Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Raw Force (1982)

Raw Force

USA/Philippines 1982 colour

aka Kung Fu Cannibals, Shogun Island

Director/Writer Edward D. Murphy

Cast Cameron Mitchell (Captain Harry Dodds), Geoffrey Binney (Mike O'Malley), Hope Holiday (Hazel Buck), Jillian “Kessner”/Kesner (Cookie Winchell), John Dresden (John Taylor), Jennifer Holmes (Ann Davis), Rey King (Go Chin), Carla Reynolds (Eilleen Fox), Carl Anthony (Lloyd Davis), John Locke (Gary Schwartz), Mark Tanous (Cooper), Ralph Lombardi (Thomas Speer), Chanda Romero (Mayloo), Vic Diaz (monk), Mike Cohen

When your writer AND director is the old boy who played the Captain in The Mad Doctor of Blood Island, you may take this as an SOS call.

But fear not – Raw Force is out of its mind. In a good way, of course, but is also foaming at the mouth and howling at the moon. Imagine a film shot by Americans in the Philippines exploiting every possible angle: cannibals, zombies, samurais, white kung fu (this WAS 1982, and Chuck Norris reigned supreme!), gumby comedy, and more flesh on display than a Friday night karaoke crawl in Manila.

Executive Producer Larry Woolner used to be a mover and shaker at Dimension Pictures, who handled a few Filipino features for the Seventies drive-in circuit; Raw Force was his last hurrah, and has that weird tension between old-fashioned entertainment and what he believes the kids want to see. As such, there’s old has-beens hobbling next to young never-wills. It’s Porky’s with Sidney Greenstreet and David Carradine, and none of it meshes. But with a mess this entertaining, thank god for senile dementia.

Aging name actor Cameron Mitchell stars as the skipper of a rusty tub bound for the South China Sea and Hope Holliday is Hazel Buck, the boat’s New York jewish owner. On board are the Burbank Karate Club (actually a few no-name TV actors), plus blonde black belt champion Jillian Kessner, who had already played the lead in Cirio H. Santiago’s Firecracker (1981). It’s a motley crew on a crusty Love Boat stocked with degenerates, schmiels, and the brown end of California’s swingers circles.

Onto the ship comes Speer, a nasty German with a Hitler mustache looking for white women to steal, and his karate-kicking cronies. The ship goes up in flames, and the remaining cast and crew are adrift in a life boat before washing up on Warrior’s Island. There they discover Speer has been trading jade for his plane load of tasty-looking nubiles - Warriors Island happens to be the home of a renegade group of grinning, clapping cannibal monks who can reanimate the corpses of disgraced martial artists to do their bidding. The girls… well, they happen to be the monks’ main course.

And that’s the set up for one of the strangest kung fu horror sex comedies you will ever witness. Keen-eyed Schlock viewers will recognize the chubby features of the ubiquitous Vic Diaz as one of the head monks, alongside Mike Cohen who Weng Weng fans will recognize as Dr Kohler in For Your Height Only. All I can say right now is slip the brain into neutral and enjoy, and if you ever needed proof that the Philippines exists in a parallel universe in which our laws of taste, logic and sanity are turned on their heads, it’s this: the 1982 Raw Force. (Andrew Leavold)

No comments: