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The Weirdest James Bond Knockoffs Around The World

Like Sherlock Holmes, Darth Vader, and Pikachu, James Bond has transcended his status as a fictional character in movies and novels and become an icon — not in the "very famous" sense, but as a symbol of roguish adventure and old-school suavity. As his on-screen and on-the-page adventures continue into the 21st century, Bond has, like many globally identifiable characters, influenced many other films and television shows. We wouldn't have the UK Avengers TV series, the Jason Bourne films, Atomic Blonde, and some of Jackie Chan's best Hong Kong efforts without Bond, as well as imitators all hoping to capture the same lightning in a bottle preserved by Ian Fleming's novels and the long-running film franchise. The Bond-alikes started almost immediately after the success of the first few Bond pictures, ranging from TV shows like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and the hilarious spoof Get Smart to movies such as the sly parody In Like Flint and dozens upon dozens of European and Asian carbons like Secret Agent Fireball or the long-running Tony Falcon series from the Philippines.

The world of movie imitations is a bit like deep-sea diving: the flora and fauna get exponentially weirder as you descend further into the deep. What results is Bond filtered through culture and custom and filmmakers' eccentricities, resulting in some very unusual 007s. Following is a list of some truly bizarre Bonds from all points on the globe, some of which may leave you both shaken and stirred.

And spoilers may follow.

Meet the Danish anti-Bond in Strike First, Freddy

From Denmark (with love) comes the 1965 comedy Strike First, Freddy, which hinges on the well-worn trope of the innocuous lead who's mistaken for a daring hero (see everything from North by Northwest to The Man Who Knew Too Little). Here, it's novelty salesman and amiable dope Frede Hansen (Morten Grunwald), who is recruited by secret agent Smith (Ove Sprogøe) to impersonate a top spy and infiltrate the island fortress of criminal mastermind Dr. Pax (Martin Hansen), who plans to overthrow world powers with missile-carrying pigeons (!) and his homicidal henchman (Poul Bundgaard). 

A breezy mix of action and goofy humor, Freddy –- which was released in the United States as Operation Lovebirds -– was followed by a 1966 sequel, Slap af Frede! (Relax, Freddy!), which pitted Grunwald and Sprogøe against a new megalomaniac, the mother-dominated Presto (Erik Mørk), and a gaggle of broadly stereotypical Italian mobsters and Chinese diplomats. Both films were directed by Erik Balling, who also oversaw the Olsen Gang movies, a popular comedy series about an inept criminal crew led by Sprogøe, Grunwald, and Bundgaard.

Bond + Batman = bananas in James Batman

Two '60s pop culture icons join forces –- sort of –- in James Batman, a Filipino comedy from 1966 that pairs Bond with Batman at the height of popularity for the latter's Stateside live-action TV series. Comic actor Dolphy (Rodolfo Vera Quizon) –- a beloved performer in films and on radio and television from the 1950s until his death in 2012 –- plays both roles in the film, which pits the pair against CLAW, a veritable Legion of Doom that partners Filipino versions of the Joker, Penguin, and what appears to be Black Rose, a popular lady thief character in a series of Hong Kong films. 

Dolphy's Bond and Batman are played for broad laughs –- his 007 is a dolt in a bad suit, and the Dark Knight is a slob with an antagonistic relationship to Robin (Boy Alano) -– and the production value is threadbare (at best), but these shortcomings are smoothed over by a non-stop barrage of fights, shoot-outs, and pratfalls that dominates the second half of the movie. In addition to playing Bond in James Batman, Dolphy also played a slew of other hapless spies, including Agent 1-2-3, in more than a dozen (!) espionage spoofs between 1965 and 1966.

Vengos Visible Agent 007: the bald Bond

As James Batman proves, Bond's heroics and irresistible magnetism made him a favorite target for comics, especially those whose physical qualities or comedy persona were the exact opposite of the super spy. A host of screen schlubs on both sides of the Atlantic have suited up to play half-baked 007s, including Rowan Atkinson (Johnny English), Leslie Nielsen (Spy Hard), and of course, Mike Myers' Austin Powers. Thanassis Vengos –- a popular comic actor in more than 100 films in his native Greece — folded his trademark everyman character into a spy format with 1967's Help! It's Vengos Visible Agent 000

Here, Vengos is Secret Agent-in-Training Thou-Vou, who's charged with completing three missions in order to graduate from espionage school. Needless to say, Tho-Vou bungles all of them in the silliest possible ways –- his attempt to retrieve a document baked into a dessert leads to a pie fight — but graduates all the same, which earns him the code number 000. Tho-Vou returned for more ridiculous hijinks in 1969's awesomely titled The Baldheaded Agent and the Land of Destruction Mission.

The name is Bond...Mat Bond?

