This Bobby Suarez-produced action movie gets off to a rollicking start with our hero Chris Bellinger (Chris Mitchum) bursting in on a drugs ring and beating the lard out of everyone until one of them tells him where tonight's big dope handover is going to take place. He zips there on a motorcycle while the titles roll (accompanied by Ruben Sabinano's bouncy, brassy spy-jazz score) and tricks both sides of the dope exchange into shooting each other dead. When they're all lying lifeless in pools of their own blood, he sets fire to their cars. Take that, mafia.
Meanwhile, back at gangster HQ, Don Claudio (Larry Elkin) has to choose a replacement for their man in Hong Kong, and the only candidates are the fiercely competitive Angellini (Michael Kaye) and "the mafia boss of Hawaii", Tony Dee (Tony Ferrer, best known for his recurring role as Agent X44, the Pinoy James Bond), who squabble like teenage siblings. For no discernible reason Angellini gets the job, and he sends his man Pietro (Rey Sagum) to Hong Kong to find out who was responsible for the massacre. While chillaxing at the hotel pool, Chris meets tourist Nancy Wong (Ellie Chow), whose father has been forced into helping Angellini. They go for a romantic walk, and then, as Nancy drives away, a couple of young hoodlums steal her fancy-schmancy car and drive off. Chris and Nancy follow in hot pursuit, and end up at the kung fu school of Dick Chen (Dick Chan), a martial arts instructor who agrees to help them out with their mafia problem. When Pietro arrives in Hong Kong, Dick intercepts him before he can get to Nancy's father, and kills the hell out of him.
Angellini is blamed for the eff-up and Don Claudio tells him he'll let him live if he fights Tony Dee bare-handed. "But that's worse than murder," exclaims Angellini rather shrilly, so Tony lets him use his bodyguards to fight. Ha. As if. Tony clobbers the bodyguards and leaves Angellini in the hospital. A mysterious man called Dai Si Cheung (Wong Sai Lap) visits Angellini and after enjoying some racist banter offers to help him get rid of Don Claudio and take over the operation. Chris and Dick Chen pose as heads of Cosa Nostra Aisa and get Cheung to arrange a meeting with Tony. When Tony arrives in Hong Kong, Cheung's men try to ambush him, but he fights them off easily with the help of his bodyguard Liu (Larry Chiu). As it happens, Tony and Chris are old school friends, and to celebrate their reunion they have a massive fight wearing full gladiatorial gear - in Tony's office. This goes on for ages, rather like the "put on the glasses!" scene in 'They Live', and is interrupted only when Dick Chen comes along to tell them that Angellini has killed Don Claudio and taken over the racket.
Chen, Chris and Cheung meet down at the docks for a big drugs transaction which predictably but gratifyingly turns into an ambush which then rapidly turns into a counter-ambush, after which Cheung is abruptly kidnapped at gunpoint. Angellini comes to Hong Kong, thinking he's going to make a deal with Cheung, but Dick and Chris arrange an ambush for him. Angellini gets wind of the set-up, though, and fixes up his own surprise for the good guys at the ship's graveyard: "It'll be more than a ship's graveyard when I'm through with them", he lamely boasts.
'Cosa Nostra Asia' is a thoroughly enjoyable action romp from beginning to end, with only a few mildly dull scenes to slow things down. The unnecessarily complicated plot gets a little tangled up in itself, and there are several points at which it's hopelessly unclear what the hell is going on, and just when you think you've figured out the allegiances of all the major players you subsequently realise they were all just messing with your head all along. This loopy convolution finds its illogical conclusion in the staggering final seconds of the movie, which would be annoying and stupid if it weren't so jaw-droppingly brilliant. Chris Mitchum delivers exactly the kind of laid-back performance you would expect and hope for, and throws himself into the film's numerous action scenes with tremendous energy. Tony Ferrer is impressive too, and much less wheezy and sluggish than he would be five years later in 'Sabotage II'. Dick Chen doesn't really stand out for most of the film, but shines during the last scene on the boat, when he kicks, punches, grapples and throws his way through dozens of bad guys with tremendous vigour and style.
Director John Liao (whoever that is) keeps the pace going throughout the film's economic 87 minutes, although he is occasionally guilty of that weakness Bobby Suarez films tend to suffer from: arbitrarily tossing in scenes where the action stops for a few minutes in a club or bar, ostensibly to bring the principals together to do a little scheming but really to add a few minutes' padding while the audience watches some crappy nightclub act. These longueurs aside, everything cracks along briskly, with one fun chase sequence and excellent fight scene (courtesy of action director Ho Wai-Hung) after another. Despite the diabolically serpentine plot, it's actually pretty normal for a BASfilms production, so if you're looking for a fairly conventional introduction into the turbulent, heteromorphic imagination of Bobby A. Suarez, this is probably the best place to start.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?