Saturday, 9 October 2010



There really doesn't appear to be much rhyme or reason as to which movies get preserved for posterity and which are allowed to fade and die. Of all the movies that were in the release patterns at around the time this second-tier piece of B-movie double-bill fodder came out in 1979, why has this one been deemed worthy of rediscovery? It isn't very good - think something along the lines of pre-Cannon Chuck Norris films - and probably its only saving grace is its undeniably impressive roster of guest stars.

Certainly as far as plot is concerned Jaguar Lives (with or without the exclamation mark) is unimpressive - a retired agent with martial arts skills is called back into service when world leaders are being picked off, apparently at the behest of a mysterious drugs cartel. Might it have anything to do with Jaguar's former agency buddy who went rogue and was supposedly killed in the opening sequence although they never found the body? Duh! Anyway, Jaguar jets off round the world, following the trail from guest star to guest star, each of whom show up in isolated little 10-minute sequences but never actually meet up.

So you get John Huston as an embittered shipping tycoon, you get Capucine as the manager of a car factory, you get Woody Strode as Jaguar's martial arts guru. You also get not one but four ex-Bond stars: Joseph Wiseman (blind Arab), Barbara Bach (CIA agent), Christopher Lee (suave drugs baron) and Donald Pleasence (comedy generalissimo), who all do their stuff, take the cheque and disappear. The nominal star is Joe Lewis, who isn't really an actor but a proper martial artist and kickboxer.

It's efficient enough but overall fairly unremarkable and pretty unambitious, content to let the big names do their thing, then have a fight scene, then wheel on the next big name, and so. Christopher Lee and Donald Pleasence are always worth watching in practically anything, but that really isn't enough, and of all the late 70s movies that weren't major blockbusters, it's slightly odd that this one has survived.


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