by Dave Goode
Brad Harris was one of many American bodybuilders who went to Europe in the early 60s to star in the peplum cycle of films.Or what are more
commonly known as "gladiator movies". His first film roles were as muscular extras in Hollywood productions like Monkey On My Back and the
film adaptation of the Broadway musical Li'l Abner.In Stanley Kubrick's epic film Spartacus he did stuntwork and had a small role(literally as a spear-carrier).After Spartacus was completed he stayed in Europe and starred in such sinew and sandal flicks as The Fury of Hercules and Goliath Against The Giants.After the peplum cycle ran it's course,Harris slimmed down a bit to star in detective movies and spy films including the Kommisar X series.
Co-starring Tony Kendall(Luciana Stella),the Kommisar X movies were one of the more popular series from the Eurospy genre of 60s films and were
based on the novels of German pulp author Paul Alfred Muller.Undoubtably one of the main reasons for the popularity of the series was the chemistry
between it's two leads.Kendall played Joe Walker,the handsome ladies man private eye.Harris had the less showy role as square-jawed and serious police captain Tom Rowland.There were seven entries in the series that began with Hunting The Unknown a.k.a Kiss Kiss Kill Kill in 1965 and ended
in 1971 with The Tiger Gang.
The Kommisar X flicks are a lot of fun.All of them are entertaining,containing all the elements you would expect from a 60s spy flick. Evil masterminds with plans for world domination,beautiful women(both damsels in distress and femme fatales),gun fights and limited martial arts action.
Most of the fights in these flicks found the heroes mixing judo with boxing techniques and the occasional knifehand blow to the neck thrown in.But there was a little bit more in the Kommisar X series.Every now and then you would notice Harris drop into a horse stance and take out an opponent with a reverse punch,that when delivered by the former screen Hercules looked like it might stop a tank.The best would come in the fourth film in the
series...Death Is Nimble,Death Is Quick(1966).
This flick begins with Dan Vadis(another former screen Hercules)dressed in a black robe performing a kata in a cavern/temple somewhere in Ceylon.A short time later his character,named the King,assassinates a diplomat with his karate skills.For some reason that's never explained,he puts a black headband on before he kills someone.A short time later we're introduced to Harris as Capt.Tom Rowland of the NYPD who just happens to be in Ceylon for an Interpol convention.There he gives a demonstration of his own martial arts skills.The stage has been set.You know that by the end of the movie Captain Rowland and the King will be going mano a mano.
The showdown comes in the same temple that we first met the King in.The two antagonists are surrounded by mysterious golden-masked priestesses they tear into each other.The fight would seem quaint to those brought up on Jackie Chan and Jet Li.But to a 1966 audience it would have looked pretty darn cool.It's one drawback is that Harris' shirt isn't torn off in the course of the battle.The two former Hercules going one on one in a karate fight with muscles rippling and gleaming with sweat would have made this a camp classic for the ages.
August 28th, 2012, 3:01 am
I love the Commissar X movies.Harris also does karate in the 3 Fantastic Supermen series.