Jaguar Lives (1979)
In the great tradition of the double cross we find two top notch secret agents on a mission to prevent a giant monument in the shape of a cross from being detonated on a mountain top. Before the opening credits play out one will leave the other for dead with a bullet in the back and be himself presumed missing in action after the explosion detonates.
Our left for dead agent played by Karate Champion Joe Lewis is soon recuperating and living the cowboy life on the range with Woody Strode. He’s soon lured back into the “agency”by Barbara Bach who sends him on a mission to stop an international drug ring led by a mysterious figure. ‘I need the Jaguar” she tells him. Lewis’ code name.
Lewis son finds himself making contact with Joseph Wiseman who in turn gives him his next lead in the fight against the opium trade. Up next in the gallery of guest stars that Lewis makes contact with is a rather Castro(esque) dictator played by a perfectly over the top Donald Pleasence. Over the top meaning totally enjoyable. But then Donald usually is when he’s slicing the ham a bit thick.
Piecing the drug trafficking together finds our action hero touching base with Shipping Tycoon John Huston who it seems has been blackmailed at the threat of death to those around him if he doesn’t comply and allow the drug traffickers to utilize his ships to move the opium.
“He’s explosive as he is charming.” So says Capucine as she is next on the list of well known faces that the intrepid agent comes into contact with. He leaves her squad of goons lying face down as he moves on to the final king pin and the top billed actor of this wanna be hybrid Chuck Norris/James Bond flick. It’s none other than arguably the screen’s most iconic actor in a villainous role, Sir Christopher Lee.
Lee has his minions put Lewis through a series of fights involving samurai warriors and other assorted experts in the art of killing. Can the Jaguar come through the challenges and face off against the mysterious presence that pulls the strings in the drug trade world? Could it possibly be his ex partner the Cougar? Find yourself a copy and you too can see the mystery unfold and witness the Jaguar in action.
Trying it’s best to give off an exotic feel, Jaguar Lives was filmed in Spain with plenty of stock footage thrown in as it’s supposed to be a global adventure. Locale’s like Tokyo, Hong Kong and Rome are destinations that Lewis’ agent travels to in order to bring down Lee and his cronies. There’s a nostalgic feel here as the guest stars are a who’s who of James Bond co stars. Bond faced down Lee, Pleasence and Wiseman. Had a romp with Bach and even Huston turned up in the unofficial Bond entry Casino Royale in 1967.
Originally this was to be developed into a series of films that never materialized. Karate champ Lewis is really no better or worse an actor than Chuck Norris was at the time and the fight scenes are staged well enough for the era. Lewis is the credited choreographer as well for the on screen fighting. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.
Lee would actually turn up in a very similar role opposite Chuck Norris in An Eye For Eye for those like me who do their best to see the entire filmography of Sir Christopher.
This one was one of those I’ve had lying around from the VHS era if you are interested.