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  Booted Babe, Busted Boss Wiggle-wiggle dippy doo-dah!
Year: 1968
Director: Jun Fukuda
Stars: Akira Takarada, Beverly Maeda, Tomomi Sawa, Andrew Hughes, Makoto Sato, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Nadao Kirino, Sachio Sakai, Toru Ibuki, Seishiro Kuno, Mari Sakurai
Genre: Comedy, Action, Thriller, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: In an unnamed Middle Eastern country a helicopter chases a Japanese chauffeur across the desert dunes eventually impaling then hoisting the corpse into the air by grappling hook. It turns out the dead man learned too much about a gold-smuggling ring operating in the area. His tearful pigtailed little daughter (Mari Sakurai) happens to run into ace assassin and Interpol agent Andrew Hoshino (Akira Takarada), now sporting a snazzy red hat, honing his skills at a local shooting gallery. The child offers the only money she has, a silver dollar, if he will help her take revenge on syndicate hit-man Kurokawa (Yoshio Tsuchiya). Nice guy Andy agrees but before he can act narrowly escapes assassination via an exploding bouquet of flowers unwittingly delivered by sexy chanteuse Mitsuko (Tomomi Sawa). Before long Andy gets mixed up with a bunch of characters with different motivations: his old pal Inspector Tezuka (Makoto Sato) wants to take down the syndicate lawfully, Mitsuko wants him as her partner in a cross-country charity race to promote her latest pop single, while sexy (of course) mod hit-woman Ruby (Beverly Maeda) seems to be working for the bad guys but may have an entirely different agenda.

Jun Fukuda's sequel to 100 Shot, 100 Killed (1965) saw super-suave Akira Takarada reprise his role as unflappable half-French Interpol assassin Andrew Hoshino sadly minus gorgeous girl sidekick Mie Hama. In her place we have Beverly Maeda a.k.a. Bibari Maeda best known as the plucky jungle girl from Fukuda's Son of Godzilla (1967). Two more Godzilla alumni round out the cast: Yoshio Tsuchiya and Andrew Hughes, an Australian businessman residing in Japan who pursued acting in Toho films as a hobby. He is a little hammy here as the syndicate boss and would-be Blofeld (instead of a white cat, he pals around with a big ol' Great Dane dog) who in an additional gimmick also happens to be blind. Needless to say this proves no handicap whatsoever during his final face-off with Andrew where he whips out a handy soundwave-sensitive sniper rifle for a suspenseful, if slightly stilted, showdown.

Booted Babe, Busted Boss, billed in some territories under the alternate titles Ironfinger Strikes Again and (interestingly for James Bond fans) Golden Eyes, sports a plot concocted by Fukuda and co-writer Ei Ogawa even more mind-boggling and random than the original with the third act playing more or less like an episode of Wacky Races with lovely Mitsuko as Penelope Pitstop. She even dresses like Penelope. Things don't quite add up, particularly Ruby's ever-shifting motivations and the tangled double and triple-crosses between the villains. Nevertheless the sequel is livelier with spectacular Middle Eastern (possibly Iran) locations providing a backdrop worthy of the Bond films and some truly outrageous action set-pieces. Viewers will be unlikely to forget when Andrew and his pals are ambushed in a valley by a horde of burka-clad assassins pushing prams with concealed machine-guns! Fukuda's film has a playful sense of humour that, though bordering on the juvenile, lacks the darker sadistic undertones of Ian Fleming and packs a charmingly comic book-like tone.

Though no less suave nor deadly, Andy cuts a more comical figure than any Bond (except maybe Roger Moore, bless him) and the film never hesitates to place him in a slapstick scrape. Whether clinging to a window ledge atop a tall building or imprisoned in a plaster body cast by an irate henchman, Takarada remains as charismatic and likeable as ever. Here he continues quoting French and talking about his 'Mom' whom we now learn is an acronym for an organization of elite assassins. Like her predecessor, Maeda is very good as a more assertive and capable anti-heroine than were featured in most Bond films at this point. Interestingly the Andrew Hoshino spy thrillers have none of the misogyny of the Bond films. Ruby and Mitsuko are peppy and vivacious characters rather than duplicitous spider-women or disposable sex toys. Even a torture scene plays discreetly without the excessive sadism of a Seventies 'pinky violence' film. Both actresses are naturally adorned with some eye-popping mod mini-dresses upping the style factor while Tomomi Sawa's bikini-clad pop art pop performance is another visual treat. Look out for those crazy lyrics ("Wiggy wiggle, dippy doo-dah!")

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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