem­ble Lupin III, it is because both were the visu­al cre­ations of Mon­key Punch. Whether Roman is sup­posed to be an ances­tor of Lupin is doubt­ful, giv­en the time frame, as Lupin III grand­fa­ther, the orig­i­nal Lupin, was French.

Doing What I Love Doing — Media Research and Queries

This evening I got some­thing that I not only like doing but wish I would get more of in the future: a request for infor­ma­tion about a par­tic­u­lar media item involv­ing hyp­no­sis. As a result, I was able to learn a lit­tle more infor­ma­tion about this item than I pre­vi­ous­ly possessed.

The item in ques­tion was a sto­ry from the adven­ture / crime / detec­tive com­ic strip “Rip Kir­by”. Rip is a detec­tive in the ‘old school’ pat­tern of the ‘think­ing man’s’ detec­tive although as an ex-Marine he was pret­ty good with his fists or a pis­tol. Assist­ing him was his ‘gen­tle­man’s gen­tle­man’ but­ler Desmond (who was a for­mer safe­crack­er.) Rip Kir­by was cre­at­ed by Alex Ray­mond in 1946 and was in con­tin­u­ous pub­li­ca­tion until the char­ac­ter retired in 1999.

All the per­son mak­ing the request had was a gen­er­al descrip­tion of the par­tic­u­lar sto­ry line, but it was one that I was famil­iar with. As a result of the minor bit of research, I was able to deter­mine the exact pub­li­ca­tion dates for the story.

The sto­ry involved a woman, Made­line Mes­mer, who was inex­plic­a­bly win­ning as a casi­no owned by a friend of Kir­by, who asked him to inves­ti­gate. As you might expect from the wom­an’s name, she was a pow­er­ful hyp­no­tist who used post-hyp­not­ic sug­ges­tions to help her win at black­jack. Unfor­tu­nate­ly for Miss Mes­mer, she also attract­ed some unwel­come gang inter­est and ulti­mate­ly found her­self iso­lat­ed because of the mis­use of her powers.

The sto­ry was pub­lished from June 11, 1979 through August 8, 1979, run­ning only 60 days, mak­ing the sto­ry very short in com­par­i­son to oth­er sto­ries. It did, how­ev­er, has sev­er­al scenes of Miss Mes­mer wield­ing her hyp­not­ic skills on sev­er­al peo­ple, includ­ing Rip and Desmond. By strange coin­ci­dence, I hap­pened to see a col­lec­tion of the ear­li­er com­ic strips (mid-1950’s) at a local com­ic store just a few days ago and had won­dered then when the strip would appear: now that I know exact­ly when it was pub­lished, I expect it will be sev­er­al years before this par­tic­u­lar one will be reprint­ed. And it was all because some­one had a ques­tion for me to answer.

“The Brides of Fu Manchu” (1966)

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The mas­ter of evil takes a harem of horror! 

Would-be world con­queror Fu Manchu returns, hold­ing the beau­ti­ful daugh­ters (are there ever any oth­ers?) of impor­tant sci­en­tists in order to black­mail their fathers. With their help, he is able to con­struct a device capa­ble of trans­mit­ting destruc­tive ener­gy from his moun­tain strong­hold any­where in the world. How­ev­er, his eter­nal foe, Sir Den­nis Nay­land Smith, is always ready to con­test the sin­is­ter Man­dar­in’s plot. 

The hyp­not­ic action starts imme­di­ate­ly: sci­en­tist Otto Lentz is brought before Fu Manchu and his sin­is­ter daugh­ter Lin Tang (played by Tsai Chin: it is obvi­ous that she is sup­posed to be Fah Lo Suee.) in a throne room lined with the placid forms of a multi­na­tion­al group of young women, all the “brides” of Fu Manchu. There, he is ordered to coop­er­ate. When he refus­es, his beau­ti­ful daugh­ter Marie is brought forth, look­ing equal­ly as placid, is if drugged. She is led before Lin Tang, who takes the girl’s head in her hands and clos­es the girl’s eyes with her thumbs. When released, Marie opens her eyes to stare direct­ly in the eyes of her cap­tor. Just that eas­i­ly, Marie is under the con­trol of Lin Tang and Fu Manchu. At their direc­tion, she sends anoth­er of the “brides” to her death, and her father is black­mailed with the threat of awak­en­ing her with the full knowl­edge of her action. Only then does the audi­ence get an idea of what the sin­is­ter Man­dar­in’s plot is: the sci­en­tists have all been work­ing on parts of a device that will trans­mit destruc­tive radio waves to any­where in the world. With it, he plans to destroy an upcom­ing arms con­fer­ence, sow­ing dis­or­der and chaos in the West. 

