Koroshi (1967)

Genres - Action, Spy Film  |   Sub-Genres - Glamorized Spy Film  |   Run Time - 93 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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The final two Secret Agent/Danger Man episodes have a strange history. They were intended to be part of a full-color fourth season of Danger Man (with creator Ralph Smart no longer the executive producer) to have aired in 1966-1967, and were tacked onto the shooting of the black-and-white third season. Patrick McGoohan, however, had already wearied of the role and felt the series had reached a dead-end, and gave it up after doing these two shows. (The Prisoner was already germinating as an idea.) The two resulting color episodes constituted a "season" by themselves and were hardly ever shown. With a lot of money tied up in them, along with some seriously high production values, the two shows were re-cut by ITC for feature-film release in 1967. The results are fairly impressive as an action-adventure creation, with some very nicely handled scenes. John Drake's first encounter with Sanders takes place during a Kabuki theater interpretation of Hamlet (with accompanying mass stage deaths), and takes him to a room in which an assassin may be hidden among a bunch of mannequins in Kabuki costume. There are some good double- and triple-crosses involving bombs and deadly traps, a good chase between an airplane and a jeep, and some superb underwater scenes, courtesy of photographer Egil Woxholt. Michael Truman and Peter Yates shared the directorial chores for the material from the episode "Koroshi," whereas Yates was the sole director credited for the "Shindo Shiba" sequences.

These were Yates' very last television-related credits before he made the jump to international action-adventure features with Robbery (1967) and Bullitt (1968), and are worth watching on that basis alone. The footage is also exciting, especially that lifted from the second program, which was unusually violent for television-based material of its time. McGoohan's performance is a bit less intense than was the norm for the series. It's clear that he's tired of the role, and his weariness shows, though we also glimpse some of the defiant world weariness that he would bring to the role of episode six of The Prisoner. Also on hand are many bit and supporting players that would be seen later in The Prisoner, one noted big-screen talent of an earlier generation (George Coulouris), Yoko Tani (in a dual role), and the ubiquitous Burt Kwouk playing a rather awkwardly over-enthusiastic Japanese driver in part of a wryly funny opening sequence involving Drake's inept contact man Potter. A lot of the plot looks and plays like early James Bond material (which may have fueled McGoohan's dislike of it), and if it does look and play that way, note that future Bond director John Glen was the editor on both episodes.