Director: Franklin Adreon
Kino Lorber Studio Classics

From 1966, the peak of secret agent and spy thriller movies comes DIMENSION 5, released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber Studio Classics

Justin Powers (Jeffrey Hunter, KING OF KINGS, THE LONGEST DAY) and his Asian femme fatale sidekick, Kitty (France Nuyen, BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES), work together to prevent the destruction of Los Angeles by an atomic bomb engineered by “Big Buddha” (Henry Tanaka, GOLDFINGER). Powers is employed by Espionage, Inc., a covert operation in the top floor of a L.A. office building. He is tricked out with the usual spy accessories, but he also possesses a high-tech belt that allows him to travel through time, forward or backward. Powers uses it to escape bad guys, and to travel back in time a few minutes to prevent an assassination. With such a powerful device it is amazing that Espionage, Inc uses it so sparingly. Why not go back in time and prevent Big Buddha from concocting his plan in the first place?

DIMENSION 5 was produced by United Pictures Corporation, which was known for crafting low-budget TV-movies for the major networks and broadcast syndication. However, this film was also released theatrically. In 1966, the spy genre was saturated with the James Bond movies, television programs such as “The Avengers,” “Get Smart,” “Danger Man/Secret Agent Man,” “The Prisoner,” and various other “secret agent” films from all over the world. This film didn’t get a lot of exposure or good reviews, as most critics wrote that Jeffrey Hunter looked “bored,” (Nuyen, on the other hand, was praised for her performance). For being a “secret agent” film, it is extremely low on action and high in dialogue.

Jeffrey Hunter was in the middle of his movie career when this role opened up. He is best remembered as Captain Christopher Pike in the unaired first pilot of “Star Trek: The Cage.” He declined to star in the second pilot, as he had roles waiting for him in motion pictures. However, rumor has it that his wife at the time, Barbra Rush (IT CAME FROM OUT SPACE, MOON OF THE WOLF), persuaded Hunter not to take the second “Star Trek” pilot offer because, as she put it, he was not a television actor, he was a movie star! Tragically, Hunter died at the age of 41 after taking a fall in his California home.

France Nuyen appeared in a handful of movies but will also be remembered as the main character in the original Star Trek episode, “Elaan of Troyius.” She was a French-Vietnamese actor whose big break came in 1955, when she was spotted on a beach by Life photographer Phillipe Halsman, and appeared on the November 6, 1958 cover of the magazine. She appeared in the 1958 Broadway version of “The World of Suzie Wong” opposite another Star Trek alum, William Shatner, but was replaced in the film version by Nancy Kwan. One of her last roles was on “St. Elsewhere” as Dr. Paulette Kiem.

As “Big Buddha,” Henry Tanaka only appears in the film for a few scenes, and tools his way around in a powered wheelchair. His claim to fame was playing the assassin with the deadly bowler hat, “Odd Job” in the James Bond film, “Goldfinger.” After Bond beats Goldfinger at a round of golf, Odd Job crushes a golf ball into dust. Legend has it that Sean Connery complained to director Guy Hamilton that no one could actually do that. Hamilton quipped back, “The point is, Sean, that he can do that.” “Goldfinger” put Connery and Tanaka on the map as international superstars.

The Blu-ray disc was re-mastered from a 4K scan from the Paramount Pictures Archives and is probably the best representation this film will ever receive. Video and audio are stark and crisp, and you get to see a cultural and historic view of 1966 Los Angeles, which is now long gone. DIMENSION 5 is photographed by Alan Stensvold, (THUNDER ROAD) who makes the best of what he has to work with. The opening sequence of Powers escaping Carlsbad Caverns via helicopter, then boarding a jet, and again taking another helicopter to Espionage Inc.’s headquarters, is the most dynamic scene in the film, while the rest of the movie was filmed on very small, claustrophobic sets.

There is a commentary track with Gideon Kennedy, Matt Owensby and John Robinson, all associated with Videodrome, the only video store left standing in the state of Georgia. The trio offers good information about the stars of the film, but they are extremely critical of the plot, the script, and production values. It’s almost as if they are auditioning to be the next hosts of Mystery Science Theater 3000. But they do offer insights into how the film was made on a very low budget. For example, one single corridor is used over and over to convey a long walk through the office, and a single elevator is re-dressed to appear as several elevators, and a local hospital waiting area is re-dressed into an airport concourse. It’s a tutorial on how to create a film on literally no money. The film unfortunately showcases the appalling treatment of women in this particular genre. Examples include Powers slugging a girl in his car, the obvious depiction of Kitty in nothing more than a red short-skirted sweater and the three gorgeous gals who work in the “control room” for Espionage, Inc. so the men can ogle them.

Kino Lorber Studio Classics presents DIMENSION 5 in 1.85:1) and 1920x1080. It is not rated, but should be a PG-13. The English audio is presented in a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 channel track. The disc also features a trailer gallery of other Kino Lorber releases. Despite the great video and audio quality of this Blu-ray, subtitles are not included. DIMENSION 5 is a must-have for Jeffrey Hunter fans and those hard-core followers of the secret agent film genre. (Jim Flack)