An endearing kitchen-sink aesthetic is among the many low-fi virtues of Mat Bond, a 1967 Malaysian spy spoof starring comic actor Mat Sentol. A good-natured if totally hapless naif who hides from his domineering mother in a threadbare man cave decked out in 007 ephemera — or "Oh Oh 7," according to a hand-painted wall scrawl — Mat makes his super-spy dreams come true with the accidental discovery of pills that make him invincible (after causing him to steam like a kettle). 

This does not sit well with a international crime organization — represented by an array of broad stereotypes, including a Native American named Sitting Cow — but Mat has a secret weapon: an umbrella. Sure, it repels (and fires) bullets, and serves as a parachute, but it's an umbrella all the same. That sort of backyard movie vibe — an appropriate term, given that the film appears to have been shot in backyards, houses, and buildings in and around Singapore –- lends the broad gags in Mat Bond an appealing sense of surreal absurdity. Mat Bond may also be the only Bond carbon to spoof another spy spoof: the film's opening credits offer a long, lo-fi riff on the main and end titles for Get Smart.

OK Connery -- don't ever star in another movie

If you're an old-school Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan, chances are you've endured OK Connery. Joel and the 'bots lambasted the 1967 Italian spy spoof –- also known as Operation Kid Brother and Operation Double 007 –- while focusing much of their riffing on its star, Neil Connery. Sean Connery's real-life younger brother plays himself, albeit as a world-famous cosmetic surgeon with hypnotic powers (in real life, he was a plasterer). 

Director Alberto De Martino taps a number of actors associated with the Bond franchise to fill out the cast, including Adolfo Celi from Thunderball and Lois Maxwell (Miss Moneypenny). But all the guest players, exotic locations, and an absolutely full-throttle theme song by Ennio Morricone, Bruno Nicolai, and vocalist Christy can't make up for the fact that Neil is a leaden presence who looks alternately aggravated or shell-shocked throughout the picture. Though Operation Kid Brother should have kept Neil Connery off screen for good, he actually appeared in two more films, including a Bond-esque cameo in Tsui Hark's action comedy Aces Go Places 3, which also featured Bond vet Richard Kiel from The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker.

The Bond Girls rule in James Bond 777

Actor Krishna Ghattamaneni, a superstar of India's Telugu-language cinema (or Tollywood), plays the title role in the energetic and eccentric 1971 feature James Bond 777. But James Bond isn't his character's name (it's Kishore); rather, it's a code name he uses while carrying out intelligence missions, which seems counterintuitive -– calling yourself James Bond all but screams out "I'm a spy" –- yet certainly sounds cool.

Kishore's mission is to bring down the Boss (Satyanarayana Kaikala), a suave heel who also happens to be the fiend that killed Kishore's parents! Aiding 777 is female cop Sopa (Vijayalalitha), whose own father was also knocked off by the Boss; though she does have to wear the most outrageous dance outfit ever while undercover, Sopa is arguably Kishore's equal in the tough-but-cool department. She's well matched by Jyothi Laxmi as both the Boss's henchwoman, Jamilla, and her identical twin, who not only have a musical number together, but fight each other in a knock-down, drag-out brawl! The music by Chellapilla Satyam is also an absolute plus, most notably the brass-and-twang-heavy theme song and a frantic number between Krishna and four seemingly super-caffeinated female singer/dancers.

Four Bonds are not better than one in From Hong Kong with Love

The 1975 French spoof From Hong Kong with Love dispatches with James Bond in its opening moments — he's shot during the gun barrel sequence — prompting M16 chief M (Bernard Lee, reprising his role from the Bond films) to call on French intelligence to rescue a kidnapped Queen Elizabeth II. Answering the call is Les Charlots (the Crazy Boys or Clowns), a quartet of popular French comic singers cast here as the worst agents in France. Their investigation leads them to not only Hong Kong but, of all people, Mickey Rooney as a wealthy American with a crush on the Queen. 

One of the most popular in a string of silly '70s-era comedies featuring Les Charlots, From Hong Kong with Love balances the relentless mugging by Les Charlots and Rooney with some impressive stunt sequences orchestrated by director Yvan Chiffre, a veteran stuntman whose credits include Thunderball and many European action films inspired by the Bond franchise. Blink and you'll miss cameos by Bond alumni Lois Maxwell (Miss Moneypenny) and Clifton James (Sheriff J.W. Pepper from Live and Let Die), as well as Yuen Sui-tien/Simon Yuen, the "Ol' Dirty" martial arts master in several early Jackie Chan films.

Bond meets Bruce in Hell in The Dragon Lives Again

James Bond is just one of the pop culture characters that "Bruce Lee" meets in Hell in the hallucinatory Hong Kong action-fantasy The Dragon Lives Again. The 1977 film –- also known as Deadly Hands of Kung Fu – stars Bruce Leung/Liang, one of the better actors who played Lee (or his clone or double) in a series of low-budget martial arts films referred to as "Brucesploitaion" that were released in the wake of the star's death in 1973. 

