Judge David Gutierrez thinks that two episodes of The Saint are about as good as one viewing of Die Another Day.
The name is Templar. Simon Templar"
Roger Moore returns as the title character in Vendetta for the Saint as he takes on the Italian mob.
In Italy, Simon "The Saint" Templar is minding his own business when he witnesses an encounter between two men. A bank manager believes Alessandro Destamio (Ian Hendry The Avengers) to be an old associate of his. Destamio sends his heavies to permanently quiet the bank manager, raising the Templar's suspicions. Using all his skills and charms, Templar ingratiates himself to Destamio's moll and niece. Templar enlists the aid of the Italian police to bring Destamio down before he is appointed head don.
Fans of the James Bond series of films might find it hard to divorce Moore from his "shaken, not stirred" persona; those fans would be doing themselves a disservice. Moore's Templar is every bit as smooth as Bond, but darker. Based on the character created by Leslie Charteris, Templar answers to no one and has an agenda all his own. After watching a few episodes of The Saint, I found his need to do his own version of good a mystery. The Saint's lack of backstory cripples him to some extent. The Saint is good simply because he steps into an argument. Outside of wanting to avenge a perfect stranger's murder (and possibly to simply satisfy his personal curiosity), Templar is the same man at the beginning of the film as he is at the end.
According to the commentary track, Vendetta for the Saint is made from two television episodes edited into a motion picture. Even though the film is drawn from a greater catalog, it remains self-contained. No one need be a Saint expert to understand the film. With its easy to follow plot, the film stands as a good example of the British spy drama that was in vogue forty years ago. Templar overcomes his enemies with a wink, charm or strong right hook. Everything has a sexualized British flair and doesn't take itself too seriously. While not as tongue-in-cheek as its contemporary The Avengers, The Saint shares the same amount of "Cool Britannia" and accepted arrogance.
Moore shines as Templar. He plays Templar as colder version of how he would play James Bond. Equally strong was Ian Hendry. While his Italian accent occasionally lapses, Hendry retains a steely demeanor throughout the film.
Vendetta for the Saint looks as good as it possibly can, given its age. At almost forty years old, the picture appeared a bit grainy. Considering when it was made, the film sounds very good. MPI didn't seem to do a clean up of any kind, but again, it's passable.
The commentary track by Roger Moore and the film's producers is full of factoids and trivia about the film and the making of the series. Fans of The Saintmight be interested to know that he's contractually forbidden from any permanent changes (which may explain the lack of character growth) and STD's. My only complaint is the lack of the famous theme song. It just doesn't feel like The Saint without it.
For light, fast, vintage entertainment, give Vendetta for The Saint a go.
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