What's Up, Tiger Lily? CoverIs seeing always believing? For example, can you take at face value whatever you see on the television, the movies, or even in real life? Hmmm? Maybe not. Unless you have cataracts of course. Still, you get the basic idea about what I am trying to say, right? If not, watch this movie Directed by Woody Allen / Senkichi Taniguchi; and Staring: Woody Allen, Louise Lasser, and The Lovin' Spoonful. It was made in 1966, and lasts for 80 minutes.

What's Up, Tiger Lily?

Comedic clown, Woody Allen, has come up with a very new and innovative idea. What if he took a Japanese James-Bond-like movie, removed the dialogue from it, and then replace whatever the actors were saying with his own words. Intriguing concept, right? And it plays out in the film that follows...

THE MOVIE: By mistake, secret agent, Phil Moskowitz, inadvertently helps undercover saboteur, Suki, escape from prison. And then, for no apparent reason whatsoever, this leads them both into a somewhat obtuse encounter, where they’re both hired by regal allies, the Grand Exalted High Majah of Raspur and Teri Yaki, to track down a secret recipe for egg salad.

However, there is also someone else hot on the trail of the egg salad recipe too. Underworld con-artist, Wing-Fat.

Please note, Wing is a very strange character indeed. You see, although he was able to track down this recipe on-board of a gambling ship owned by the crime boss, Shepherd Wong. He still cannot seem to nab this recipe from this ugly looking twat's grasp.

So what does he do to rectify this situation? Correct - He get's his henchmen to kidnap Phil and Teri, he tortures them in his hideout, and then he forces them to aide him in his venture.

Ha! What a coincidence!

Moreover, another coincidence that comes into play, is that the Grand Exalted High Majah aide, Teri Yaki, somehow manages to infiltrate Shepherd Wong's ship. Plus in addition to this, she figures out that he is hiding the recipe within a safe in his lower decks.

Fortunate, right? No. Not for Teri Yaki. Because one of Shepherd Wong's goons discovers her infiltration, and punishes her accordingly.

Meanwhile, whilst this is going on, Phil, Suki, and Wing, initiate a ploy of their own to infiltrate Shepherds Wong’s ship, under the guise of rodent killers who wish to fumigate the lower decks.

And do you know what? This ploy works!

Still, I suppose that is why what next transpires is a right badly dubbed affair all in all. As recipes go for a song - Wing and Wong do wrong - girls end up in a thong - and Woody ends up smoking a bong.

At the start of 'What's Up Tiger Lily', you are presented with a well crafted Japanese bond-like scene, with people fighting and firing guns at each other. And then suddenly the film stops, and you are quickly presented by the main man himself - Woody Allen - who explains in a interview-like setting, the pretext for the film you are about to watch. Funny way to start a film, I am sure you would agree. But then again this is a very funny film.

Woody in What's Up, Tiger Lily?

Here, check out some of the filmic facts: (1) The original Japanese movie is called 'Key of Keys', and involved a search for some micro-film. (2) The two Japanese spy girls in the movie, Akiko Wakabayashi and Mie Hama, also appeared in the James Bond film 'You Only Live Twice'. (3) This film was kind of Woody Allen's directorial debut. (4) As soon as this film was taken out of Woody Allen's hand, a number of things changed within this picture. For example, Woody's voice was dubbed in the closing credits, the footage of 'The Lovin' Spoonful' was included, and an additional 19 minutes was inserted into this film, to give it more length. (5) Woody hated the inclusion of 'The Lovin' Spoonful' into this film and he threatened to sue. However, when this movie became a hit, he forgot about it. (6) This movie came about in a very strange way. American International Pictures bought the original 1965 Japanese film for $66,000, but thought it was too confusing to be dubbed into a Western picture because of the mumbled story-line. So they thought of the idea of Woody re-dubbing this with his comedic slant, due the unexpected success he had with his screenplay for 'What's New Pussycat'.

Sexy Girls in What's Up, Tiger Lily?

OK, so now that the trivia has been put to bed, how good is this 'remastered' and 're-spoofed' film? Well, personally speaking, I thought 'What's Up Tiger Lily?' is just a masterful piece of work. Stereotypes are satirized. Puns are pronounced. Innuendos are idolized. And Gaffs are generated, all with the intent of marking on celluloid one of the most unique comedies I have ever seen.

Nude Girl in What's Up, Tiger Lily?
Honestly, after watching it, I could not help but surmise what the 'original film' was meant to be. OK, I’m sure that some cleaver editing was utilized to make this story work within context. But how? How did Woody come up with this to begin with? Did he watch this film and analyse another story on top of it? If so, he’s... errr... Bananas! (which is another great Woody Allen film by the way).

Still, whilst saying that, at times I did find the overall through line of this story kind of hard to swallow. But then again, once placated in the universe that Woody has made for this movie, it’s plausible in an 'Austin Powers' kind of the way (click here for review).

What's Up, Tiger Lily? Poster

Oh! And as for the end credits, HA! You have to see it to believe it. A unique film made in the hands of a unique man. An under-appreciated classic.


WHAT'S UP, TIGER LILY? WHAT'S UP, TIGER LILY? Reviewed by David Andrews on April 24, 2012 Rating: 5
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