The Black Falcon

In 1966 Paul Chang Chung had starred in the Shaw film “The Golden Buddha” that was clearly influenced by the James Bond mania that was sweeping the world and a year later he pops up in this movie and announces that he is Bond’s cousin! Of the leading men that I have come across so far in Shaw’s stable of actors, I have to admit that Chung is perhaps the best candidate for a Bond like role – good looking in a masculine way, urbane, suave, at ease with the female sex and with some physical grace. Of course if people have seen “The Golden Buddha” what they may recall is how poor the fighting was choreographed – but from the evidence of this film it seems Chung may have been embarrassed enough by those scenes to go to work on improving his skills and his karate displays in this film are not bad for a film from that period.
He works for a private detective agency – their best man – and has all the attributes you would look for in the kind of jobs he gets assigned – a karate expert, a master of the roulette wheel (instead of Baccarat), able to sniff poison in a glass of wine and an agile seducer of women. His agency is hired to track down and bring to justice the Black Falcon gang – a mysterious group of criminals who appear to be headed by a Mr. Tan Gongying whose whereabouts are unknown. Chung is told to cozy up to his daughter in hopes that she will lead him to her father – not exactly a painful duty as she is played by the glorious Jenny Hu in a nice assortment of stylish fashions and dazzling smiles. He tries an old fashioned tack – walk into a bar where she is sitting and show just how tough he is by getting into a bar room brawl and breaking a lot of heads open. She is impressed but he plays hard to get.
Later though when he picks winning numbers for her at the casino and she has a pile of chips big enough to feed a horse in front of her, she is as good as his – but little does he know that he has been watched by the Black Falcon gang from the beginning and their minions have been sending back live shots through miniature cameras to the TV set back at headquarters. If only they had copy written that technology and produced it they would be as big as Microsoft today, but no instead they preferred being a secret criminal organization because that is so much cooler and they get to kill their subordinates if they screw up – try that at Microsoft (which of course some have accused of being a large criminal organization that “kills” the competition). Silly people. Why do all criminal masterminds miss the obvious? The way to rule the world is through capitalism and monopolies.
So of course they make various ineffective attempts to kill Chung with a gang made up of Wang Hsia (father of current actor David Wong), Tien Feng, Ku Feng, Wu Ma, Helen Ma and other easily dispensable bad guys. Whenever one of them gets knocked off by Chung, the second in command, the kittenish and delectable Margaret Tu Chuan takes out her large black ledger book and crosses their names out – you don’t become number two by being disorganized! And the fact that she oozes out of her clothes (off-screen) in front of her direct reports doesn’t hurt her position of power either. Sadly, this intriguing actress – known by her nickname as the “Wild Girl’, was to commit suicide within two years of this film with her female lover. Though her appearance time in the film is fairly small, she impresses with her deadly disguised as a cigarette holder blow gun and her feline sexuality.
Overall the film feels like a bit of a weak cousin to the films it tries to imitate – everything is there from car chases to gun battles to beautiful girls in skimpy towels but it doesn’t really have any zing to it. The pace of the film is a little slow and it provides no electrifying moments, but it still remains a generally enjoyable action film with a nice cast of lead and character actors. One element that is missing that made “The Golden Buddha” so much fun is a campy mentality with completely over the top villains. Sure these bad guys have their secret lair and a huge Nazi like banner of a black falcon in the background and even a little throne for Margaret to sit and purr on – but their only secret weapon is the video transmitter, they have no futuristic uniforms and they aren’t in the least bit competent. They try concocting elaborate plans to kill Chung when a simple bullet to the head would easily be sufficient but when they do finally try shooting him they miss badly, which may explain the elaborate plans! By the end they are holed up in a two bedroom apartment – a feeble end to the Black Falcon gang.

The film was directed by yet another import from Japan - Takumi Furukawa (Chinese name: Tai Kao-mei) who had been fairly successful back home working for the Nikkatsu studio - his best known film was "Season of the Sun" (available without English subs on DVD) - before directing he had been an assistant director under two greats - Kurosawa and Gosho. He only made two films for the Shaw Brothers before returning - this one and "Kiss and Kill".

My rating for this film: 6.0