Raw Force (1982)
By: Mr Intolerance on September 11, 2008  |  Comments ()  |  Bookmark and Share
Analog Man can not live on DVD and Blu-ray alone. In this ongoing column we blow the dust off our VCR's and travel back to an ancient time where VHS tapes ruled the earth. Our mission? To re-discover those forgotten gems that are yet to receive the digitally enhanced 7.1 channel surround sound treatment...

Director: Edward Murphy
Starring: Cameron Mitchell, Geoff Binney, Jillian Kessner, John Dresden, Jennifer Holmes, Hope Holiday
Writer: Edward Murphy
Country: USA
In the Australian geek-homage film Taber Corn, Raw Force was referred to as the "everything movie" – a movie so brilliant, it contained all of the wonderfulness of exploitation goodness: cannibal monks, kung-fu zombies, piranha attacks and, ahem, boobs – and what's more, boobs for no readily apparent reason – just because we can. And sacrificed prostitutes, and hapless tourists who don't know what the fuck's going on, but who all happen to be kung-fu champions. And a bunch of stolen jade. Oh yeah, and lots of martial arts goodness, gunfire and explosions. And Camille (I Spit On Your Grave) Keaton, in a blink and you'll miss her role (she's credited as 'Girl in Toilet'). Nice.

Raw Force definitely deserves a good DVD release; I'm reviewing the rather battered VHS copy I picked up for two bucks at a Video Ezy sale back in the late 80s (the cover art is pure brilliance, luridly emblazoned with my all-time favourite tag-line: "One blow! The Deathblow!"), and while it is available as part of Fortune Video's Grindhouse Experience 20 Film Collection, they have merely ported an old videotape copy. Things transferred from the original negative do not have picture roll. There is definitely a market for this kind of sleaze and cheese out there; someone (Blue Underground, are you listening?) needs to resuscitate this bad boy for the masses. The only disappointment this film has to offer is the fact that at its end it promises "To Be Continued…" and it never was. That sucks – the world needs more movies like this.

Regardless, this film is fantastic stuff: We initially see a bunch of nekkid south east Asian hookers being taken to the cannibal monks (who keep reminding me for some strange reason of the Templars from d'Ossorio's Blind Dead series, despite having no physical resemblance to them apart from their shabby hoods and cowls) in exchange for great big fuck off baskets of jade in the opening scenes, then we segue to our heroes (no, not the zombies, our other heroes) trying to have a good time on a rather shabby cruise boat a la Shock Waves meets The Love Boat, but in the South Seas.

Taylor, Schwartz and O'Malley are three US martial arts masters who've decided to go on a tour to Warrior's Island, a place avoided by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II, but they're lured by the island's mystique, its martial arts history, and, of course, the monks who can raise the dead spirits of the disgraced martial arts warriors whose bodies were interred on the island. Of course we do find out that other members of the cruise are equally adept in the martial arts (such as Chin, the Chinese cook, and Cookie, the blonde bombshell who just happens to be a member of the L.A. S.W.A.T. team – don't you just love this kind of plot device?), which is kind of tipping your hat a bit early, but then again, this film is hardly Citizen Kane…and thank fucking God for it!

So our gang enjoy a bit of shore leave before heading for Warrior's Island, and it's the predictable stereotype of south-east Asia: kick-boxing tournaments, cheap shopping and equally cheap knocking shops. It's in the last of these we find trouble, when the Hitler-moustached villain Speer (Chinese, but with an appalling German accent) decides to raid the brothel for booty for the monks. This would appear to be a grand idea, (disguising the vans with Police identification), but instead we get a bit of a brawl…

As a matter of fact, there is a wonderful mix of brawling and boobs – ahhh, fighting and nudity, could there be a better conjoining (I suppose we could have seen some Foxy-Boxing or Jelly Wrestling, but I'm not complaining)? The strip club our boys wander into after the brothel isn't the safe haven they expect it to be, and it's time to leave town, post haste. But the kung-fu action that we get as they try to leave is pretty special. Good violent fun for one and all – Chin's kung-fu chaos is especially worthy of note; good, good stuff, 70s chop-socky style, albeit a little low-rent.

So the boat pulls out of dock the next morning, and the bad guys have nefarious designs upon it, and as a long boozy party begins on the cruise, you can see our heroes are going to be behind the 8-ball. Y'know, it's only at this point of the film where I realised one of our heroes looked like Geezer Butler from Black Sabbath circa 1973. This is not a good look for a hero, especially the moustache.

Our couples begin pairing off and hooking up (suicide in a horror film, as we all know – sex=deathmark), but then the bad guys assault the cruise ship, and our heroes are forced to take refuge on Warrior's Island, and the zombie/kung-fu/gunfire carnage begins. And you know that it is good, and that all is well with the universe. Or at least that's how I see it. But then, I hope you do too.

Boobs, blood and great martial arts scenes, Raw Force is genuine exploitation brilliance from beginning to end. The acting and the dialogue are so bad it hurts, and yet there's a tongue-in-cheek knowingness about it that you'll appreciate. Laughable in the extreme, yet with some enormous amounts of chutzpah and early 80s charm, you can't help but salute Raw Force. Seriously, if you can't dig this, you have severe mental and emotional problems. Big dumb fun which will have you rolling around on your sofa in hysterics – let Raw Force into your lives. You will become a better person.
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