The Killing Bottle (1967)
The Killing Bottle (国際秘密警察 絶体絶命 Kokusai Himitsu Keisatsu: Zettai Zetsumei, lit. International Secret Police: Desperate Situation)[note 2] is a Japanese science fiction spy film produced by Toho and Takarazuka Eiga.[note 1] Based on Michio Tsuzuki's 1959 novel Desperate Situation, it is the fifth and final entry in Toho's International Secret Police series following 1965's Key of Keys. Toho released it to Japanese theaters on February 11, 1967, with exportation to other countries carried out by Toho International. It is the only of the International Secret Police films to employ sci-fi elements.
Plot[edit | edit source]
In Hong Kong, the director of the Hong Kong branch of "ZZZ"—an organization specializing in contracted killings—introduces a client seeking a political assassination to a brand-new product: a 'Killing Bottle' loaded with a foam that expands to 3,000 times its size when exposed to air and hardens to crush its victim to death. The director offers to demonstrate the device on an agent of the International Secret Police (ISP) who had bugged the room and was listening in from a nearby building. The agent, Shimada, flees the building and stashes photographs and an audio taping of the conversation on the seat of a parked car, but is killed when a ZZZ operative tosses a Killing Bottle into his vehicle. The owner of the car where he'd stashed the tape and film, a young woman, sits down inside and drives off.
In Japan, ISP agent Jiro Kitami is dropped off at the organization's Far East Bureau, hidden within a prison. The bureau's chief tasks Kitami with investigating an ad in the newspaper which claims to be offering up Agent Shimada's tape and film from Hong Kong. Kitami arrives at the listed hotel room to find the girl from Hong Kong. She allows Kitami to retrieve the tape and film from her luggage, but he is soon held at gunpoint by a blond man who confiscates them. The two break into a fistfight, but are interrupted by gunshots through the window. The men go outside and engage the sniper in a gunfight, with the blond man ultimately shooting him dead; Kitami finally recognizes his newfound partner as fellow ISP agent John Carter. News of the gunman's failure reaches ZZZ in Hong Kong, and the chief orders that he and five of his trusted assassins travel to Japan themselves. A competition arises between two such hitmen, Ken Hayata and Ayako, when the former pledges to carry out his mission alone. Back at the Far East Bureau, Kitami and Carter submit the tape and film to the chief, but find that they are blank. At an airport, the agents observe the touching down of the Prime Minister of Buddhabal and the heads of his army and police force. Carter enters the hotel where the Prime Minister is staying and bumps into his former comrade Hayata, unaware of his current employment. On the third floor, Carter meets with Buddhabal army general Lubasa, who explains that ZZZ intend to assassinate the Prime Minister during his stay in Japan. Meanwhile, Kitami drinks at Club Grand while observing a performance by ZZZ assassin Ayako, who has taken up the identity of exotic dancer Atom Rosa. Kitami opens up the newspaper to find yet another ad requesting a meeting with ISP, and arrives at the listed hotel room to find Hayata strangling the same girl from before. The girl manages to wriggle free, pulling off Hayata's prosthetic arm before fainting at the sight. Kitami brawls with Hayata before eventually driving him to flee. The girl awakens and pleads with Kitami to become an assistant to the ISP, but he dupes her and makes off with Shimada's real tape and film. Kitami brings his findings back to the bureau, and Carter recognizes a pendant from one of the photographs as that held by Lubasa during their meeting. Carter attempts to phone Lubasa, but is informed that he and the Prime Minister have left to visit Hakone.
