Raw Force (1982) Review

Some films are so bad they are good. The story sucks, the acting is idiotic, the special effects are terrible yet somehow all together it becomes amazing. A perfect example is Troll 2 possibly one of the worst films ever made yet also one of the most enjoyable or Night of the Lepus a horror about mutated killer rabbits that will have you screaming with laughter rather than fear.

The sad thing is that these days there is a whole industry based around making films that are deliberately bad with purposefully preposterous plots and knowing nods to their own inadequacies. These mass produced movies with calculatedly terrible titles like Sharktopus vs. Whalewolf or Nazis at the Center of the Earth cash in on their negativity, making mockbusters that are criticism proof as all their bad qualities are intentional.

Although these films do have an audience for me their disingenuous dodgyness and tongue in cheek contrivances rob them of their charm and character as the feeling of being manipulated overrules any real enjoyment. Luckily there are still a whole host of terrible movies out their lost in the video shop bargain bins of time waiting to be rediscovered and laughed at and Raw Force is one of those films.

Also known as Kung Fu Cannibals this 1982 Filipino-American collaboration features a heady blend of horror, martial arts, comedy and exploitation all written and directed by Edward D. Murphy a man whose credits include Goodfellas and Three Men and a Baby where he played Liquor Cop #1 and a Security Guard.

Packed with sleaze and stupidity from the start, we meet the main villain Thomas Speer (Ralph Lombardi) a mini moustache wearing German slave trader whose army of aggressive hippies have been taking girls to the mysterious Warrior’s Island and trading them for jade with the local monks.

These poor innocent ladies end up on the barbecue so the insane zealots can unleash their mystical powers of resurrection on the disgraced martial arts masters who are buried on the island to create ass kicking zombies for their entertainment.

As these weird and wacky events unfold the members of the Burbank Kung Fu Club board a broken down cruise ship charting a course across the South China sea alongside an assortment of oddballs. When the buffed up boys cross the gang of human traffickers on a stop off, they make some powerful enemies who become incensed and head out to sea for revenge.

Soon fists are flying and fire is raging and the passengers are forced to abandon ship. Stranded and desperate to survive the unfortunate Americans finally find land however they end up trapped on the ill fated isle where the undead warriors are waiting to fight and feast.

Raw Force introduces us to a cacophony of crazy characters from bad tempered Captain Harry Dodds (Cameron Mitchell) to wacky penny pinching boat owner Hazel Buck (Hope Holiday) to chef and master fighter Go Chin (Rey Malonzo) to the trio of masculine perfection who make up the boys from the Burbank Kung Fu Club.

Packed with nudity, bawdy humour and sexy situations, Raw Force partially saves itself by featuring Cookie Winchell (Jillian Kesner) an LA cop who more than holds her own against the muscle head martial arts men all around her.

That said the sexism and homophobia does date the movie perhaps more than its soundtrack and wardrobe the latter being a source of constant amusement especially in the gaudy get up of the kidnapping gang that somewhat nullifies their nastiness. Messily meshing together gory horror and chop-socky action with a slimy barrel of sleaze Raw Force does its best to balance each factor in hopes of exciting its audience whatever they are into.

For those that love bad movies their is plenty of pleasure to be found in the pointless slow motion scenes, dodgy dubbing, awful make-up effects and over the top battles. Special mention goes to the mad people munching monks of Warrior’s Island who steal every scene they are in by gratuitously guffawing in the most malevolent way possible every time they appear.

Treated with the respect it most definitely doesn’t deserve the wonderful people at 101 Films bring Raw Force to Blu-ray for the first time in the UK stuffing it with extras including commentary, a Making of with director Ed Murphy and cinematographer Frank Johnson and even some deleted scenes.

Ending with To Be Continued it is sad that this unintentionally hilarious action horror never spawned a sequel especially as the idea of an island of undead martial arts masters has real potential. Perhaps its better there is only one Raw Force however as the film proves they really don’t make them like they used to, for some this might be a good thing but for people like me who love bad movies this marvellous mess is a true treat indeed.

Movie Rating: ★

★ ½ ☆ ☆ 



Alex Humphrey

Alex studied film at the University of Kent and went on to work for Universal Pictures in their Post Room gaining an inside look at the movie industry from the very bottom. Constantly writing reviews in everything from local magazines to Hip Hop sites Alex honed his critical skills even spending a brief period as a restaurant critic. Read more

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