Thursday, March 20, 2008

Raw Force (1982)

* PT: John Taylor. Wadpaw: To kick a whole mess of ass and keep his party from suffering casualties.

* The title makes Raw Force sound like just another red-meat '80s action flick. But here's what you get in the first five minutes alone: A German guy with a Hitler 'stache and bad combover. A bunch of naked chicks in a bamboo cage. A group of evil Filipino monks in medieval garb who laugh a lot. Gratuitous bush shots. Zombie samurai. I'll repeat that last one: ZOMBIE FUCKING SAMURAI. Does the rest of the film live up to this insane moodsetter? Oh yeah you betcha.

* Calms down a bit after the opening to introduce its characters (who might as well be interchangeable) and provide us with a soupcon of exposition via wonderfully awful dialogue. (Best line, bar none: "Go ahead, Cookie -- you don't have to tell him you're a member of the L.A. SWAT team." Which, besides being hilariously awkward, means that there's a SWAT cop named Cookie.) Once those pleasantries are handled, Raw Force settles into a comfortable groove where there is either asskicking or tits on screen at all times. Occasionally the film will find a way to get both in a once, as in the scene where two guys duke it out in a ship's cabin while a chick who's on the run after killing her Mafia boyfriend is tied to a bed naked and ass up. (It's even better if you reflect on the fact that the chick was tied up by the bad guy after attempting to beat him over the head with an empty gas can.) If only every B-movie brought the goods like this one.

* Three of the main characters identify themselves at the start as members of the Burbank Karate Club. I'll bet that's a real thriving organization there.

* At one point, director Edward D. Murphy splices in footage from Joe Dante's Piranha. I wouldn't dream of revealing the gut-busting circumstances under which that footage appears -- it's really just something you should experience for yourself.

* Obviously filmed on the cheap using actors who didn't really know much kung fu (aside from Rey King, channeling his inner Bruce Le); somehow, this just makes it more endearing as it blows past its own limitations to provide all sorts of trashy entertainment. It may be crap, but it's fast, loose and incredibly silly crap, unashamed of its own crapitude and dedicated to bringing the drive-in delight. I kinda think I love this movie.

* I wonder how drunk Cameron Mitchell was during the production. A whole lotta buncha drunk, I'd bet.

* The whole movie in a nutshell: The first major fight scene is set in a strip bar, and in between fisticuffs, Murphy will periodically cut to a glassy-eyed stripper half-heartedly shaking her tits and seemingly unaware of the chaos around her. It's so blinkered yet so unabashedly open about its desire to titillate its audience's every possible desire all at the same time that I can't help but be impressed. I really think I love this movie.

* Film fades out on a "To Be Continued" title card; sadly, that continuation never arrived. Damn.

Grade: B


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