They call him Mr Shatter (Stuart Whitman), a man who gets the job done professionally and efficiently. That job being assassination, and he has just taken care of an African dictator by surprising him in bed with his mistress and executing him with his gun hidden in a camera which handily takes a snap of the crime scene as evidence for those who hired him. However, there are signs that all may not be well as Shatter flies into Hong Kong to collect his reward: getting shot at on the way to the hotel being an unsubtle hint...
By the time Hammer studios were winding down, they went off in odd directions in the choice of their projects, all in an increasingly blatant and indeed desperate way of capturing the audiences who would previously have lapped up their productions, but were now regarding them as somewhat low rent and old hat. Shatter was their second collaboration with the Hong Kong Shaw Brothers after Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, apparently reasoning that martial arts movies were big business so why shouldn't the Brits get in on the act as well? The answer to that was on the strength of this the Orient did them far better when left to their own devices.
Not helping this was director Monte Hellman, after shooting a good chunk of the action, getting sacked when the problems began to dominate, one of them being the obviously haggard Whitman's poor health which extended the schedule far past its budget. Hammer's head honcho Michael Carreras took over the reins and credited himself as sole director (that's all the thanks you get, Hellman!) and the film was finally completed and released to general indifference, being not one thing - a James Bond-esque espionage thriller - or the other - a full on kung fu extravaganza. That was in spite of them hiring rising star Ti Lung as Shatter's sidekick, taking the lion's share of the fight scenes.
Whitman tended to rely on his bullets in those parts, and even gets soundly beaten in one scene when he tries to combat a trio of local thugs who are more experienced in hand to hand than he is, not something you'd expect to see in a Bond movie. This was also the cue for the guest star, Peter Cushing appearing briefly as a security representative in what was his last ever Hammer movie, a sad day although he did show up for one memorable episode of The Hammer House of Horror later on television. Also showing up was Anton Diffring as the bad guy (well, what else?), another Hammer favourite if boasting fewer jobs for the company, and carrying on with his usual, welcome iciness.
The main issue you'd likely have with this was that while Whitman was the ostensible star, it was Ti Lung who made the most of the movie, fine, he struggled a little with the English-language dialogue, but he wasn't hired to make speeches and what he did with his fists and feet was as impressive. It's just that you had to wait for the second half of the story for his Tai Pah character to come into his own, and it was a long wait as Shatter descends into the er, shitter with his clients refusing to pay and the government out to send him back to the African state he fled from to face justice for the assassination. If he wasn't supposed to be such a tough guy, he'd be more of a hapless stooge, less leading hardman and closer to a straight role for Norman Wisdom should he have cared to branch out into international thrillers. Lily Li was the love interest, but what happens to her suggests a less than progressive attitude to mixed race relationships was present, leaving you with a serviceable but bog standard co-production. Music by David Lindup, groovy theme tune and all.
"Existential" is a word often used to describe the films of this American director, who after working for Roger Corman on Beast from Haunted Cave, Back Door to Hell and The Terror directed two cult westerns, The Shooting and Ride in the Whirlwind. In the 1970s he continued his cult acclaim with Two Lane Blacktop, Cockfighter and China 9 Liberty 37, but come the 80s the directing work dried up, with only Iguana and Silent Night, Deadly Night 3 to his name. He also worked behind the scenes on The Wild Angels, Robocop and Reservoir Dogs, among others.