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The Asian ApertureGolden Needles
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, June 24, 2012    Share

It was with wild eyed excitement and a taste of the absurd that led me to watch Golden Needles starring Joe Don Baker. I have seen Bakerís ridiculous acting cut to shreds in some really funny lines from Mystery Science Theater 3000. What sold me on Golden Needles was Robert Clouse as the director the man who directed Enter the Dragon. If you take a look at all of Robert Clouseís post Enter the Dragon work, you will find an incompetent director that churned out The Master TV series, Gymkata, and Ironheart with Bolo Yeung. Bolo was the muscular mountain of a man who was Hanís main bodyguard in Enter. Gymkata is only made tolerable through the Mystery Science treatment. Still I was looking forward to wallow in the misery that Clouse would unleash with a vengeance in Golden Needles.

To my surprise a lot of the same actors from Enter the Dragon returned in 1974 to be a part of Golden Needles. Jim Kelly, the gentleman with the huge afro, was back. Pat Johnson who got into a fight with Roper, played by John Saxon, on the golf course at the beginning of Enter also returned. Johnson is a 9th degree black belt and was trained by Chuck Norris. Johnson trained Ralph Macchio in karate for The Karate Kid. The biggest amusement for me was seeing the man who played Bruce Leeís mentor from Enter. At the beginning of Enter you see Lee speaking with an elderly man who tells him about Hanís tournament. This same actor returned and can be seen at the beginning of Golden Needles, laying on a table while tiny needles are inserted into his skin.

Even the soundtrack is the same as Enter the Dragon and it sounds like unused music.

Golden Needles begins with a gold statue that has various acupuncture needles. A frail, old man in a wheelchair is led by beautiful women to a table where he lives down. After laying down an acupuncturist sticks the needles inside that corresponds to places on the gold statue. After mere seconds his fingers clench and he is filled with vigor and energy. He is jumps off the table, no longer needing his wheelchair, and taking the women back into a room and closing the door.

Suddenly guys show up in flameproof suits carrying flame throwers and torch the place and everyone inside. They grab the statue and escape.

The sexy Elizabeth Ashley offers cold hard cash to buy the statue by is teased and harassed by a tough guy who asks for more money. When Ashley refuses, he humiliated her by painting green circles around her neck. She leaves and seeks out the help of the only man in Hong Kong strong enough to get her that statue, Joe Don Baker. Baker breaks in and attacks highly skilled kung fu guys by running up to them and giving the old John Wayne punch from a mile away. If this telegraphed punch should fail, he slaps them. When you see the gut on Baker, you have to wonder who he can actually beat up? Hopefully, the Hong Kong stunt team was well paid to make it look like the overweight Texan could actually hurt anyone. Baker manages to get the statue and escapes. The gangsters are busy placing dangerous snakes in his path. The clever and resourceful Baker merely jumps up on a cabinet to walk above the menacing snakes on the floor. Never have I seen such a crappy trap so easily foiled. Golden Needles was really starting to look like a bad cartoon with no name characters.
Ok, Baker meets up with Ashley and hands over the statue. She asks him what he wants in exchange this includes $30 grand and a night of hanky panky with Ashley, as Baker looks Ashley up and down like a creepy leecher.

In one of the least romantic scenes ever filmed. Baker and Ashley, fully clothed, roll around on top of each other inside a hotel. When they are finally shown in the nude, it is a horrendous sight that Clouse was actually trying to make look sexy. You just canít film Baker naked with the shape his body was in back in 1974. I just have to think that Ashley grew tired and annoyed of having Bakerís gut bouncing into her stomach. Hopefully there were few retakes because I donít see how she could have survived all that loving. A lot of shots show Baker in bed with a cover over his mid-section or shots of his legs and feet. Iím not sure what Clouse was trying to achieve in this disturbing love making scene with a fat guy getting it on with a sexy female who is way out of his league. Clouse was clearly on a different plane of existence then the rest of humanity when he foolishly attempted to create a love scene. I have seen tons of bad sex scenes but this one should go down and being one of the worst.
The only saving grace was Jim Kelly. To see him with a bigger afro and a moustache, you could have sworn he was Jimi Hendrix. As Kelly and Baker walk inside the LA airport, Kelly makes a crack about how big Bakerís gut is.

The only saving grace to Golden Needles was Jim Kelly and Joe Don Baker fighting inside a LA health club. Between shots of naked old men showering after tennis, you see Kellyís kicks and punches that sting. This is edited together with Baker running up and slapping people. Baker and Kelly are joined by a cute yet deadly Chinese woman, Frances Fong, who can actually use kung fu and has her share of impressive kicks and knockouts. This is almost a bizarre parody of Enter the Dragon with Jim Kelly remaining as Jim Kelly, Joe Don Baker as a fat John Saxon, and Frances Fong as a female Bruce Lee.

The biggest surprise to me was seeing Burgess Meredith trying to playing a ruthless tycoon and coming across as a wimpy rich guy with an irritating voice. Not a good choice for the villain.

Nothing about Golden Needles works at all. It is no surprise that this tanked back in 1974. Today it would have gone direct to video/DVD. There are very similar scenes of Hong Kong that looked like the cast and crew just revisited places from Enter the Dragon. Some of the night shots in Hong Kong are good. That still doesnít make for an entertaining movie.

Your best bet with Golden Needles is to turn it into a drinking game.

1 Star for Jim Kellyís fight inside the LA health club

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2012 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2012 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.

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