Saturday, April 16, 2016

Jaguar Lives! (1979)

A dunderheaded take on James Bond-style international espionage with a heavy element of martial arts, Jaguar Lives! is roughly the equivalent of a second-rate television pilot, thanks to adequate production values, a blandly handsome leading actor, several faded stars playing vapid cameo roles, and a nonstop barrage of noisy action. The story is as stupid as it is trite, so not one frame of the picture is likely to lodge in the viewer’s memory. Jaguar Lives! is not even fun to watch ironically, excerpt perhaps for the snarky thrill of noting how many of the film’s macho moments come across as accidental homoerotica. In fact, viewers who enjoy watching leading man Joe Lewis perform martial-arts rituals while his naked, sculpted torso gleams in the sun may be the only ones who can derive uncomplicated pleasure from Jaguar Lives! The movie begins with secret agent Jonathan Cross, code-named “Jaguar” (Lewis), conducting a mission with his buddy, Bret Barrett, code-named “Cougar” (Anthony De Longis). The mission ends in tragedy, sending Jaguar into seclusion. He licks his spiritual wounds by doing martial arts in the desert under the watchful eye of his sensei (Woody Strode), whom the filmmakers helpfully adorn with the character name “Sensei.” Then intelligence operative Anna Thompson (played by onetime Bond girl Barbara Bach) arrives with a new mission, and—oh, forget it. International locations are visited, stuff explodes, and villains get their asses kicked. Beyond Bach and Strode, others collecting paychecks for playing pointless roles include Capucine, John Huston, Christopher Lee, Donald Pleasance, and Dr. No himself, Joseph Wiseman. Lewis, who enjoyed a hugely successful career in competitive karate and kickboxing, is impressively athletic, and that may be the only reason to associate any form of the adjective “impressive” with Jaguar Lives!

Jaguar Lives!: LAME

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