Directed by:
Written by:
Starring: , , ,




RUNNING TIME: 93 mins [Hong Kong version], 86 mins [export version] 


Queen Elizabeth II is arriving in Hong Kong for a state visit, and the police are so occupied with this that they are unable to focus much on crime, not to mention the huge number of refugees who are flooding into the country due to the Sino-Japanese war. Police Chief Gao orders Detective Xiaoquang to track down a prostitute named Jenny who rang him with news of a planned assassination. Upon finding her, Xiaoquang learns that she found a diagram of something in the pocket of a client and heard him drunkenly say “something big is going to happen, there’s going to be an assassination”. Xiaoquang tries to track down the group of terrorists that the client belongs to, who are indeed planning to kill the queen, but what’s going on with the Queen of Cambodia and her secret group out in the countryside?

It’s generally assumed that one-tine James Bond George Lazenby didn’t appear in any other movies, largely due to the poot reception he got, though of course his performance tends to be thought of more highly these days, and even more so the film which is considered by many, myself  included,  to be the crown jewel in the series. But Lazenby did do other things, in particular three movies for Golden Harvest, which perhaps isn’t surprising. Not only did Lazenby excel in the fight sequences in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,  but he was also a student of Bruce Lee and was intended to be in Game Of Death, the version that he conceived and partly shot in 1973 not long before his death. Golden Harvest would have been up for exploiting any Lee connection. This third of his collaborations with the studio seems to be the least liked and the least seen; in fact this was the first time I’d watched it. It’s a rather interesting and even ambitious production which needed more time to be spent on certain aspects to properly work, and one wonders if it was born when one of the studio executives realised that they could get the rights to footage of Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Hong Kong in 1975 and thought it would be a good and cost-saving idea to build a film around it; honestly there’s loads of her and stuff happening around her. In terms of martial arts the film disappoints, with not much use being made of the skills of some of its stars, but then again the aim here was to make a political suspense thriller, so this shouldn’t automatically be taken as a flaw, and to be fair the plot does get increasingly interesting with several surprises in store for the viewer, which makes up for the unevenness in the way that the sometimes confusing story is presented.

Grainy war footage begins the film, some of which was reused in Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Stars [I checked!], while a narrator tells us that in May 1975 the Indo-Chinese war ended, causing refugees to pour into many neighbouring countries including Hong Kong. Some were penniless, but others weren’t, becoming targets for criminals. The guy then goes on to mention the Queen’s impending visit which is using up a lot of the police force and therefore is “a good time for criminals to go into action”. This dramatic scene-setting is a bit amusing, to be honest. Police chief Gao has just received a phone call from a “hostess” named Jenny who said to him that “something big is going to happen, there’s going to be an assassination”, which really does seem like a very awkward device to move things forward, though does make sense very soon. Detective Xiaoquang is ordered to go to the club where she works, even though Jenny isn’t a fan of the law because her father died in prison. She tells him about a Philipino customer she robbed while passed off who  had and spoke incriminating evidence of a plot to kill the Queen. The police bigwigs meet and say that “violent Irish republicans often threaten the throne with assassination plots”  who “may possibly employ local South East Asian assassins”. We’ve already seen four of the conspirators meet at the airport and now we meet them properly except curiously IRA man George, via photographs the police are looking at. As well as George we have Japanese army explosives expert Miyamoto, Thai heavyweight boxing champion and “prominent killer” Ram Thai, Filipino sharpshooter Chan Lung, another Japanese guy Noda, another Filipino Ah Shan, diver Jimmy, and black Vietnam guerrilla expert Leroy Tucker [Blackie in the Hong Kong version] who’s “particularly skilled at escaping death”.  Oh, and let’s not forget the female Black Rose.

