Cleopatra Jones is back—Karate-kicking her way up The Hong Kong Drug Syndicate! </End Generic Lede>
The original Cleopatra Jones was a low-budget, sloppy charmer. Successful, the movie made four times its budget back after just four weeks of release. Cleopatra Jones and The Casino of Gold, according to Wikipedia, was a critical and commercial flop as the Blaxplotation Era was ending.
Man, I hate the metric of commercial success and even popular opinion as a guide to the inherent worth of a film. But, I wanted to start with some context, as I just came to the movie as a fan of the first Cleopatra Jones. I liked Casino of Gold, maybe even more than the first. It had everything you want in a sequel: bigger, self-deprecating, and more of everything you liked about the first. And Casino of Gold has all that. Plus, there’s little relationship to the first movie, so you can see it as a stand-alone without any previous knowledge.
—Stella Stevens replacing Shelly Winters as The Dragon Lady running the Hong Kong Drug Trade with an iron fist wrapped in a velvet glove. She sword fights and open-mouth kisses naked ladies.
—A new side kick, Mi-Lin Fong who almost out-badasses Cleopatra in the fight scenes. She also brings along a motorcycle crew for some great motorcycle stunts. This makes Casino more of a buddy picture and they both have the charm to pull it off. While some of the banter, and dialogue in general, is groan-worthy, the women commit to the script.
—Norman Fell. The upstairs landlord from Three’s Company plays Cleo’s exasperated, very white handler, a role he’s suited to play.
—More exotic locations: Hong Kong and Macao.
—A Casino destroying final.
—Tamara Dobson’s crazy 1970’s outfits.
Really, the reason to watch Casino is Dobson’s outfits. Sweet 70’s eye candy. Plus, she really rocks the silver/green eyeshadow.
I’m not sure why Dobson didn’t become a bigger star in the neighborhood of Pam Grier. Maybe the failure of Casino torpedoed her career. So sad. She can do the action scenes and is charming and relatable. Only the weak dialogue of this film holding her back.