Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Blue Demon: La Mafia Amarilla (Mexico, 1972)

In honor of this Blue Demon obscurity being released on DVD (As part of a Pegassus Films bargain 3-fer disc called simply "Luchadores", which is sadly without English subs) I thought I'd post this capsule review I wrote for my site The Lucha Diaries a while back. If you'd like to read more (not very) informative and insightful reviews of Mexican wrestling movies such as this one, be sure to check out the site, cuz it's got buttloads of them.
Ah, the Mysterious Orient, land of Mr. Moto, Swanson's frozen egg rolls and Hong Kong Phooey. While we eagerly partake of such exotic delights, round-eyes such as myself can never understand their true meaning, because their rich secrets are locked away within the impenetrable vault that is the inscrutable Asiatic mind. Yu-Gi-Oh, Tae Bo, Puffy AmiYumi, mathematics - are these all just innocuous products of pop culture, or part of a sinister secret language spoken by a scheming race intent on spreading their insidious influence throughout every country on the globe, especially Mexico? And what about those weird statues of the kitties making the black power fist? World famous detective, criminologist and impromptu lecturer Blue Demon will find the answer to all of these questions and more when his hunt for a murderous Chinese crime lord takes him deep within the Asian demimonde, a dark landscape of Chinese Laundries, gloomy antiquities shops and smoke-filled opium dens. And it is only when he has fallen into their clutches that these nefarious denizens of the east reveal their secret weapon: A big, muscle-bound black man!
Okay, I cannot in good conscience recommend a movie as reprehensible as La Mafia Amarilla (aka The Yellow Mafia), but I will say that I howled with laughter from its beginning to its very end, all the while shedding an inward tear at the sad spectacle that it presents. It's a shame really, because, minus all of its instances of jaw-dropping racism, it's a fairly slick and fast-paced - not to mention violent (that yellow mafia really likes to kill people) - little B crime thriller. Of course, all of the Asian roles are taken by Latinos, and the worst offender by far is Jorge Arvizo as Chan Lo, a one man amalgam of all of the most odious Chinaman stereotypes that the history of cinema has to offer. Aside from those characters, though, the rest of La Mafia Amarilla's cast appears to have walked out of an Italian crime drama of the period, making the film a visual manual on how to rock a blow dry and big bushy 'stache. Blue Demon plays it straight-up as a 70s style private dick here, only doffing his smart suit and tie for his ring matches and spending lots of time staring at evidence through a microscope and holding forth to his two associates (the kinky booted Teresa Velazquez and the even more redundant than usual purveyor of comic relief Tin-Tan) on his refined crime solving techniques.
With all the utter absurdity on display, it's difficult to pick a favorite moment, but right now I'm leaning toward the one where Blue Demon hands his business card to someone and a close-up clearly reveals the strokes of the Magic Marker that was used to make it. All this movie is missing is a boner-necked, go-go dancing Chinaman puppet.

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