Sunday, June 28, 2009

Richard Harrison Tells it Like it is!

Courtesy of Joshkazid, who confesses he "doesn't know w
hy", but has clearly found the best use for mashed-up, spewn out Richard Harrison footage since the glory days of Godfrey Ho, Joesph Lai and IFD:

For the uninitiated Poptique presents a pocket-sized introduction to Richard Harrison - the nation-straddling mustachioed former beefcake who's fast becoming a YouTube favourite!

Harrison knocked about in Utah in his formative years, making his merry way to Hollywood in the late 50s, appearing as a background artiste and hunk for hire until bagging a three picture deal with B-grade studio AIP. They swiftly which sent him packing to Europe, which is where Harrison set up shop for the rest of the decade after his debut star role in (and as) the Invincible Gladiator.

Stealthily slotting into the muscle-bound ex-pat positions held by the like of Steve Reeves, Harrison spent the 60s flitting between sweaty Sword & Sandal Peplum roles and sixgun-totting Spaghetti Westerns. It was in the latter category that he gained his first footnote in film history, turning down Sergio Leone's Fistful of Dollars and recommending chum Clint Eastwood in his stead; sending him off to eventual super-stardom.

Harrison was never so lucky in terms of lead roles again, but continued to carve out a healthy niche nonetheless. If you like Spaghettis, Sandals or Spy movies you're in luck - he made an absolute shit-load.

The 70s ushered in the second phase of his career, as well as his now legendary face-fuzz. The newly 'tached Harrison began globe-trotting with a vengeance, popping up in Egyptian exploitation, Turkish rip-offs, and even Shaw Brothers epics, whilst maintaining his Italian leads in more war, westerns and crime movies. But by the end of the decade Harrison had begun to feel the pinch, as he seemingly became stuck as a bargain basement Chuck Norris in a spiral of micro-budgeted oriental movies.

Just witness the sort of sexy shiz h
e got up to below!

Whilst Harrison may have hit a high note in the late 70s as a low-rent, la
dy-draped Bond wannabe in the dubbylicious 007 meets Bruceploitation classic Challenge of the Tiger, a few short years later he somehow found his way to offices of Joseph Lai's IFD films, and eternal infamy followed...

Lai and his director-in-crime Godfrey Ho put the chop in chop-sockey, taking their ready-made Asian productions and splicing in barely related scenes featuring non-acting westerners to supposedly appeal to international audiences. Depending on what you read, or believe, Harrison signed to appear in a handful of productions but subsequently found the footage turning up in release after release.

Suddenly Harrison was the unwitting whiteman poster boy for cut and paste Hosploitation, and 20 years of hardworking film experience and leading roles evaporated in a cloud of ninja dust.

Despite a long and prolific career poor-old Harrison is almost universally recognised these days for a few weeks work stretched out over the space of nearly a dozen z-grade ninja knock-offs, with titles like Ninja Terminator, Ninja Commandments, Ninja Thunderbolt and Scorpion Thunderbolt.

It may not be far from the legacy he may have wanted, but bless him, it's the one he's ended up with. Hat's off to Harrison!


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