Cutting between these villains and the cops would have been enough. The former need to obtain things to carry their plan out, notably a map that’s in six parts[!] from an “English industrialist”, while the tension builds between them, from Jimmy wanting half of his money in advance, to Jimmy and Ram coming to blows, to George discovering that one of their number has been speaking to the police, chocking him to death before hurling the body down some steps. Then there’s the police investigation, with Jenny [rather too easily] being semi-recruited to aid the cops, who do seem to be increasingly on the right track. However there’s another plot strand, which would be absolutely fine if the cutting between all this wasn’t so disjointed; this movie needed a thorough re-editing job which would have made it so much better. Some seeming refugees hire out a partly ruined house out in the countryside, and the owners – Duck Egg and his uncle – become more and more curious. It’s soon revealed that the leader of this band is the Queen of Cambodia. But what is she doing here? There seems to be more going on than meets the eye. For s start a Triad gang is involved, though this element soon disappears from s script that could have done with a ,major going over, while Angela Mao’s role is really small, even if you just know that she’s going to eventually become very important. Surprises concerning plot and characters become frequent, most of which make sense, some which don’t, not to mention one character hiding in the back of a car and others not caring when they see her. One major revelation doesn’t quite have the emotional charge it should. Nonetheless you’ll be impressed at how many characters die at the conclusion.

It’s easy to feel a great sense of disappointment when, for example, Mao goes up against Bolo Yeung but the fight is only s few seconds long, but Golden Harvest were clearly going for something different here. The first fight is between Yeung and Wang Yu and is extremely short too, though the film is clearly telling us that martial arts won’t be a priority here. Perhaps more irritating is that some of the fighting that we do see is slightly speeded up in usual Hong Kong movie style, and some of it isn’t. The first proper brawl doesn’t take place until around half way through, and has Wang Yu fight some of the villains including Lazenby, then Charles Heung fights Bolo who falls into a lake and rather comically fails to regain his balance. The climax involves lots of guns and explosives, but lacks intensity. It evolves into fighting so that both Mao and Heung can fight Lazenby and Wang Yu can battle a guy with a sword in probably the best fight. Lazenby fighting in water can only bring back memories of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The choreography by Yasuhiro Shikamura is pretty simple i.e. “I hit you, you hit me”. We do have two sex scenes, both involving Judith Brown. One is artfully shot through a partly transparent wall, one has her being roughly handled but likes it; Lazenby even gets to answer the phone while they’re doing it. George sitting in a chair casually smoking a cigar while Jimmy is having sex with his girlfriend, in the first of the two scenes, seems to suggest a love triangle, but this never materialises, But Jenny teasing Xiaoquang, who doesn’t want to admit that he fancies her, is cute, and even more so is Duck visiting the Princess, who of course speaks a different language to him, with stuff. Dean Shek, though starting off being silly, is unusually restrained here.

Humour is fairly minimal though there’s an intentionally funny bit where somebody collapses dead in the police station with hugely overwrought music. Then there’s some bizarre interior design, but of course it was the ’70s. I wasn’t sure if I was intended to laugh when happy hooker Jenny, who says that she’s been a working girl since twelve and Xiaoquang doesn’t express horror or sadness at this, has a rant about the queen in front of loads of other people, asking if the Queen knows about all the bad stuff which has happened to her fellow hookers, shouting “these buildings, these streets, are a criminal paradise and she’s the queen of it all”! Was this meant as an attack on colonialism [Britain ruled Hong Kong from 1841 to 1997 apart from when it was taken over by Japan during World War 2], the Queen herself or just on how governments neglect those at the lower end of society? Who knows, but it’s kind of admirable if out of place. Heung isn’t really charismatic enough considering that he has more screen time than anybody else, though does reasonably well as a hero cop who’s rather out of his depth, but Lazenby, despite being dubbed by someone who sometimes but not always sports an Irish accent in the English language version, is effectively intimidating. Wang Yu is his usual cocky self but seems rather disinterested, while Mao, apart from a great little moment when Duck is being attacked and comes to his rescue with some cool moves, mostly just has to act noble. Director Shan Hsi Ting doesn’t always seem to quite have a handle on the busy script that he concocted.

Set to a musical score credited to Shao-Lung Chou which alternates poorly recorded orchestral bits with strange grooving and throbbing, A Queen’s Ransom contains all the ingredients for a really fine film but is often clumsy and falls considerably short of what it should have been. Saying that though, there’s still plenty to enjoy in it.

Rating: ★★★★★½☆☆☆☆



Limited edition O-Card slipcase featuring new artwork by Darren Wheeling [2000 copies]

1080p HD presentation on Blu-ray of the original Hong Kong theatrical cut from a brand new 2K restoration
This seems to me to be one of the most impressive looking of Eureka’s Golden Harvest releases of late, though of course it helps that the film’s colour palette is so diverse, meaning that there are plenty of opportunities to show off richness of hues. Blacks are also deep and grain is very evenly managed except for a few shots which may have suffered minor damage.