As the Prime Minister jets around Lake Ashi in a motorboat, Ayako and her three hitmen plan to bomb him with explosive radio-controlled boats. The Prime Minister's boat loses power as the payloads draw near. However, Kitami and Carter arrive in a helicopter and shoot out the explosives, and the Prime Minister is retrieved by Lubasa and the Buddhabalese police chief in another motorboat. In Carter's hotel room, he and Kitami compare Shimada's photographs with shots of Lubasa that Carter had taken with a hidden camera, but conclude that Lubasa was not ZZZ's mystery client. After Kitami heads to his own room, Carter answers a phone call only to be blasted with sleeping gas from the telephone. One of the ZZZ hitmen enters the room, but is attacked by Carter, who was feigning unconsciousness. Ayako and her other men also arrive and take Carter to the roof, while the first assassin enters Kitami's room to murder him, but in fact shoots a decoy Kitami had set up in his bed. Ayako's men douse Carter in alcohol and prepare to push him off the roof, planning to frame him for killing Kitami in a drunken stupor before committing suicide. Kitami barges into a room just below where Carter is standing, and finds the girl he'd stolen Shimada's tape and film from inside. She helps him to hold her bed out of the window for Carter to land on, but the three of them are then cornered when they attempt to escape. The girl incapacitates the hitmen by throwing vinyl records at them like discuses. Lubasa arrives at the room and takes the three to the Prime Minister's room, where they find the police chief unconscious and the Prime Minister suffocating in foam. As Kitami and Carter free the Prime Minister from the foam, the girl spots Hayata from outside the window, grinning and saluting Carter before fleeing into the woods.
Carter tries to reason with Hayata as he and Kitami chase him through the woods, but Hayata escapes when he hesitates to shoot him. Carter explains to Kitami that Hayata had served under him during the Korean War, and recalls a time when Hayata had severed his own arm to free himself from under rubble. Later, as Kitami and Carter are driving, the girl from the hotel reveals that she'd stowed away in their car. She continues to try to become the agents' assistant and mentions their car being unlocked, leading them to pull over and flee the car in the belief that it'd been booby-trapped. Believing the agents are simply trying to get rid of her, the girl goes to retrieve her handbag but faints when it explodes. The trio of ZZZ hitmen pull up to inspect the burning car, and Carter places a tracker on their vehicle. However, when he and Kitami return to where the girl had collapsed, the only trace of her left is a single shoe. The three hitmen and another shadowy figure arrive at a secluded location, where they find ZZZ's Hong Kong director along with Ayako and Hayata. The mystery figure, who is in fact the Buddhabalese police chief and ZZZ's original client, berates the director for his assassins' use of explosive boats rather than the Killing Bottle which they'd agreed upon. Ayako defends her methods, reasoning that the Prime Minister's death should come as quick as possible, but Hayata taunts that she simply wants to be the one to get the kill first. The client commends their enthusiasm, but insists on the Killing Bottle's use. With only two days left before the Prime Minister's return to Buddhabal, Kitami and Carter launch a search for ZZZ's hideout using special receivers to trace the tracker Carter had planted on the hitmen's car. Kitami traces the signal to Club Grand, finding the source of the signal—a decoy receiver—in a chest in Ayako's dressing room. Ayako soon enters and sprays Kitami with sleeping gas. As the trio of hitmen stuff Kitami in the chest and load it onto a truckbed, Carter traces the signal of a different receiver to an abandoned castle.
Inside the castle, Carter finds Hayata, who explains that his time in the war has given him an addiction to killing, but assures Carter that his attempts to kill him are nothing personal. Carter absent-mindedly steps on a bear trap, and Hayata tosses a Killing Bottle next to him. Hayata also provides him an axe, which he encourages him to use to cut off his own foot just as Hayata had done with his arm during the war. Meanwhile, Ayako's hitmen become caught in traffic as they are taking the chest holding Kitami to a burial site. The girl from before uses a pulley to retrieve Kitami's chest and replace it with a decoy, and takes him back to a hotel. Kitami questions the girl's disappearance, but they are interrupted by beeping from the receiver, indicating that Carter is nearby. Kitami and the girl trace the signal to the castle, finding a shoe caught in the bear trap with no sign of Carter. However, Kitami hears the yells of Carter and finds him emerging from a tunnel outside, having escaped the bear trap thanks to a gun he'd tucked in his boot. The next day, Lubasa is visited by the Buddhabalese police chief at the Prime Minister's hotel. The two share drinks and cigarettes and agree to join forces, with the chief gifting Lubasa a lighter with a clock attached. However, the chief's drink was laced with poison, and he collapses dead to the ground. Lubasa speaks with Carter over the phone, lying to him that the Prime Minister's next destination had been changed from Nara Dreamland to Momoyama Castle. Kitami and Carter stake out Momoyama Castle, but are found by the mysterious girl, who tells them that the Prime Minister is at Nara Dreamland. The pair arrive at Nara Dreamland and find the Prime Minister observing a marching band, but are stuck up by two of Ayako's men disguised as workers. Hayata, the ZZZ director, and the third of Ayako's men attack and steal the costumes of a trio of performers putting on a bank robbery show. Ayako and the director select the Prime Minister from the crowd to participate in the show, and load him into the back of a truck with a Killing Bottle. As the first two hitmen prepare to shoot Kitami and Carter in an empty café, the mystery girl appears from behind a counter and throws plates at the men. Kitami and Carter disarm the men and shoot them dead before splitting up: Kitami pursuing the truck and Carter chasing after Hayata.
