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)


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 coöperate. 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 fiancée, 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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