The Five Golden Dragons (1967)

a.k.a I Cinque Draghi D'Oro
Klaus Kinski stars in this well made and suspenseful Edgar Wallace inspired thriller from Harry Alan Towers. Passworld Italian R2 DVD.

The Film

In 1966, Harry Alan Towers travelled out to the Shaw Brother's studio in Hong Kong to film his third Fu Manchu picture, Vengeance of Fu Manchu (1967), and the bizarre Million Eyes of Sumuru (1967). Taking the leads from these two films, Klaus Kinski and Christopher Lee, he filmed this quick but effective thriller, inspired by the stories of British thriller writer Edgar Wallace, who at the time was very popular and had inspired an entire genre of German cinema - the Krimi.

A man arrives in Hong Kong and is soon found dead, his final act was to give a letter to a taxi driver. It ends up on the desk of Police Commissioner Sanders (Rupert Davies) who eventually sends it on to the recipient, a playboy named Bob Mitchell (Robert Cummings) - the letter simply reads Five Golden Dragons. When Mitchell meets a couple of attractive sisters, he finds that one of them is very scared of something, he is soon drawn into the secret of the Dragons, and finds himself running for his life...

The story, penned by Towers himself, is nothing too original - a man gets drawn into a web of conspiracies, and as soon as he discovers that a pretty girl is involved, he just has to save her. Fortunately the film is well plotted with some good characterisation and plenty of mystery - the character of Mitchell could prove annoying to some, liking to wisecrack at everything, although it is clear that he does it because he is nervous and it never becomes too stale. Although largely dialogue based, there are a few action and chase scenes, and although a few of these come off as gratuitous, they do keep the film moving and although slowly paced, it is never dull - only one scene stands out as unnecessary, when Mitchell takes on a group of henchmen, with some "comedy" sound effects - it is very out of place on this otherwise very realistic and tense film. The climax is strong and effective and will keep you guessing up until the final moments (and some interesting questions remain afterwards as well....)

Director Jeremy Summers does a fine job here, capturing a side of Hong Kong that you rarely see in European/American made films; the exterior shots especially have an authentic feel to them, as though they were simply shot on a street without any planning or extras. Music is used well throughout, especially in the nightclub acts.

As per Harry Alan Towers' usual form, the film is packed with top name stars, and a solid selection of character actors. Bob Cummings (Dial M for Murder (1954)) is in good form as Mitchell (looking amazing for 60), and an experienced comedian, he is able to bring some very good timing to his role. British character actor Rupert Davies (Dracula has Risen from the Grave (1968)) plays the British police inspector while the legendary Klaus Kinski gets a small but key role as a chief henchman, and looks suitably theatening throughout. A wonderful pair of Marias - Maria Perschy and Maria Rohm play the theatened sisters and look very alluring, while the equally attractive Margaret Lee looks a long way from her dark haired Olga in Venus in Furs (1969). The Dragons themselves, Dan Duryea (Winchester '73 (1950)), George Raft (Some Like It Hot (1959)), Christopher Lee (The Mummy (1959)) and Brian Donlevy (The Quatermass Xperiment (1955)) get little more than cameos, but play along well.

A largely forgotten film despite its big name cast, Five Golden Dragons is an effective little thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat first time around, and has enough intesting direction and storyline to keep repeat viewings interesting. Viewers just wanting to see Kinski, Donlevy etc. will probably be disappointed, but the film should prove of general interest to cult movie fans and comes recommended.

In Brief

Anyone famous in it? Klaus Kinski - The infamous German actor who came to fame with For a Few Dollars More (1965)
Christopher Lee - The iconic Hammer villian, best remembered for his partnerships with Peter Cushing.
Directed by anyone interesting? Jeremy Summers - largely a television director, he also shot Vengeance of Fu Manchu (1967) with Christopher Lee.
Who else was involved?Harry Alan Towers - the British exploitation producer behind the sleazy 99 Women (1969).
Any gore? Some death scenes, quite tame.
Any sex? None.
Who is it for?
Recommended to fans of the Edgar Wallace thrillers, and generally to cult movie fans.


Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colour.
The print quality is strong, with good colours, minimal print damage, and only light grain.
Audio English original mono sound. Sounds strong throughout and is well made. Christopher Lee's voice is notably retained.
Italian mono and 5.1 surround.
Subtitles Italian (optional)
Extras None.
AvailabilityDVD Title: I Cinque Draghi D'Oro
Region Region 2 (UK, Europe) - PAL
Other regions? Not available elsewhere.
Cuts? The film is believed to be uncut - the print used here is the full, original 105 minute version of the film - it was trimmed for distribution in England and the US (where it ran just 70 minutes). The print and credits are English language.



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All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 26th February 2007.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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