Eventually, Kitami climbs onto the roof of the truck and saves the Prime Minister by shooting out a padlock on the truck's rear doors. As the truck passes under a blocked off bridge, Kitami and the Prime Minister grab hold of straps hanging off the bridge. After Ayako and the ZZZ director burst through the barricade and crash into a ditch, they are consumed by a torrent of foam from the Killing Bottle. As Kitami and the Prime Minister look on, Lubasa pulls up behind them and prepares to shoot the Prime Minister. However, Kitami is alerted by a train passing behind them and shoots Lubasa, who falls to the ground and is blown apart by a bomb the police chief had set for him in the lighter. Meanwhile, Carter chases Hayata to a cliff and they begin to brawl as Ayako's final hitman draws near. While trying to fire on Carter, the assassin hits Hayata in the leg. Kitami arrives on the scene and kills the hitman, but Carter begs him not to kill Hayata. Carter tries in vain to talk Hayata down, but Hayata pulls out a blade and stabs himself through the chest before tumbling lifelessly off the cliff. At the airport, Kitami and Carter speak with the Prime Minister just before his flight home. The Prime Minister maintains that his trip was for sightseeing, and says he will have Lubasa and the police chief buried as heroes, to the confusion of Kitami and Carter. The mysterious girl who'd followed the agents throughout their investigation enters the room, and the Prime Minister introduces her as "X2", his personal spy. The Prime Minister heads out, but Kitami requests one last explanation from X2. She concedes that the Prime Minister was always aware that the leaders of his army and police were plotting his demise, and so brought them to Japan to eliminate them. Concluding that it was them who were played all along, Kitami and Carter see X2 off. Later, as the agents are preparing to travel to their next job, they are distracted by an attractive woman on the street. They are dragged to the ISP's truck, but Kitami launches a flare from his lighter and the two disappear in a flash. Back on the street, the agents resume fighting over the woman.
Staff[edit | edit source]
- Main article: The Killing Bottle/Credits.
Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.
- Directed by Senkichi Taniguchi
- Written by Shinichi Sekizawa
- Based on the novel Desperate Situation by Michio Tsuzuki
- Executive producer Tomoyuki Tanaka
- Associate producer Nick Adams (unconfirmed)[note 3]
- Music by Sadao Bekku
- Insert song "The Black Blues"
- Written and performed by Anne Mari
- Composed by Sadao Bekku
- Cinematography by Takao Saito
- Edited by Yoshitami Kuroiwa
- Production design by Hiroshi Ueda
- 1st assistant directors Shoji Takano, Heikichi Tsushima
Cast[edit | edit source]
Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.
