Monday, May 25
"I saw this in a Clint Eastwood movie once" -- Cameron Mitchell realizing his career nadir cometh
Directed by Edward D. Murphy
86 Minutes / Media Entertainment / Cropped from 1.85:1 to full screen
A group of American martial artists shove off to the high seas in search of a graveyard for dishonored kung-fu masters found on Warrior Island; an isolated dot said to be inhabited by monks that can raise the dead by feasting upon the barbecued flesh of hapless young girls. They first stop off in Shanghai to enjoy the local markets, beer, and carnal delights. Two of the guys visit a cathouse that's raided by a slimy jade dealer and his henchmen in cop disguise sending naked whores fleeing out of windows.
Back on the boat, the fighters enjoy a night of alcohol-fueled debauchery with the bar open and beds soft. Quietly the jade dealer's men, this time looking like fat Hell Angel's rejects, sneak abroad and fiery hell breaks loose as the group is forced to fed off the attackers and abandon ship. After days of raft floating, they reach dry land that happens to be the sought-after island, but run afoul of both the jade dealer and monks who see them as unwanted invaders. The dead are commanded to rise and soon it's every brawler for himself.
This is the brand of trash where the sheer frequency of goofball events occurring on-screen is so high catching the character's names and even the story points proves futile as your mind trips all over itself trying to keep up. I'm honestly unsure exactly why the martial artists want to find the island or what scam the jade dealer is trying to pull. There's so many tits, asses, gloriously hamstuffed lines, bloody brawls, giggling monks, and close range bazooka destruction wrought against defenseless trees that those things simply don't matter. I do know a sloppy Cameron Mitchell stumbled on set as the boat's captain and constantly looks a few mere pints away from an alcohol-induced coma. Raw Force also proved a career ender for several of the featured actors, including the second-billed Geoffrey Binney. I sadly missed spotting Camille Keaton (I Spit on your Grave, Tragic Ceremony) as "Girl in Toilet" and she was probably topless too...dammit...
Things aren't all roses, as the chaos and halfhearted action of the final twenty minutes does hamper the nearly out-of-control momentum the film builds. Despite this, there's something undeniably fun about director/writer Murphy's work. It's almost as if he was trying to emulate David Zucker's self-referential genre writing with many little random yet funny lines and sly send-ups of kung-fu, action, and horror flicks. This makes the film a bit of an anomaly in the annals of cult filmmaking, especially being a product of '82. Murphy went on to do some small acting roles and pull triple duty on what appears to be a straight action flick entitled Heated Vengeance two years after Raw Force. So it's tough to say what his exact intent was at this point.
This gem is buried in Video Asia's more easily found Grindhouse Experience DVD set along with nineteen other exploiters and I'd say it's just about worth the twenty buck price tag for the chance to see Raw Force alone.
VHS Picture: 4/10 (you could almost see the carbon shredding off the tape the first half hour)
VHS Sound: 5/10