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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>
Director Robert Clouse's career has been overshadowed by 1973's "Enter the Dragon" which was in part, an attempt to incorporate elements of Chinese and Hong Kong cinema into the American formula. Some two decades before John Woo et.al made the leap to Hollywood, producer Raymond Chow (head of Golden Harvest) teamed with Clouse many times in the 1970s, repeatedly spiking cross-cultural martial arts and detective actioners. "Golden Needles" was another such attempt to fuse American and Hong Kong action film conventions: this film being a comedic, actionful, fantasy version of the classic "Maltese Falcon". Joe Don Baker starred as an American in Hong Kong, who for a favour and a price, attempts to track down a priceless idol. This idol is one of the strangest McGuffins in the movies: it is pierced by needles in a specific pattern, and if the acupuncture is performed on a man, in the same pattern as marked on the idol, renewed sexual vigour results. Thus, it is sought after by all manner of older men (including Burgess Meredith in one of his funniest roles). Whilst meant as entertainment, the film succeeds also as one of the strangest treatments of the theme of drug addiction so prevalent in 70s American film, and even Clouse's other work (especially "The Amsterdam Kill"). Boistered by an excellent, comical, music score by Lalo Schifrin, featuring piercing sounds to mimic the acupuncture motif, the film is an immensely enjoyable generic hybrid, free from pretension, and a shining example of B-movie pleasures. Self-consciously, and never heavy-handedly, Clouse uses the genre conventions to frame a study of the US cultural appropriation of foreign practices (the Asian connection being the supplier of heroin ironically enough). Progressively weirder and with a protagonist whose easy-going sense of adventure becomes ever more sobering as he proceeds, this film is a true oddity, and all the better for it. Clouse's handling serves as a neat reminder of the time when he was still an innovator in B-movies, instead of the mere imitator he had become by the beginning of the 1980s.
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