- Tatsuya Mihashi as Agent Jiro Kitami of the International Secret Police
- Nick Adams as Agent John Carter of the International Secret Police (Japanese voice actor: Masaaki Yajima)
- Makoto Sato as Ken Hayata, ZZZ agent and Carter's former subordinate
- Kumi Mizuno as X2, undercover spy of Buddhabal's Prime Minister[note 4]
- Akihiko Hirata as chief of the Buddhabalese national police
- Yoshio Tsuchiya as General Lubasa of the Buddhabalese army
- Anne Mari as ZZZ Agent Ayako, aka nightclub dancer Atom Rosa
- Tetsu Nakamura as director of ZZZ's Hong Kong branch
- Jun Tazaki as Prime Minister of Buddhabal
- Ryuji Kita as chief of the ISP's Far East Bureau
- Sachio Sakai as ISP Agent Shimada, victim of the Killing Bottle
- Kazuo Kawakami, Shoji Oki, Hideyo Amamoto as ZZZ hitmen
- Tatsuo Hasegawa as ZZZ sniper who assails Kitami and Carter
- Kiyoshi Nishikawa, Yasushi Yokoyama, Jiro Makino as performers at Nara Dreamland
- Asako Kamiya as woman who speaks to Kitami at Club Grand
- Mari Takeno as apprentice geisha approached by Carter on the street
- Osman Yusuf as man in sunglasses disembarking from plane (uncredited)
- Midori Uchiyama as woman in sunglasses seeing off plane (uncredited)
- Kamayuki Tsubono as man seeing off plane (uncredited)
- Toshiko Nakano as spectacled woman seeing off plane (uncredited)
Appearances[edit | edit source]
Weapons, vehicles, races, and organizations[edit | edit source]
- International Secret Police (ISP)
- Killing Bottle
Development[edit | edit source]
Variety reported on April 6, 1966 that Toho were planning a sci-fi co-production with Allied Artists Pictures entitled The Killing Bottle, based on a screenplay by Michio Tsuzuki and starring Nick Adams, Akira Takarada, Mie Hama, and another American actor. Interestingly, the article made no mention of Tatsuya Mihashi, the leading man of the International Police Series of which The Killing Bottle would ultimately be an entry. Of this original reported lineup, only Adams would make the cut. Furthermore, the final film was not written by Michio Tsuzuki, but rather by Shinichi Sekizawa based on a novel by Tsuzuki. Adams had officially signed on to the project sometime before June 15 of that year, when the San Francisco Examiner reported that his own company would co-produce the film with Toho instead of Allied Artists. Takarazuka Eiga would ultimately be the company credited as the movie's co-producer, and it is unclear what involvement if any Adams' company had on the finished product.
Of this planned partnership between an American and Japanese studio, Adams was quoted as saying, "It promotes good relations—particularly with this American. I get 25 percent of the action[.]" He went on to describe his character in the film as "a [Humphrey] Bogart-type detective who foils a plot to assassinate the Emperor of Japan." In the final production, the assassins instead target the Prime Minister of the fictional nation of Buddhabal. Months later on August 17, a quote from Adams appeared in Barney Glazer's Star Gazer column in the South Pasadena Review, writing "Okay, Barney, fans have been waiting for the guy in [The Killing Bottle]. I'm going to burn up the screen."
In an interview published in Ohio's Akron Beacon Journal on January 8, 1967, Adams briefly commented, "The Killing Bottle is a spy thing. I hope lots of people see it so maybe I can get my career moving again."
Production[edit | edit source]
The Killing Bottle was filmed in at least five Japanese cities, beginning the week of June 21, 1966. Shooting wrapped no later than August 22 of that year, when Pennsylvania's Evening Herald reported that star Nick Adams had returned from Japan. According to the paper, the scene in which Adams' character is caught in a bear trap was shot on the final day of filming. A real bear trap was used for the scene, with Adams' leg protected by a metal guard. The paper alleges that Adams actually became stuck in the trap, which was chained down, and had to be given an axe to chop himself free and escape being engulfed by the foam used to portray the Killing Bottle.
Gallery[edit | edit source]
- Main article: The Killing Bottle/Gallery.
Alternate titles[edit | edit source]
- International Secret Police: Desperate Situation (literal Japanese title)
- International Secret Police: Driven to the Wall (alternate translation)
- Desperate Situation (shortened Japanese title)
- The Bottle that Kills (Flaša koja ubija, Yugoslavian title)
Foreign releases[edit | edit source]
An English language version of The Killing Bottle was prepared by Toho and advertised in volume 13 of their Toho Films catalog as well as the 36th edition of UniJapan Film Quarterly.
