aka CALL HIM MR. SHATTER
(UK/Hong Kong - 1974; US release 1975)
Directed by Michael Carreras. Written by Don Houghton. Cast: Stuart Whitman, Peter Cushing, Ti Lung, Anton Diffring, Lily Li, Yemi Ajibade, Huang Pei Chi, Lo Wei, Chiang Han, Liu Ka Yong, Liu Ya Ying, James Ma, Kao Hsiung. (R, 90 mins)
Following the success of 1973's ENTER THE DRAGON and the subsequent explosion of kung-fu movies coming out of Hong Kong, Hammer, England's legendary house of horror, tried to get a piece of the action with a pair of co-productions with Hong Kong's Shaw Brothers. Both turned out to be critical and commercial failures, starting with 1974's horror/martial-arts hybrid THE LEGEND OF THE 7 GOLDEN VAMPIRES, which bombed in the UK and wasn't even released in the US until 1979, drastically and disastrously re-edited as THE 7 BROTHERS MEET DRACULA. Since becoming widely available in its original, uncut form in the early days of DVD, the very entertaining LEGEND has found a strong cult following and is today held in higher regard by fans. The other was the international actioner SHATTER, which remains the ill-conceived dud that it was decades ago. Just out on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory (because physical media is dead), SHATTER was a troubled production from the start, with Hammer hiring the unlikely Monte Hellman to direct. A Roger Corman protege, Hellman enjoyed some critical success with a pair of low-key mid '60s westerns with Jack Nicholson and Millie Perkins (RIDE IN THE WHIRLWIND, which Nicholson also wrote, and THE SHOOTING), and found a place in the post-EASY RIDER New Hollywood movement with 1971's existential road movie TWO-LANE BLACKTOP.
THE MARK (he lost to Maximilian Schell in JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG). He would end up doing guest spots on TV and appearing in some truly dreadful movies by the 1980s, but here, in 1974, he's definitely finding a niche in drive-in exploitation as Shatter, a freelance international assassin hired to kill Ansabi M'Goya (Yemi Ajibade), a brutal East African dictator. When he goes to Hong Kong to collect his payment from bank executive Hans Leber (Anton Diffring), the representative of his unnamed client, he's told that he won't be paid and if he makes any trouble, he'll be arrested for M'Goya's murder. This understandably sets Shatter off, especially since he's got people taking shots at him, plus Rattwood (Peter Cushing, attempting what sounds at times like a Southern American accent), a cynical agent from the government's "security division" having him roughed up and telling him to get out of town. Shatter finds a love interest in masseuse Mai-Mee (Lily Li) and eventually teams up with her martial-arts expert brother Tai Pah (Ti Lung) to take on the assassins coming after him and help him get his money from Leber, who represents not the CIA or British intelligence, as Shatter assumed, but rather a cabal of international syndicate heads who wanted M'Goya rubbed out because he stood in the way of their lucrative global opium pipeline.
|Stuart Whitman (1928-2020)
|Michael Carreras, Peter Cushing, Sir Run Run Shaw,
and Stuart Whitman on the set of SHATTER