Sunday, May 4, 2014

#1,357. The Stranger and the Gunfighter (1974)

Directed By: Antonio Margheriti

Starring: Lee Van Cleef, Lieh Lo, Patty Shepard

Tag line: "The fastest gun in the West joins with the most brutal hands in the East!"

Trivia: Filmed on location in Hong Kong and Spain

What do you get when you cross a spaghetti western starring Lee Van Cleef (For a Few Dollars More, The Big Gundown) with a martial arts movie featuring Lieh Lo (Five Fingers of Death, The One-Armed Swordsman)? You get a bad-ass motion picture, that’s what!

While robbing a safe, petty thief Dakota (Van Cleef) accidentally kills its owner, an elderly Chinese man named Wang (Al Tung), and is promptly arrested for murder. As this is happening, Ho Chiang (Lieh Lo), the dead man’s nephew, arrives from China, with express orders from his local Warlord to recover the treasure Wang allegedly stole from him. Realizing Dakota is the only one who can help him track down the loot, Ho Chiang rescues him from the gallows (Dakota was sentenced to hang for the so-called murder he committed), and the two set to work trying to piece together the clues Uncle Wang left behind, all of which are tattooed on the ass cheeks of four beautiful women (Patty Shepard, Demi Benussi, Erika Blanc, and Karen Yeh). Unfortunately, as our heroes will soon discover, they aren’t the only ones searching for Wang’s treasure.

Produced by Gustave Berne (Theater of Blood, Phantom of the Paradise) and the Shaw Brothers (The Five Deadly Venoms, The 36th Chamber of Shaolin), The Stranger and the Gunfighter (aka Blood Money) is a fun-filled genre mash-up: a gritty western with an anti-hero as the lead and a kung-fu thrill fest featuring fights aplenty. While its Lee Van Cleef’s Dakota who kicks the story off (the opening sequence is of him trying to break into the safe), it’s Lieh Lo’s Ho Chiang who gets the action underway when, shortly after he arrives in America, he picks a fight in a local bar (the trouble begins when Ho Chiang walks into the establishment with a dog. As it turns out, the dog was allowed in; it’s the Chinese they refuse to serve). But the real fun starts once Dakota and Ho Chiang join forces, leading to an exciting grand finale that’s sure to satisfy fans of both genres.

Produced the same year as the Shaw Brothers / Hammer Horror joint effort, The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, The Stranger and the Gunfighter had me wishing the Shaws had done this sort of thing more often.

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