Spiderman and the Dragons Challenge (1980) poster

Spiderman and the Dragon’s Challenge (1980)

Rating:

USA. 1980.

Crew

Director – Don McDougall, Screenplay/Producer – Lionel E. Siegel, Photography – Vince Martinelli, Music – Dana Kaproff, Special Effects – William Schirmer, Art Direction – Julian Sachs. Production Company – Danchuk Productions.

Cast

Nicholas Hammond (Peter Parker/Spiderman), Rosalind Chao (Emily), Benson Fong (Min Lo Chan), Robert F. Simon (J. Jonah Jameson), Ellen Bry (Julie)


Plot

Min Lo Chan, a diplomat from Hong Kong, comes to the US seeking help from his old friend J. Jonah Jameson in clearing his name from murder charges wrongfully laid against him during World War II. He needs to find the three former Marines who can corroborate his side of the story. Peter Parker becomes involved when thugs hired by a crooked Hong Kong contractor try to ensure he does not succeed, something that requires Spiderman to accompany Min Lo back to Hong Kong.


Spiderman and the Dragon’s Challenge was the third of the films recut for international cinematic release from the tv series The Amazing Spiderman (1977-9). The other two features were Spider-Man/The Amazing Spiderman (1977) and Spider-Man Strikes Back (1979). Spiderman and the Dragon’s Challenge was recut from the two-part episode The Chinese Web (1979).

Spider-Man (Nicholas Hammond) in Hong Kong in Spiderman and the Dragons Challenge (1980)
Spider-Man (Nicholas Hammond) in Hong Kong

Like the entire The Amazing Spiderman tv series, Spiderman and the Dragon’s Challenge is stultifyingly dull. It is so drably directed and photographed, the effect is akin to watching a series of out-of-focus home-movies. The action is accompanied by a frequently laughably inappropriate disco score. Nicholas Hammond plays with an overblown vacuousness but it is a sad state when the villains are even more boring than he is. In fact, the story is so tedious that Spiderman could be entirely incidental to it – the utterly routine adventure could have been filled by any tv hero of the era from Kojak to Columbo – a sad comedown from the colourful superheroics that filled the comic-book.

Spiderman was later far more successfully incarnated on the big screen with Spider-Man (2002), Spider-Man 2 (2004), Spider-Man 3 (2007), The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) and the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018), plus makes appearances in the MCU in Captain America: Civil War (2016) and Avengers: Infinity War (2018).



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