In director Chi Lo's film, the faux Bruce arrives in the underworld and is informed by its King (Shaw Brothers player Tang Ching) that he must battle a series of fighters in order to return to Earth. Said brawlers include the Man With No Name, Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman, Dracula, and James Bond! All are played by Asian actors with tongues firmly planted in cheek save for Bond, who's essayed by Alexander Grand, a Caucasian bit player in several Shaw Brothers films whose best quality as Bond is that he looks okay in a tux. Thankfully, Bruce doesn't have to fight all these superstars alone: he's aided by Caine from the Kung Fu series and Popeye(!), played with spinach-swilling gusto by Eric Tsang.

James Band 007

James Band 007 – also known as James Band 007 The Real Thai Pepper – may be a ridiculous 1980 comedy about a toothless pedicab driver who impersonates James Bond, but it is also the only movie, Thai or otherwise, to also feature evil lookalikes of C-3P0 and R2D2. As TasTarkas.net notes, Thep Tienchai, a Thai comic who parlayed his unusual looks (read: fistlike face and missing upper plate) into his act, plays James Band, who picks up James Bond (from the bus station), only to see his celebrated passenger assassinated by a sniper's bullet.

Despite looking nothing like Bond, Band is tapped by the movie's version of M to infiltrate the lair of a super-villain (comic Lor Tok) making unspecified threats to world powers. The aforementioned fake droids are part of the villain's entourage, but really seem to be more liabilities than henchmen, given their penchant for smashing supercomputers during their ceaseless arguing. James Band, for all his admirable intentions to thwart a global threat, seems to spend much of his screen time being beat up by Lor Tok's human sidekicks and taking pratfalls. At least his heart is in the right place.

Meet Agent 00 in For Your Height Only

So far, we've seen Danish Bonds, toothless Bonds, supernatural Bonds, and a bald Bond. And with the 1981 Filipino comedy For Your Height Only (also known as For Y'ur Height Only), we are introduced to Agent 00, who might be considered the first Little Person Bond. As played by 2'9" cult favorite Weng Weng –- real name Ernesto de la Cruz –- Agent 00 makes up for his relative lack of stature with some impressive martial arts skills, an array of cool gadgets (jet pack, bladed hat a la Oddjob), and boundless charm, especially with the ladies. The plot of For Your Height Only is an afterthought –- Agent 00 must rescue a scientist from the diabolical Mr. Giant — and the film's chief pleasure is watching Weng Weng navigate obstacles that would thwart most average-sized people with determination (and some off-screen helpers). 

A bona fide celebrity and an apparent favorite of former Filipino First Lady Imelda Marcos, Weng Weng was a staple of comedies (including several opposite Dolphy from James Batman!) and reprised Agent 00 in at least two other films before his death in 1992 at the age of 34. His unusual life and career were the subject of a 2013 documentary, The Search for Weng Weng, by Australian film historian Andrew Leavold.

The Finnish James Bond and the deadly jokes

A Finnish take on the Bond-as-idiot trope, 1983's Agenti 000 ja kueleman kurvit (Agent 000 and the Deadly Curves) hinges on a world domination plot that would have undoubtedly rattled Nordic audiences' storied reserve: the masked villain X wields a mind control device that makes its victims lose control through public drunkenness, nudity, and other public embarrassments. Enter Agent 000, Joonas G. Breitenfeldt (comic Ilmari Saarelainen), whose ineptitude is only matched by his extreme over-confidence. 

What follows is a barrage of hit-and-miss visual gags, broken by a modest car crash setpiece and swing-for-the-fences performances by Saarelainen and fellow Finnish comic Tenho Sauren as a small time crook unlucky enough to cross Breitenfeldt's path on several occasions. Many sources list British actor John Wood of WarGames fame as the actor playing Agent 009 –- a sort of Bond stand-in — but as this Finnish source notes, it's actually a stuntman named John Wood who reportedly worked on the real Bond films.

Les Patterson Saves the World - but who will save us from Les?

Australian comic and actor Barry Humphries — the man behind Dame Edna Everage's wig and glasses and the Great Goblin in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – brought his other stage and TV alter ego, Sir Leslie Patterson, to feature films in the 1987 Australian comedy Les Patterson Saves the World. In the film, Patterson — a grotesque man of privilege with something offensive to say on just about any subject — is somehow selected to serve as Australian diplomat to a fictitious Middle Eastern country (he's recommended by U.S. President Joan Rivers after decimating a UN attendee with an ill-timed bout of gas), and there discovers a plot by terrorists to unleash a biochemical weapon.

Patterson takes it upon himself to play Bond and foil the scheme, but after 90 minutes of his repulsive behavior, ceaseless jokes about bodily functions, and disgusting special effects (most notably, how the gas affects its victims), you might be wishing for access to that bio-weapon for yourself. A notorious disaster for all involved, Les Patterson Saves the World is frequently cited among the world's worst movies — an honor that would probably please Sir Les.