Friday, September 17, 2010

Wild Wild West--"The Night of the Deadly Blossom"

“The Night of the Deadly Blossom” is an interesting animal. It is one of those winks at the audience’s knowledge of history that takes a strange plot turn towards the absurd I order to make it fit in with the logic of the series. I am amused by it, although said absurd twist is terribly laughable.

An American navy ship is sunk off the coast of California, supposedly by a freak lightning strike, but no one believes that is plausible. The command officers of the Pacific Fleet are murdered I the middle of the investigation by assassins using traditional Hawaiian weapon. Jim and Artie are on the case, as Jim meets wit Adam Barclay, a British-Chinese diplomat, expert on pacific culture, and a guy plotting to murder the Hawaiian king as he arrives in the United States in order to build better relations between the two countries.

Barclay resents his Caucasian half of his heritage and doe not wat Hawaii to be corrupted by the outside world. By killing the Hawaiian king, he hopes to turn the island into a buffer to impede aval expansion by both the United States and Japan. Pearl Harbor is of course mentioned as the key strategic point for controlling the Pacific over the next century.

If you guessed there is a secret Japanese agent involved, you are correct. If you guessed she is a pretty girl, you have been watching this show too much. If you also guessed she and Jim form an alliance in the name of continued friendship and peaceful coexistence in the Pacific between the United States and Japan, you have been watching television in general way too much. It is all just to clever for words, no?

Barclay has created a rocket lunching base full of henchmen dressed in purple shower curtains from which he plans to detroy the Hawaiian kig’s ship. You should have figured out by now Barclay teted his missile on the nay ship, then decided no one would believe lightening caused its sinking, so e decided to kill the American navy’s top brass. Because that will attract any attention his plan.

Say, do you think Barclay’s lair was built by the same construction company that built Capt. Horatio Philo’s lair a couple episodes back? They are both hidden on the ocean and just outside San Francisco. You have to figure those are big, specialty jobs from a specific company. Since it only takes one man a single shot to destroy both, that must have had the Death Star contract, too. Probably out of business by now, with a track record like that.

“The Night of the Deadly Blossom” is not a classic, nor is it particularly logical even within the universe of the series, but it is fun in its own way. Jim’s escape from the swinging pendulum pictured above takes up nearly the entire third act, which tells me the thin plot had to desperately be padded. Still, it is absurdly enjoyable and the “predictions” about the future of Pearl Harbor were a ice touch.

In a true blink and you will miss it moment, keep an eye out for Soon-Tek Oh, the veteran character actor perhaps most famous for playing Col. Yit, the sadistic POW camp commandant in Missing Action II; The Beginning, as Barclay’s butler. He has no lines. In fact, all he does is serve tea and scurry off. But it is him. According to IMDb, it is the fifth role in his career. Miiko Taka, who plays the Japanese agent Hanuko Ishuda, will go on to play Kiri in the popular Richard Chamberlain miniseries Shogun

Coolest point of note: Barclay is played by veteran actor Nehemiah Persoff, who is not only Jewish instead of Chinese, but was the cab driver in the famous ‘I could have been a contender” scene between Marlon Brando and Rod Steiger in On the Waterfront.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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