Friday, July 29, 2011

Week 18: Santo en Operación 67 (a.k.a. Santo in Operation 67, 1966)

Santo, now in glorious techniccolor!

      We've reached Santo's 18th film, and his first color film at that. In honor of being allowed to reach such a career milestone, Santo had his filmmaking buddies cook up something good for all the loyal fans who got him this far. The result is Operacion 67, a dizzying riff on the 60s James Bond movies. The movie starts out with Santo framed against a blood red background, strutting towards you, the viewer, like he's cock of the walk. As the credits begin to roll, the opening sequence switches from this cocksure Santo to a half naked japanese girl dancing, and you already know this movie is going to be awesome.

Santo underwater!

      Like most Bond films the villains' goal and machinations are convoluted and do not entirely make sense. An unnamed cabal of evildoers has decided that their first step in world domination is to decimate the economy of South America. It's a goal that I'd surmise isn't entirely unachievable through simple means, yet these guys go through an overly complicated heist of printing plates for what I guess are 100 note pesos. After this robbery montage takes place, we find out that this secret society's head operator in South America has replaced the stolen plates with counterfeits, and has printed "genuine" bills using the stolen plates, which her henchman go out and spend like crazy. So the bad guys will be spending real money that's actually fake, while the governments of South America will be circulating fake money that they think is real? Confused? Yeah, me too.

Spread that fake money around fellas!

    Interpol decides to bring Santo and his new partner Jorge Rubios in to investigate all these funny monies floating around. It's a funny dynamic between these two, as Jorge is the more obvious 007 rip off. Jorge's playboy ways have apparently rubbed off on Santo. Gone is the puritanical crusader vibe. Santo is a player. He has a swanky bachelor's pad, where he and Jorge can entertain ladies, and even wears a smoking jacket. You'd almost expect him to sport a John Holmes mustache under that mask of his.

Santo on the Beach.

       You might think I'd find Jorge's presence grating, given my aggravation with previous attempts to saddle Santo with a sidekick, but Jorge manages to hold his own. He's still sort of a beta male to Santo's Alpha dog, but he does manage to cut an imposing figure that rivals Santo's at times. He even gets to lead a couple of the crazier set pieces in this feature, at one point laughingly exploding a biplane with a rocket launcher. The whole thing is so obviously fake that you can't help but love the movie for showing much of the action via cutaway reaction shots of Jorge.

A still from the mexican remake of "Falling Down".

      While its a James Bond riff, there being two leads also makes it an early prototype for the action buddy comedy subgenre. Thankfully, Santo and Jorge are played like their first movie already happened. Ya know, the one where they're forced to team up and slowly develop begrudging respect for each other. There's none of that nonsense here. As I think about buddy comedies, I can't help but think that any buddy comedy out there could more than likely be improved by the addition of a masked wrestler. In fact, replace one of the leads with a masked luchador! Imagine Lethal Weapon, or Rush hour, but instead of batshit Mel Gibson, or grating Chris Tucker, you'd have Santo. That's a movie I'd throw down ten bucks to see at the local multiplex! 

Santo and his smoking jacket.

      Operacion' 67 is the high water mark for these movies so far. It picks and chooses some of the best elements from previous entries, while dropping a lot of the stuff that made Santo seem like a stiff. For a story about Santo and his sidekick trying to take down a counterfeiting operation, it has a great deal of craziness afoot. Cars explode! Boats explode! Biplanes explode! Wrist watches electrocute people! There's knife fights, underwater knife fights, and cane sword fights! Villains try to drop the house lights on Santo during matches! Oh, and did I mention there were boobs? Yup, BOOBS! It's not just a good Santo movie, its a goddamned masterpiece! 


Five silver masks out of a possible Five

Fun Fact: Santo's partner Jorge is played by Jorge Rivero, who in the previous film, played the Santo "clone" that fights Santo in the climax.

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