DOCTEUR JUSTICE/DOCTOR JUSTICE

1975

D: Christian Jacques
S: Jean Ollivier, Raphael Marcello, Robert Jacques, Christian Jacques
P: Michel Kelber
M: Pierre Porte
C: John Phillip Law, Nathalie Delon, Gert Frobe, Paul Naschy, Hugo Blanco, Eduardo Fajardo, Jose Canalejas, Roger Paschy


A French/Spanish co-production
Spanish title: AMBICION FALLIDA
Alternate title: KARATE KILLERS
Running time: 111 min.

  

Review: It's almost pointless to review this item as a Paul Naschy film--at least in this English-language print. Naschy's role ultimately amounts to a brief cameo, and he neither wrote nor directed this adaptation of a popular European comic book. If Naschy has a larger part in an alternate version, the information would be of great value here.

Gert (GOLDFINGER) Frobe plays "Max," the master criminal (and master chef) behind the baffling theft of a huge amount of crude oil from an industrial transport ship. Having escaped the vessel scot-free, Max dabbles in a bit of political assassination to cover his tracks--however, his target whispers a few dying words to the up-till-then-uninvolved Dr. Justice (John Philip Law).

Dr. Justice just happens to be a benevolent genius, on a mission to preach his faith in science to the world (he believes, for example, that underwater cities are the solution to overpopulation). He also has martial arts skills which come in handy for thwarting the kidnapping attempts which begin almost immediately. Having become aware of Max's schemes, Dr. Justice wastes no time in starting his counterplot.

Fans of Euro spy thrillers will find much outlandish fun here, particularly in the first half hour. Especially unforgettable is the method the villains choose to stop Dr. Justice's car--nothing less impractical than a lifelike, walking robotic child is used for a sudden, shocking "accident!" Almost all of Naschy's footage appears during this time, as well. He's instantly recognizable as one of Max's henchmen, but is not listed at all in the credits (again, at least in the English-language version). Interestingly, the credits do identify a "Roger Paschy" as a karate champion who appears in an unspecified role. Considering that this film falls into Naschy's filmography between NIGHT OF THE HOWLING BEAST and INQUISITION (his directorial debut), Naschy's brief participation here raises some intriguing questions.

Law has a great time in the title role, whether spouting sincerely-intended philosophy or firing off one sexist Bondian remark after another at such female co-stars as Nathalie Delon. He handles the action scenes more than capably--but the surrounding film, all in all, isn't likely to make anyone forget DANGER: DIABOLIK. Nor does GOLDFINGER face any serious competition. While it's fun to watch Frobe gobble the scenery (in a dual role, yet), the charm and novelty of DR. JUSTICE wears off by the time it reaches a sadly lackluster climax.

The possibility of an alternate version deserving a separate review acknowledged, "Dr. Justice" merits a mild recommendation to enthusiasts of this genre. For Naschy fans, this is obviously for completists only.

-- Shane M. Dallmann