There’s not much reason to mourn Kilink only killing bad guys when there are just so many bad guys on hand to kill. Strip and Kill is full of action, and I really like the move away from comic book superheroism and toward the world of espionage adventure.
Unfortunately, we only get the gist of things here, as the latter half has been, as far as anyone can tell, forever lost. Onar films did their best to fill in the gaps by summarizing the rest of the action via a series of stills and narration that take us through to the final shot of the film.
The episodic structure of the film keeps it from ever getting dull, and there’s usually not more than a minute or so before a skeleton is ripping off a woman’s top or a superhero is punching a villain’s car.
He puts on a skeleton costume, throws daggers at people, steals from the Queen of England, and makes love to gorgeous Italian women. Truly, Kriminal leads THE LIFE.
One gets the feeling, however, that if a potential creator of outsider art suddenly found himself in possession of a movie camera, some plastic Dracula fangs, and half a dozen cheap novelty wolfman masks, the resultant film would look something like Shaitani Dracula.
The movie’s tale of an innocent trapped in a den of scoundrels is told with enough style and effectiveness to show that, despite its poverty row roots, a considerable amount of care went into its making. To my mind, it would be nice to see that care rewarded with a little retroactive TLC.
The shame here — or at least one of the many shames — is that, with films like Nagin and the original Jaani Dushman, Raj Kumar Kohli demonstrated a genuinely quirky sensibility, while at the same time proving that he could draw in a popular audience. Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Kahani, on the other hand, demonstrates the culmination of a gradual grinding down of that sensibility.
The eventual reveal isn’t entirely a surprise, but then, it rarely is these days, given how many movies have been made in this style. And besides, the fun of the krimi is rarely in being fooled by the unmasking of the killer. It’s in the ride.
Even though it never really becomes a swashbuckling adventure (although Peter Cushing does get to swing from a chandelier) or a horror film, Hinds exploits the trappings of both genres to create a thrilling hybrid driven by strong characters and solid British acting.
And just where is Sonny Chiba in all this, you may ask? Well, he does have his heroic moments, but the top-billed star seems mostly content to blend into the background and let all of the insanity just happen around him. Which is a very sensible attitude to take.