Blue Underground’s Blu-Ray of Code 7, Victim 5 and Mozambique features two films that pair well together, as they should: both films are hardboiled crime dramas directed by Robert Lynn and written by Peter Yeldham, adapted from original stories by Harry Alan Towers, and they’re also set in South Africa, giving both a very similar feel. These are James Bond-esque capers with a bevy of buxom ladies and leading men who like their drinks, their smokes, and their women, and this Blu-Ray collection brings them to home video in good quality. Check out reviews of the two films below.
Lex Barker stars as Steve Martin, the leading detective in Code 7, Victim 5. Called to South Africa to investigate a murder that seems to indicate a target on the rich copper baron Wexler (Walter Rilla), he uncovers a larger scheme that involves multiple killings and a hidden secret about Wexler’s past, all while wooing Helga (Ann Smyrner) and Gina (Veronique Vendell) in the process. Lynn directs this in the form of a lighthearted cozy mystery, much more ingrained in the comedic affairs of his leading man than the thrills that often occur around Wexler.
Code 7, Victim 5 is a fun romp around Capetown, taking in the scenery of the area while also making lots of room for beach scenes, car chases around bendy cliffs, and a somewhat lecherous inspector named Lean (Ronald Fraser) who, at an advanced age, still seems to bed the nubile women around town with ease. Barker plays Steve Martin as a more lighthearted, albeit less interesting, James Bond, consistently unfaltering in his amusement at the goings-on that threaten Wexler’s life.
The plot itself is relatively simple, though Yeldham throws in a few twists for good measure. The idea is that Wexler, in his prime, forced his friends to keep a murderous secret in exchange for a nice payoff after he took over the copper mills of his victim, and now the person who knows about that secret is out to get the rest of the conspirators. Martin’s work takes him to a number of different places, tracking down the various people in Wexler’s photograph who are likely to be the next victims; in that regard, Code 7, Victim 5 offers a lot of different setpieces and a number of intriguing conversations, ending with a particularly interesting sequence where Martin watches a man die as he explains Wexler’s wrongdoings.
At times, Lynn’s pacing becomes an issue; the car chases go on just a tad too long, and an underwater scuba diving sequence attempts to build tension during a murder but instead focuses on fish and swimming excessively. But Code 7, Victim 5 is able to overcome these flaws and get back to what makes it stand out from other crime capers: its main character (and often Inspector Lean) and his refusal to give up on the case, leading him to uncover a surprising suspect.
Some viewers will find Code 7, Victim 5 a slow excursion, used to the more chaotic antics of Bond and other crime dramas of the time. Its light, comedic tone and sometimes offensive caricatures of South Africans are also indicative of the period. Ultimately, though, the film is an interesting knock-off mystery that finds promise in Barker’s portrayal of the lead man, and it’s curious that Lynn didn’t return to the character in another film to craft a series out of Martin’s investigations.
Mozambique is clearly another Robert Lynn film, and it features many of the same patterns and themes as Code 7, Victim 5. Steve Cochran stars as Brad Webster, a blacklisted pilot who moves to Mozambique, South Africa after receiving an invitation from Da Silva (Martin Benson) to work for him; it turns out, however, that Da Silva’s job involves questionable activities, including prostitution. After Webster meets Christina (Vivi Bach) on his plane out to Mozambique, he becomes involved with her – and is forced to save her from an Arab (Gert van der Bergh) when he attempts to take her away.
Racial stereotypes are definitely present in Mozambique, but the film itself offers a grittier mystery that doesn’t involve a detective in the traditional sense of the word. Webster’s anxiety over his previous plane crash are a major part of the film, and Lynn does a good job of developing his characters while crafting a suspense story around them. Yet again, it’s the leading man – thanks to Cochran – who carries the film throughout much of its plot, because Yeldham’s script often forgets about the overarching murder plot at the heart of Mozambique. It only gets down to business in the film’s last act, instead opting for adventure as Webster sneaks into the Arab’s compound and rescues Christina from sexual slavery.
But that mystery is the best part of Lynn’s direction, coming together quite well as the pieces begin to fit together. The crime involves a number of parts, including a widowed woman (Hildegard Knef) escaping with her husband’s money and a little person stowing away in an airplane compartment before committing a murder; Yeldham’s script, while often ridiculous and over-the-top, is worth the watch alone, and Lynn’s pacing is a bit better – though still lingering – in this film.
Again, Mozambique isn’t a crime masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but it does have a number of good moments that keep it interesting. Most effective is its depictions of Webster with his post-traumatic disorder and Ilona the eventual femme-fatale, because Yeldham does do some good character work within the arc of the film. Mozambique is another noir-ish copy of better films, but it ticks off all the right boxes.
Blue Underground has done a good job with both audio and video on this release. Both films have a sort of hazy color balance to them – not bright per se, but kind of washed out. No issues with film quality that I could detect, and no real grain to speak of. Audio is presented in DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio and sounds great, with no drop-outs or other issues. English subtitles are available for both films. Ultimately, both films are presented in excellent quality, so you really get bang for your buck here, albeit without any special features besides trailers.