Directed by: Ricou Browning
Written by: Jack Cowden
Produced by: George Roberts
Cinematography by: Paul Rubenstein
Editing by: Oscar Barber, Angelo Ross
Music by: Mercy
Cast: Ted Vollrath, Richard Jaeckel, Ron Slinker, John Agar, Joan Murphy, Rance Howard, Templeton Fox
Runtime: 1h 25min
Studio: Cinema Artists Production
Distributor: Temple Entertainment
Ted Vollrath, what a man. Karate expert and cold voiced Lou in this film. What's different from him and so many seventies mob guys? Lou has no legs and operates his killings from a wheelchair equipped with a shotgun on the armrest and ninja stars in the spokes. Yep, it could only be that era, and Ted Vollrath (who in real life taught his Karate skills to many disabled people in his lifetime after having his legs amputated after being seriously injured in the Korean War) is a sheer badass enforcer to a drug lord in a film lost over the years. No releases of "The Amazing Mr. No Legs" anywhere, and it's a damn shame.
We open in the moustache seventies with some music sounding like shopping mall funk as a Stan Lee clone and other silent bad guys are in a basement hiding drugs in vegetables (another review claims they are cigars, but they look like vegetables to me). There's a deal gonna go down. Traditionally for crime movies, the deal goes down on the docks and two porno star looking cops interrupt it. A freeze frame fight sequence starts as the credits roll with some congas playing and slow motion shots pop up as well.
Seems to be another deal going down. In the middle of it an invalid dude in a wheelchair is rolled up by a young guy. He has a shotgun attached to one armrest and blasts the hell out of two fellas. He tells his friend to grab all of the gear. He works for D'Angelo, played by Lloyd Bochner (who amongst many credits voiced Mayor Hamilton Hill in a few Batman cartoon series').
Meanwhile, Ken, who is a small time guy in the gang who's only trying to pay off his college fees, has an argument with his girl Tina in his apartment. She falls, cracks her head open and is dead. Ken naturally panics, he calls Lou, a.k.a. No Legs, who arrives with his friend to survey the situation. The girl's brother is a cop which annoys Lou. They inject a large dose of heroin into her corpse and dump her body somewhere quiet. “I have a way of disposing of evidence,” says Lou and then shoots Ken in a cold reptile sort of manner.
Her body is found and Andy her cop brother (who incidently was part of the dockside raid) drowns his sorrows in a bar listening to a crappy soul band that sing way too long for comfort since the singer looks like Harold Bishop from the Aussie soap "Neighbours." He pairs off with some girl that's been watching him all night even though she knows him.
Andy finds himself teamed up with Chuck, who discovers the heroin Tina used was injected an hour after her death. Chuck and the captain decide not to share this information with Andy yet. Chuck decides to investigate Ken and Tina's apartment, taking what he reckons is blood samples off the floor and a photo. The landlady tells him Ken is missing.
D'Angelo is furious about the murder. There is some tension between him and Lou. D'Angelo says that if Ken's body is found “you'll find yourself on a street corner with a tin cup selling lead pencils!” This flips Lou out and privately he goes ballistic telling his sidekick he wants to kill D'Angelo. Not long afterwards, Lou is by the side of his pool doing press-ups on the arms of his chair when a mob of killers invade his yard. Lou throws Ninja stars, which are attached to the wheel spokes and then in this one scene he gets to show his fighting skills which are simply jawdropping. He beats the shit out of two of the gang with his stumps and fists whilst using the stars to kill the others. Then Lou decides it's time to go to war against his old boss.
What's cool is the fact there is very little focus on his disability, instead the character is a cold, humourless, ruthless killing machine with the same feel of the hitmen in the first "Godfather" movie. Unfortunately "The Amazing Mr. No Legs" is quite an empty, dull film that has been built around him. It is a damn shame as well since this is Ted Vollrath's only excursion into movie preservation.
The story is like so many other seventies crime thrillers, most of the acting is mid way between appauling and kindergarten level, and what really stands out are the fist fights -- they are simply terrible and most of the punches do not even connect. Plus there's weird moments, like in the middle of a bar fight some big bruiser bloke throws a chair into a mirror and seems to stare in shock at the curse he's unleashed upon himself.
To top it all, the end drags by about fifteen minutes, mostly padded by a twelve minute car chase scene. That's right, twelve minutes. A poor man's "French Connection." In the middle of this teeth grinding boredom appeared one of those weird moments again which neither me or my Horror Soulmate could work out: why does a cop wear a motorbike helmet whilst driving his car? I mean what did we just see?
This film is not available anywhere. The copy I watched is a DVD-R from what I reckon is a very old Cable TV showing so it was hard to hear mostly. It is a lost exploitation film like "Hammerhead" which I have also reviewed previously. Unlike that film I can't truly say that "The Amazing Mr. No Legs" is worthy of hunting down but if you see it for the right price then have a look just for Ted Vollrath alone and the incredible pool side fight.