Thursday, July 18, 2013

Dark Rendezvous (Hong Kong, 1969)

It's paradoxical, but it's gotten to the point where, if I haven't in a while muddled my way through an un-subtitled foreign film in a hapless display of half baked assumptions and clumsy guestimation, I feel like I'm letting you readers down. And so I give you Dark Rendezvous, a film about which this review will tell you as close to nothing as is possible while still warranting being called a review at all.

Dark Rendezvous is one of a handful of stylish thrillers from Shaw Brothers Studios that were long considered MIA until turning up a couple years ago on the Ziieagle Movie Box, a set so voluminous that it had to come on its own external hard drive. The film is less of a boilerplate genre entry than some of those other missing films -- like, for instance, 1967's near slavish Bond pastiche Kiss and Kill -- and so lends itself less easily to interpretation by a monolingual philistine such as myself. Still, I can clearly see that Dark Rendezvous features a suave private eye caught up in a web of intrigue (Ling Yun), a beautiful femme fatale with a knack for killing (Angela Yu Chien), and a mysterious nightspot called the BBB Club where patrons, staff, and entertainers alike all wear domino masks. That is, I can understand enough to know that I'd like to understand more.

The film was one of three Shaw titles shepherded by Japanese director Murayama Mitsuo between 1969 and 1970. Mitsuo's other work seems to consist largely of a string of war pictures produced by Daei during the same period. Still, despite an efficiency that put him at the helm of five pictures in two countries over the course of two years, the director clearly didn't see the need to skimp on style. In terms of visuals,  Mitsuo brings to Dark Rendezvous the best of both Japanese and Hong Kong pop cinema circa 1969: Starkly formalist compositions that make the most of the wide Shawscope frame and a sensual and effusive use of color that takes the studio's typically saturated palette to its limits.

While I did not understand a lot of what I was seeing while watching Dark Rendezvous, I did make a shit ton of screen caps of it. And so let those serve as a placeholder until I can find a translated copy of the film and give you a proper review. I hate to say it, but sometimes, in the battle between reviewer and un-subtitled films, the movie wins.


Anonymous said...

No subtitles, but lots of pretty. Works for me.

Todd said...

Hellz yeah.

Mr. Cavin said...

Man, that really is just beautiful.