Classic Paxton Unearthed: TAKING TIGER MOUNTAIN REVISITED
What if I told you that there is a movie based on Bladerunner by William S. Burroughs, shot In back and white, with graphic sex and starring Bill Paxton? Would you believe me or assume that I had totally lost all connection with reality? I assure you that I haven’t lost it yet, but I was given an opportunity to review that exact film. This is a (seemingly) forgotten gem of the late seventies that eventually released in the early eighties and is aptly named Taking Tiger Mountain Revisited. The fact that it is called revisited is very important. The film was originally made without sound and ran out of money, so they decided to take that raw footage to create something new. What emerges is a strange, surreal sci-fi flick that is oddly compelling and way more watchable than I expected.
Here is a brief plot summary:
Militant feminist scientists brainwash research subject to assassinate the Welsh Minister of Prostitution. Meanwhile World War III is being fought and the USA has been invaded.
When I first started watching I have to admit that I was tempted to shut it off. Its rambling style of narration can be grating at first but eventually becomes one of the most amazing aspects of the film. What is happening on screen is pretty mundane, but the voiceover gives it a strange, textured feeling. Even when the screen and narration don’t completely sync up, it still kept me watching and curious of how this all will come together.
I know that I am praising this movie for all of its originality, but I don’t want to overlook the fact that this is still a very difficult film and may be one of these least accessible things that I have ever watched. Experimentation is the key ingredient to this and the avant-garde style could be really off putting to some viewers. There are scenes of ugly, graphic sex mixed with confounding imagery that some will just blow off entirely as artsy-fartsy bullshit. However, if you are someone who enjoys little lost oddities, then you will get something special from this film. I am not sure when this is releasing, but trust me that it is one of a kind and deserves a watch.
The film will be playing at the Oxford Film Festival in February.