Patel Enterprises of Bombay, India submitted the English version to the country's Central Board of Film Certification, which requested approximately nine seconds of footage be deleted. An "A" certificate for the film was issued on June 21, 1967. Patel also submitted an English-dubbed trailer, which received a "U" certificate that June 29 after about two seconds of footage was removed. The Gazette of India's report on the former provides the only known lines from the English script:
- Kitami: “No more dames.”
- Bartender: “She's imported.”
- Kitami: “I stick to domestic stuff.”
The existence of a Yugoslavian poster indicates the film was also released there by Avala-Genex, though it is unknown whether the version exhibited was dubbed or subtitled.
U.S. release[edit | edit source]
Although The Killing Bottle was never released in the United States, Toho licensed the film to International Co-Productions, Inc. of New York City for $25,000. ICI's rights to the film included all theatrical and television rights in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand through 1980. In May 1968, ICI president Ted Kneeland formed Cineco Productions to prepare The Killing Bottle for release. Peter Fernandez was hired to write and direct the English version through the associated company Zavala-Riss Productions, which also poised to re-edit and re-score the film. Kneeland boasted to Variety that ICI and Zavala-Riss had extensively researched film dubbing techniques and technology, and that the dubbing would be budgeted at $30,000 to $50,000. Because Nick Adams' dialogue for the film had been lost, Fernandez had voice actor Jack Curtis loop Adams' performance.
Video releases[edit | edit source]
Toho DVD (August 17, 2022)
- Region: 2
- Discs: 1
- Audio: Japanese
- Special features: Theatrical trailer, photo gallery
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- The other films of Toho's International Secret Police series include:
- Interpol Code 8 (国際秘密警察 指令第8号, released August 31, Kokusai Himitsu Keisatsu: Shirei Daihachigō, lit. International Secret Police: Directive No. 8)1963
- Tiger Fang (国際秘密警察 虎の牙, released February 14, Kokusai Himitsu Keisatsu: Tora no Kiba, lit. International Secret Police: Tiger Fang)1964
- A Keg of Powder (国際秘密警察 火薬の樽, released December 9, 1964 Kokusai Himitsu Keisatsu: Kayaku no Taru, lit. International Secret Police: Keg of Gunpowder)
- Key of Keys (国際秘密警察 鍵の鍵, released October 23, Kokusai Himitsu Keisatsu: Kagi no Kagi, lit. International Secret Police: Key of Keys)1965
- The penultimate two films, A Keg of Powder and Key of Keys, were re-edited and dubbed over to become the 1966 comedic American film What's Up, Tiger Lily?, the directorial debut of Woody Allen.
- The Killing Bottle is the only film of the series to have had its title significantly changed for international release. Rather than using "Desperate Situation", the English title's focus is shifted to a device used by the film's antagonists.
- The Killing Bottle was actor Nick Adams' third and final Japanese film appearance, after the comparatively more popular Invasion of Astro-Monster and Frankenstein vs. Baragon.
- It is also the only of Adams' Japanese roles in which he was not dubbed over by Goro Naya for its theatrical release; his voice was instead provided by Masaaki Yajima.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- American sources initially reported the film as a co-production between Toho and "Nick Adams Enterprises," with no mention of Takarazuka. Only Toho and Takarazuka are credited in the film itself.
- The "Zettai Zetsumei" portion is instead rendered as 絶対絶命 in the April 1967 edition of UniJapan.
- As noted previously, The Killing Bottle was reported in some American sources as being a co-production with Nick Adams Enterprises. Adams himself was also sometimes suggested to have produced the film, including in the South Pasadena Review and the Akron Beacon Journal—both publishing their stories either during or after filming. Stuart Galbraith IV lists Adams as the movie's associate producer in his 2008 book The Toho Studios Story, but notes that, "His credit as associate producer is unconfirmed."
- Referred to as "Lady X" in the April 1967 edition of UniJapan and on the film's Yugoslavian poster, possibly originating from Toho's English script.
References[edit | edit source]
This is a list of references for The Killing Bottle. These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: 
Bibliography[edit | edit source]
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