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Cirio H. Santiago
Various factions are fighting each other to gain possession of a very special statue. The statue itself is not worth much, the needles inside it are the true prize. These "golden needles" hold extraordinary and unique properties, if inserted in the right positions in a man he will gain super sexual prowess, if placed incorrectly he dies. Written by
Patrick Knightly <email@example.com>
''Golden Needles'' was one of American International Pictures 20 year anniversary releases. A mixture of the then-popular Martial Arts genre with a ''Maltese Falcon'' like plot, it's a fast-moving, popcorn movie, the kind they used to make in the 40's. Starring Joe Don Baker (''Walking Tall'') and Elizabeth Ashley(''Rancho Deluxe''), the film spins an actionful tale, set in the seamy section of Hong Kong.Baker is a soldier of fortune-turned Antique Dealer, (or, maybe the other way around) who is hired by a mystery woman (Ashley) to steal a priceless ancient statue with the power to bestow long life (and sexual vigor) or instant death to he(or she) who owns it. Ashley herself has been cheated out of the statue by a powerful Chinese gang leader Roy Chiao) and she's after it for HER employer (a wizened Burgess Meredith, having a ball with his eccentric character). Karate star Jim Kelly (''Enter The Dragon'') appears briefly as Baker's partner in the Antique business. The legendary Ann Sothern is also aboard,and she's fine as another of Baker's pals, the tough but good-hearted proprietor of a seedy bar. Beautiful Frances Fong is around as well, as an agent for the Hong Kong government and also in pursuit of the statue.Double-crosses, fights, chases and mayhem ensue, but though the plot has more than it's share of threads, it is never confusing, thanks to ''Dragon's'' director, Robert Clouse, who treats it like the old-fashioned ''B'' movie it really is. Though produced on a low budget, as was the case with most American International movies,it looks like every penny spent is on the screen. The location photography is excellent, as is the classy art direction, and both lend plenty of atmosphere to the story.
The sets are also impressive,one in particular at the start of the film, is very reminiscent of the witch's lair in ''Suspiria'',but it pre-dates that film by 2 years. High praise goes to Lalo Schifrin's pulsating score as well. Though Meredith and Sothern were obviously added for their name value and have little to do,they, along with the rest of the cast seem to be enjoying themselves immensely,and if the viewer can suspend disbelief a bit and just go along with the story, they will, too. Previously available only in Canada, on a pan-and scan videotape, ''Golden Needles'' was released on DVD as part of the ''MGM DVD ON DEMAND'' series. It's presented in it's original Panavision format, with rich color and strong (if a bit grainy) picture quality. The sound is always intelligible,though slightly distorted here and there. But, all in all, it's a welcome release of a film that's been sadly neglected over the years. And one that may now get the attention it deserves.
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