A portly, perspiring tourist arrives in Hong Kong and takes a taxi around the island, but there is someone following him. It's true there is a secret reason for him to be there, and he fears for his life, so he takes a piece of paper while in the back seat and scribbles a quick message on it, then places it in an envelope which he seals and gives to the driver to pass on to the right person. In the meantime, they reach the hotel and the fat man makes his way up to the top floor, then commits the grievous error of venturing out onto the balcony which sees him easily toppled over the barrier to his death on the concrete below. But that envelope has gotten away, as the taxi driver hands it over to the police...
If producer Harry Alan Towers had a knack for anything in his extensive filmography, it was persuading some fairly big names to appear in his movies. Fair enough, as was the case here most weren't particularly at the height of their fame when they wound up in his efforts, but the promise of combining work with a nice holiday in a picturesque location was enough temptation for those stars to sign the contract and jet off to wherever Towers had made his deals to shoot his films, which in this case was taking advantage of the Shaw Brothers facilities in Hong Kong. The main star leading the way this time? In his last theatrical movie before his career wound down into a few television appearances, Robert Cummings.
Except since he considered this strictly lighthearted fare he went by the abbreviated name Bob Cummings. He was something of an eccentric, a deeply conservative chap who nevertheless was married five times and was best known in his private life for his dedication to health food, popping vitamin pills like there was no tomorrow throughout his life. That offbeat, slightly dizzy charm served him well in the comedic roles which suited him best as his sunny demeanour lifted unpromising projects such as a convoluted crime adventure where parting the punters from their ticket money was more important that telling a coherent story; projects such as the Edgar Wallace adaptation Five Golden Dragons.
Cummings was playing Bob Mitchell, a tourist introduced to us lounging by the hotel pool until sisters (in the plot) Maria Rohm and Maria Perschy show up and create a minor commotion, even knocking his waterproof camera into the water. Rohm's Ingrid is keen to hang around with Bob, but sister Margret is reluctant, conveying an oddly haunted quality as if someone is out to get them - events conspire to place them together again and again, however, especially when the cops show up to inquire of Bob why his name was on the envelope the taxi driver was given. He doesn't know, and to be honest after watching this you may still be none the wiser as juggling the plot points and stars together was something beyond the script, penned by Towers under his usual pseudonym.
Anyway, the message reads simply "Five Golden Dragons", which you may recall is the title of the movie. Then follows a bunch of assassinations and chases the celebs get embroiled with, the police represented by a Shakespeare-quoting Rupert Davies, then and now considered the greatest of T.V.'s detective Maigrets, and his second in command Roy Chiao, who you may remember from the phrase, "Nice try, Lao Che!", for it was he. The baddies were even starrier, as Klaus Kinski skulked about threatening Margret and chainsmoking as the right hand man of the Dragons, who turned out not to be a takeaway restaurant but a coterie of international criminals who have never met. When they do finally assemble they sport some of the strangest dragon masks you ever did see to hide their identities, and when they remove them you half expect them to go, "Hey, you're Brian Donlevy!", "Christopher Lee, as I live and breathe!", "George Raft, I thought you were dead!" and so forth. Anyway, their bit was obviously filmed in a weekend for this light, daffy romp. Music by Malcolm Lockyer.
[Network's Region 2 DVD as part of their British Film line has an audio interview with director Summers and a trailer as extras, and the print looks very good for its age.]