Sir Den­nis Nay­land Smith, how­ev­er, is always there to oppose the sin­is­ter Man­darin, and through his inves­ti­ga­tion into the dis­ap­pear­ances of the “brides” is try­ing to pre­vent the next dis­ap­pear­ance. To that end, he employs the help of Franz Bauer, Marie’s fiancee, and arranges for him to be tak­en in place of the next sci­en­tist on Fu Manchu’s list. Lack­ing the aid of the sci­en­tist, and with Nay­land Smith clos­ing in on both the Lon­don hide­out and Fu Manchu’s hid­den lair, the final assault on the con­fer­ence goes ter­ri­bly awry, as the trans­mit­ter is over­loaded and the entire instal­la­tion destroyed. Befit­ting their sta­tus, Fu Manchu and Lin Tang escape through a secret pas­sage and sur­vive the destruc­tion, in order to return in the next movie. 

There are three oth­er hyp­not­ic scenes: the first, when Lin Tang enters the din­ing room with all of the “brides” to take Otto Lentz away; the sec­ond, when anoth­er of the “brides” is brought before Fu Manchu; and the last is dur­ing the riot when the “brides” attempt to escape. There is also a brief moment at the end of the movie, after all of the “brides” were res­cued and Fu Manchu’s lair destroyed, when they all pause, turn and stare blankly back at the ruin, as if hear­ing the voice of Fu Manchu com­mand­ing them one last time. 

  • In the first, Lentz and Marie are say­ing good­bye when Lin Tang enters the room: at that moment, all of the girls stand and are entranced. Marie, even, is com­plete­ly obliv­i­ous to her father, see­ing and hear­ing only Ling Tang. 
  • In the sec­ond, the bride is ter­ri­fied by the sight of a pit full of snakes, then, in her ter­ri­fied state, is mes­mer­ized by Fu Manchu himself. 
  • In the last, dur­ing the riot as the “brides” are bat­tling the guards. Into that chaos strides Lin Tang, who takes one of the women by the shoul­ders and stares into her eyes, entranc­ing her. How­ev­er, anoth­er of the “brides” sees that and knocks Lin Tang uncon­scious. Not so when the impe­ri­ous Fu Manchu enters, as which point every one of the “brides” falls back into their placid trance state. 

The above clip is actu­al­ly from two dif­fer­ent movies of this series: the first half is from the third movie, “The Vengeance of Fu Manchu”, while the sec­ond half, start­ing at about 0:53, is from this movie, and is a longer and bet­ter ver­sion of the scene shown pre­vi­ous­ly. It also speaks of Marie being “pre­pared” which tends to con­firm that she is some­how drugged. Just ignore the ran­dom clip insert­ed some­how in the middle. 

Com­men­tary: The sec­ond of five Fu Manchu movies star­ring Christo­pher Lee in the title role. “The Brides of Fu Manchu”, a sequel to The Face of Fu Manchu” of the pre­vi­ous year. It has noth­ing to do with the nov­el “The Bride of Fu Manchu”, which is about 

It should be not­ed that this is the first time that Fah Lo Suee (or what­ev­er she is named in the movies) was played by a true Asian actress: before this, the char­ac­ter was always por­trayed by a West­ern actress, includ­ing Myr­na Loy.

Rec­om­men­da­tion: For sheer his­tor­i­cal val­ue, I would rec­om­mend the movie, if it can be found. Christo­pher Lee has a cer­tain amount of sedate fun in this movie, which I believe is the best of the five of this series, and pos­si­bly of all the lat­er Fu Manchu movies, which is not real­ly say­ing much. 

Note: For years, I thought these were Ham­mer films, what with Christo­pher Lee star­ring in them: the look was so sim­i­lar to the Ham­mer style it was pret­ty easy to con­fuse the two, as direc­tor Don Sharp also direct­ed such Ham­mer clas­sics as Rasputin: The Mad Monk” and The Kiss of the Vam­pire” , as well as a num­ber of “Avengers” TV episodes and an episode of the “Ham­mer House of Hor­ror” anthol­o­gy TV series. The “Avengers” con­nec­tion also car­ries over to his Direc­tor oh Pho­tog­ra­phy, Ernest Stew­ard who also worked the series. 

Triv­ia: If you watch care­ful­ly, you will see a some­what famil­iar face: one of the guards, Feng, was played by Burt Kwouk, who is famous for play­ing Cato on the Peter Sell­ers “Pink Pan­ther” movies. Kwouk has a very long act­ing  resumé, includ­ing oth­er Fu Manchu films, and is still work­ing today.

Fa Lo Suee — “Master of Kung Fu”

Daugh­ters of Evil World Con­querors real­ly have only two options in life: be their father’s ador­ing min­ion who ulti­mate­ly falls for the Hero and helps him defeat her father, or strike out on your own and try to out-con­quer him. Fah Lo Suee, daugh­ter of the inscruitable Man­darin Fu Manchu, is entire­ly the lat­ter. But while Fah Lo Suee in the nov­els was more the for­mer, only once real­ly act­ing in the role of con­queror in place of her father, in the Mar­vel com­ic “Shang-Chi, Mas­ter of Kung Fu”, she was a re-occur­ring char­ac­ter with her own agen­da who bat­tled her father as much as she bat­tled her own half-broth­er Shang-Chi.

⇒ Con­tin­ue read­ing “Fa Lo Suee — “Mas­ter of Kung Fu””

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