Original Mandarin and optional classic English dub for the Hong Kong theatrical cut
I mostly watched the film with the English dub, because I have a fondness for these ’70 dubs before they tended to lose their flavour in the ‘8os.

Brand new audio commentary by Frank Djeng and Michael Worth
The official specs only list Djeng, but Worth obvi0usly joined him late in the day, so instead of Djeng’s speedy barrage of information [which also makes for a great listen if in a different way], we get the more relaxed approach of the pair. As usual Djeng generally leads, not quite as scene-specific as usual and again no bothering with potted biographies [yes!] telling us assorted interesting tidbits like one actor who died from being ran over, some scenes being shot in the garden and balcony of Bruce lee’s house, and what was the most popular soft drink at the time! Worth as usual comments on filming style, such as the use of dollies rather than zooms which is unusual, tells of him meeting Lazenby to train him, and generally acts as a foil for Djeng, and a most excellent one. Both consider the film to be a bit better than I do, and do put forward good cases for this.

1080p HD presentation on Blu-ray of the original English language export cut from a brand new 2K restoration
This is seven minutes shorter than the original version, though it does have some unique footage, most notably longer introductions to George and Black Rose including a shot of Lazenby from The Man From Hong Kong, and more shots of the Queen. A scene which sets up the confrontation between Jimmy and Bolo is removed,, as well as a far less important one where the Chief flirts with a woman in his office. Perhaps unusually, the first sex scene is shortened and the second one totally missing. Re-editing of shots occurs in a few places, and generally pointlessly. But this is generally a decent version to watch, only really suffering with too many trims to the final sequence.

Classic English dub for the Export version

Brand new audio commentary on the export version by Mike Leeder and Arne Venema
Leeder and Venema are more critical than Djeng and Worth, which makes for an interesting balance. I’m generally in agreement with Leeder and Venena, though I perhaps like the fight choreography slightly more than they do. Leeder tells of when Lazenby unsuccessfully visited Golden Harvest to meet Bruce Lee but then, as he was walking away, had a gold Rolls Royce pulls up beside him containing studio head Raymond Chow, Yeung and Lee who said “get in” and then told Chow to give him 20 000 dollars, of John Cleese wanting Lazenby to play Jesus in Life Of Brian, and expresses a love for Lazenby in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service which I can only echo, while Venema explains a confusing part of the plot, tells us about the Japanese Red Army of which the Japanese government are still looking for members of, not to mention when the Queen visited Australia in 1971 and villains tried to derail the train she was on, but the train was moving so slowly it didn’t work. How do these two keep the energy and enthusiasm going over all these tracks?

Curious George – Brand new documentary featurette by martial artist and actor Michael Worth [15 mims]
I absolutely loved this featurette and only wish that it had been longer. Worth, finally visible to the eye, trained Lazenby in the 1999 for a film and shares his memories of the most unique of 007s. He says how it was obvious that Lazenby had been in street fights from his lack of technique but strong instinct, mentions Lazenby remembering Lee having a chalk board high up which he would jump up and hit multiple times with a piece of chalk, and says that Lazenby admits he was a jerk when be became Bond and arrogant.

080p HD presentation on Blu-ray of the original English language export cut from a brand new 2K restoration

Reversible sleeve featuring original poster artwork


A limited edition collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by James Oliver [2000 copies]


The oddly titled “A Queen’s Ransom” is messy and falls far short of its potential, yet one still can’t help but like it. Eureka have given it their usual fine presentation. Recommended!

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About Dr Lenera 1982 Articles
I'm a huge film fan and will watch pretty much any type of film, from Martial Arts to Westerns, from Romances [though I don't really like Romcoms!]] to Historical Epics. Though I most certainly 'have a life', I tend to go to the cinema twice a week! However,ever since I was a kid, sneaking downstairs when my parents had gone to bed to watch old Universal and Hammer horror movies, I've always been especially fascinated by horror, and though I enjoy all types of horror films, those Golden Oldies with people like Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee probably remain my favourites. That's not to say I don't enjoy a bit of blood and gore every now and again though, and am also a huge fan of Italian horror, I just love the style.

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