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  Mister Deathman In Dire Need Of A Theme Song
Year: 1977
Director: Michael D. Moore
Stars: David Broadnax, Stella Stevens, Arthur Brauss, Lena Farugia, Brian O'Shaughnessy, Ian Hamilton, Len Sparrowhawk, Bill Curry, Ronald France, Larry Taylor, Ian Yule, Ken Gampu, Gordon Mulholland, Marius Weyers, Victor Melleny, Myra Shelton
Genre: Action, Trash, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: Special Agent Geoffrey Graves (David Broadnax) has just received an offer from a Colonel to do a job for him, but he has turned him down without even asking what it entailed because he has decided recently he has retired. However, on walking away from the office where the meeting took place, he is accosted by a couple of goons working for the organisation he was supposed to be investigating, and they attack him in the underground car park of the building. They leave him for unconscious, but he tracks them to the elevator and stalls it between floors, then attacks them back with a fire extinguisher - you can't keep a good man down.

David Broadnax only really had two films to his name, this would-be James Bond rip-off and Zombie Island Massacre in the following decade which wasn't much better than this bargain basement affair, but he gave it a try and had a leading role, devised by himself, in this no matter how shoddy it was. Curiously, though it aped the blaxploitation efforts of the earlier nineteen-seventies, it was a South African film, meaning you worry for the African American leading man more when he was, say on a whites-only beach for a scene than you would had he been making the same story in the United States or Europe.

Anywhere that didn't have the fascist South African government's policy of apartheid in place, which you would have thought would hamper any attempts to make a movie that had a black superman in what one supposed was the title role, especially when he makes quick work of beating up the honkies and even executing them if need be. Possibly this was allowed because that nation's film industry was so desperate for custom that they would turn a blind eye to Broadnax's ethnicity, or possibly this production was done on the cheap, so were turning their own blind eyes to the authorities' practices and campaigns of violence.

Whichever, it was more interesting than watching Mister Deathman, an item that featured action and adventure yet merely the barest minimum of excitement. Not helping was Graves' vulnerability, which took the form of him getting either knocked out or kidnapped - or both - every ten to fifteen minutes, which did not exactly bolster your faith in him as an agent of any great aptitude. I mean, he doesn't get caught in a net once, it happens twice, which was twice too many if we were intended to be filled with admiration for this fine figure of a man who it transpired was about as good at his job as an agent in a 007 spoof would have been. He didn't even get a roster of snappy lines to fire off, surprising when it was Broadnax who had a hand in actually writing the thing.

The plot, assuming you could follow it, had Graves travelling to Africa much as Shaft had in recent memory to get back a file of secret plans for a space shuttle of some description (the real one was in the news in the late seventies, for good, optimistic, reasons rather than bad), which has something to do with a kidnapped scientist. But it resembled more a succession of bits and pieces that looked as if they should have been connected in some way, but good luck working out how - Stella Stevens, closest person this had to a star in the cast, showed up halfway through as a mistress of a coterie of what appeared to be secretaries, though what she needed a riding crop for was another mystery, and the scenes she shared with Broadnax hinted at what might have been, they generated a couple of sparks. Otherwise, the most notable element was (spoiler) the big bad villain was not a human but a supercomputer which didn't have the decency to so much as explode at the climax, though other things did. Strictly for Bondage completists.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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