After the original Seven Golden Men (1965) proved a huge success across Europe and Asia, despite remaining relatively obscure throughout the USA and UK, the producers struck back with this even more flamboyant sequel. Once again, suave criminal mastermind Albert (Philippe Leroy) a.k.a. ‘The Professor’, his glamorous girlfriend Giorgia (Rossana Podesta) and their gang pull off an audacious underground heist only to find the police waiting for them. However, the Professor already knows that the American government want to enlist him and his team to help pull off a mission in the service of world peace. He shrewdly negotiates not just a fee of seven million dollars but the deed to their own private island and a pardon for all their past misdeeds.
Their mission is to kidnap the General (Enrico Maria Salerno), the bushy-bearded dictator of a small Central American island whose resemblance to a certain famous Cuban leader is entirely coincidental. Posing as a photo-journalist from Playgirl (?!), gorgeous Giorgia has no trouble infiltrating the island and seducing the General into a compromising position while the rest of the gang: Adolf (Gastone Moschin), Alfred (Maurice Poli), Alfonso (Manuel Zarzo), Aldo (Gabriele Tinti), August (Giampiero Albertini) and Anthony (Dario De Grassi) set about laying an elaborate trap. But as always the Professor has more than one scheme up his impeccably tailored sleeve.
Bigger is indeed better in this hugely entertaining sequel that outdoes its predecessor in terms of colour, spectacle and ridiculous comic book action. Seven Golden Men Strike Again marked a decisive shift away from the just about feasible Topkapi (1964) styled heist antics of the first film and other Italian caper flicks made around this time, edging closer to the live action fumetti territory of Danger: Diabolik (1968). The screenwriters injected a mildly topical note with the General a broad send-up of Fidel Castro but the film shies away from sociopolitical satire in favour of all-out action and humour. Comparisons have been made with the James Bond movies but while several set-pieces do show the influence of Goldfinger (1964) and Thunderball (1965) (in particular the use of jet-packs, an underwater action sequence and climactic gold bullion heist) the plot is not too dissimilar from an episode of the original Mission: Impossible television series. Of course Peter Graves, Martin Landau and company never lost sight of their original goal and started shooting at each other with machine-guns and bazookas.
There is a slightly cynical edge to the film in that though it seems the golden gang are working for the cause of world peace, it turns out the Professor also has his eye on a Russian cargo freighter carrying several tons worth of gold bullion. However amoral the tone remains playful and light-hearted throughout. As with the first film the fun lies in watching likable albeit one-dimensional rogues playing around with cool comic book gadgetry. Once again Rossana Podesta steals the show as slinky and resourceful femme fatale Giorgia, modelling a figure-hugging catsuit worthy of Catwoman or Emma Peel. Granted her abundant screen-time must have had a lot to do with her being married to director Marco Vicario but in a movie laden with debonair master criminals, she shines in the most memorable scenes facing down a legion of growling guerilla fighters without once breaking a sweat and laughing off torture by poisonous spiders. Giorgia’s seemingly endless supply of eye-poppingly glamorous outfits are worth the price of admission alone, with her amazing gold contact lenses with matching blonde wig especially striking. Vicario does a fine job orchestrating the delightfully improbable but suspenseful set-pieces. Though the film wrong-foots itself somewhat with a closing twist that feels a little forced, the parting message that these harmless crooks love the game much more than the loot remains charming.