The French Have A Word For It....Judo
The French Have A Word For It....Judo
by Dave Goode
If you wanted to see martial arts action in western cinema during the 60s,the place you wanted to go was the secret agent movie.You wouldn't find
too many spinning wheel-kicks in these flicks.Just stalwart,square-jawed secret agents trading shuto blows and judo throws with hired assasins and
enemy agents.The same basic hand to hand combat techniques that these steely-eyed cold warriors would have learned while in the military before
embarking on a life in counter-intelligance and espionage.To be sure Bruce Lee student and future Academy Award winner James Coburn had some
well choreographed martial arts scenes in OUR MAN FLINT and it's sequel IN LIKE FLINT in which he portrayed super agent,Derek Flint.American
karate champions Joe Lewis,Mike Stone and Chuck Norris flashed a little bit of their tournament wining style as hitman in the Matt Helm movie,THE
WRECKING CREW starring Dean Martin.But for the most part the heroes and villians in these movies adhered to the K.I.S.S(Keep it simple stupid.)
system.The major exception to this rule were the Le Judoka movies.
Author and judo practioner,Ernie Clerk wrote a series of just under a dozen books about a secret agent known as Le Judoka.These books were incredibly popular in France.No suprise in that when you realize how popular the sport of judo is in France.So it was in 1967 during the height of
of the secret agent craze that Marc St.Clair...Le Judoka was brought to life on the silver screen.LE JUDOKA,SECRET AGENT was adapted from
author Clerk's book THE JUDOKA DANS LA VILLE by screenwriters Jacques Guymont and Pierre Zimmer.The film was directed by Zimmer and
starred Jean-Claude Bercq as Le Judoka.Also featured is Henri Garcin as the hero's comic relief sidekick and beautiful Marilu Tolo as a femme fatale
named Vanessa.The movie really isn't much different from any other Eurospy movie from the period,except for the hero's martial arts skills that went
beyond the typical shuto blow to the neck.And this movie was successful to warrant a sequel.
I'm sure that if LE JUDOKA DANS L'ENFER(THE JUDOKA IN HELL) had had an American release it would be enjoying cult status today.This
1968 sequel directed by Maurice Labro from a screenplay by Labro and Jean Meckert found,George Lazenby lookalike,Marc Briand replacing
Jean-Claude Bercq in the role of Marc St.Clair.Marilu Tolo is back,but this time she plays a character named Jennifer.Like Bercq before him Briand
is ruggedly handsome and even more athletic.When he goes into action you can believe you are watching a rokudan at work.Of special note this film
features a young man named Jean Ferre in the role of a cyclopean martial arts master.Ferre may be better known to you under the name he took as a
professional wrestler...Andre the Giant.Wearing make-up to make him look Asian and sporting a black gi,Ferre gives a tameshiwari demo breaking
both bricks and boards before tossing some normal sized judokas like rag dolls.The young Ferre hadn't yet attained the full height and bulk that would
make him world famous,but he's still an imposing sight.He apears about to be 6'9" and 300 pounds.
The one on one battle between Briand and Ferre is the highlight of this Eurospy thriller.The plot has a pilot kidnapped by the Black Dragon Society
and brainwashed to drop a bomb on Manhattan.Le Judka is sent to rescue him.Pretty simple.The fight choreography is anything but,and you end up
believing Le Judoka can more than hold his own against his titanic adversary.A really fun movie if not an exceptional one from the Eurospy genre.
Le Judoka vs.Andre
November 17th, 2012, 6:17 am
I saw the fight between the young Andre the Giant and le Judoka on youtube.It was very cool.Very impressive.It's no longer up there.
December 30th, 2012, 4:32 pm
I've heard of this series but never saw it.Too bad you coul dn't post a clip.