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Several politicians and heads of church are assassinated by
bronze-skinned man with thick glasses... who turn white when shot. Plus
they all have blood rhesus 0. Obviously, they are brainwashed persons, and
there has to be a brain behind the operation.
Interpol investigates, and soon they figure to get a lead to those
behind the killings, they need bait ... and who better to pose as bait
than rundown ex-Interpol agent Al Pereira (Eddie Constantine), notorious
womanizer and alcoholic, whose blood is rhesus 0 - but of course, Interpol
fails to tell Pereira that he is merely bait, he is told to do a
full-fledged investigation. Interestingly enough, Oriental villain Lee Wee
(Vicente Roca) - "working for Vietnam ... both sides" - also
wants to hire Pereira to investigate.
So Pereira travels to Alicante (where the headquarters of the villains
are supposed to be), where he soon enough hooks up with Cynthia Lewis
(Sophie Hardy), who is also involved in the case somehow, and soon enough,
a drop of his blood goes to Lady Cecilia (Francoise Brion) and Lord Percy
(Fernando Rey), who, believe it or not, are the brains of the operation
who rents out robots (actually brainwashed people) to commit
assassinations worldwide. That night, Cecilia's and Percy's robots even
try to kidnap Pereira, but they run across Lee Wee's men ... and in the
end a bunch of corpses are left in Pereira's hotel room while he was
nowhere near ... and Interpol fumes that he hasn't been kidnapped yet.
Soon, Lady Cecilia pays Pereira a visit and wants to kidnap him using
her charms, but he is too blever for that and instead makes her indirectly
confirm that the robots glasses are their control mechanism. When Pereira
later pursues Lady Cecilia, he is stopped by Cynthia, who claims she has
now found out that he works for Lee Wee and wants to choot him ... but he
gets away, and eventually runs into the arms of the robots ... but since
he packs quite a bunch, he knocks one of them out, takes his glasses and
lets them direct him back to the robots home - Lady Cecilia's and
Lord Percy's place. Unfortunately, he was already expected by Lady
Cecilia, who soon enough throws him into a prison cell with Cynthia ...
who now turns out to be an Interpol agent, just like Pereira. Lady Cecilia
and Lord Percy want Pereira killed by their robots, but once again,
Pereira uses his fists to get out of a tight spot, then he discovers the
computer that controls the robots ... and directs them against their
All's well that ends well ?
Not quite, as Pereira actually sent away an SOS to Lee Wee, who now
shows up with his thugs and wants to torture the secret of the robots out
of Pereira. Pereira now wants to use his James Bond-like
gadgets (among them "a pen that is really a flute") to get out
of this tight spot, but he has to realize none of them works ... and Lee
Wee humiliates him by showing him he was used by Interpol merely as bait.
Then though he wants to show that his "umbrella that is actually a
bomb" is actually an umbrella ... and boom !!!
And since Pereira and Cynthia are the only two who survive, now all's
well that ends well !!!
More than anything else, Cartes sur Table is a comicbook come to
life: The story is delightully absurd, the imagery is flashy, the
characters are drawn in broad strokes without being embarassing, and the
plot relies heavily on pulp fiction mainstays: there's the hard-drinking,
hard-hitting hero, the beautiful girl detective, the eccentric evil
couple, the Oriental villain, brainwashed people, ... And since this is a
jess Franco-film, none of this is taken too seriously ... actually the
entire film is done incredibly tongue in cheek. And of course, Eddie
Constantine - playing the role like another variation on his Lemmy
Caution character - is perfect for the role of rundown
Still, Cartes sur Table is not among Jess Franco's best films
... simply because action was never quite his thing (the genres where
Franco did best were always horror and erotica). So on one hand, you can
see the film as a loving tongue-in-cheek hommage to the genre, but on the
other hand it is merely an average genre film. However, as long as you can
make yourself watchit as hommage, you will enjoy it.