While on holiday in Bangkok, pretty American tourist Phyllis Leighton (Hansi Linder) is abducted by sex traffickers and imprisoned on a remote island with other captive girls. As luck would have it her mother Maud (Loni Heuser) discovers cranky Captain Tom Rowland (Brad Harris) in Thailand consulting with local criminologists. Maud insists Tom enlist his old pal, womanizing private eye Joe Walker (Tony Kendall) on the case which he duly does. So Joe tears himself away from a sexy blonde in New York to fly to Bangkok, picking up air hostess Kathin Russell (Monica Pardo) as his new squeeze along the way. Unfortunately it turns out Phyllis' abduction is only a ruse devised by the evil Madame Kim So to lure Joe Walker into her clutches for reasons the plot never bothers to explain.
Island of Lost Girls, a.k.a. Kommissar X: Drei Golden Schlangen (Three Golden Dragons, which is the name of the sex trafficking gang), was the penultimate entry in the Kommissar X Eurospy films and among the weakest in the series. Part of that is due to the subject matter. It is tough to laugh along with a jocular spy romp where women are kidnapped, abused and drugged as captive sex slaves. The plot actually retreads familiar ground but with a seedier edge. Capitalizing on the new permissiveness of late Sixties cinema the filmmakers add topless nudity, drug addiction and implied rape but the increased sadism jars with the traditionally bright and breezy tone of a Kommissar X film. While the bad guys are more beastly, Joe and Tom remain the same: still cracking wise, swigging cocktails and smirking through a heaping helping of casual misogyny. Take for example this snippet of wisdom from Mr. Joe Walker: "Love comes and goes like stewardesses. You have to take advantage of it." He's a charmer, isn't he?
By this point the franchise had passed on to lesser hands. Roberto Mauri was as much a genre-hopping hack as any Italian exploitation stalwart. Unlike many of his contemporaries however he rarely brought much panache to his work. Mauri was more comfortable making bogus sequels to spaghetti western hits, e.g. Sartana in the Valley of Death (1970) and Django... Adios! (1972). Some rate his sexploitation-horror film Madeleine: Study of a Nightmare (1974) which has the advantage of the always fetching and watchable Camille Keaton though his outrageous final film The Porno Killers (1980) is more typical of his work. Mauri's rough and ready directing style takes Island of Lost Girls a few notches down from the slicker earlier entries. The film is a free-form mix of hand-held shots, sloppily edited stock footage, crass comedy (laugh yourself silly as Tom gets into a pointless punch-up with a dwarf doorman dubbed with a squeaky voice) and the odd mildly exciting action scene choreographed by star Brad Harris. As for the plot, it is borderline nonsensical. Characters exhibit schizophrenic behaviour but are casually bumped off before the viewer has time to care. Madame Kim So's motivation is especially vague. Something to do with a grudge born against an American lover though how that ties in with Joe Walker is anyone's guess.
Mauri squeezes in some exotic local colour but the film's patronizing, borderline offensive depiction of Thai locals as shifty, money-grubbing or else plain callous (extras stare blankly as Phyllis is snatched off the street) makes for uncomfortable viewing more than forty years down the line. Alas, the Thai supporting cast are pretty awful though this might be due to the language barrier between Mauri and local actors. A scene where Joe is injected with opium and hallucinates an attack by crocodiles gives Tony Kendall a rare chance to flex his acting muscles yet curiously for the most part he gets far less to do than usual. The most widely available prints are so grainy and washed out they look like they were processed in dirty dishwater. Weirdly this gels with the abundance of mud and filth onscreen in this atypical series entry. Indeed the climax has the entire cast wading through mud looking thoroughly uncomfortable and miserable. As a result this is that rare Eurospy movie liable to make viewers feel like they need a hot shower.