Monday, February 09, 2015

The G.I. Executioner aka Dragon Lady aka Wit's End

You may be better off knowing no G.I. executioner appears in the Troma release titled THE G.I. EXECUTIONER, but I doubt it really matters. An American production proudly shot in Singapore (as the opening titles state) by the director of BLOODSUCKING FREAKS, Joel M. Reed’s weird action picture has lots of female nudity, including from its three main actresses, and an unlikable and unlikely hero played by the balding Tom Keena.

Dave Dearborn (Keena) is a retired war correspondent running a nightclub on a Singapore junk. The film goes to great ends to show Dearborn as a stud, always sleeping with or being propositioned by some nubile bit actress. This could be to counter one of the film’s offbeat story points — that he once pretended to be gay and seduced a man to get a story.

Speaking of story, G.I. EXECUTIONER’s seems crazy complicated, but it may just be that Reed tells it in a confusing manner. That old girlfriend, Mai Lee Foon (Victoria Racimo, who advanced to a solid Hollywood career playing Latinas and Native Americans), is now dating a local mobster, who appears to be involved with a defecting Red Chinese scientist that the local authorities would like Dearborn to find. Why him, I don’t know. Dearborn’s earlier gay affair turns out to be an important plot element, ensuring that the film, as bad as it is, is not like any other spy adventure you’ve seen.

In addition to Racimo and some anonymous one-line amateurs, Janet Wood (Russ Meyer’s UP!) as Dearborn’s clingy lover and Angelique Pettyjohn (best known as green-haired Amazon Shahna in STAR TREK’s “The Gamesters of Triskelion”) as an enthusiastic stripper perform nude. This is relevant because the most interesting thing that happens in G.I. EXECUTIONER is Pettyjohn shooting a bad guy while starkers.

THE G.I. EXECUTIONER is the title Troma bestowed upon Reed’s film sometime after the New York-based Lloyd Kaufman-Michael Herz studio picked it up. It was first released in 1971 as both WIT’S END (also the title of the decent garage rock song by The Jason Garfield that opens the picture) and KISS KISS BANG BANG. It also played in the United States throughout the 1970s as DRAGON LADY, and was seen under the Troma label in theaters as late as 1980 or 1981 as WILD DRAGON LADY starring “Bruce Dragon-Lee” and “Jacky ‘Black Belt’ Chang.” I don't know who would have been more pissed off about this film playing ten years later: someone buying a ticket to WILD DRAGON LADY and getting this film or Victoria Racimo, then a regular on TV's THE CHISHOLMS.

Under any title, it’s a thoroughly inept film, but at least unusually so and not dull.

Note: thank you to Chris Poggiali of Temple of Schlock for THE G.I. EXECUTIONER's complex release information.

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