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  Raw Force This Spectred Isle
Year: 1982
Director: Edward Murphy
Stars: Cameron Mitchell, Geoffrey Binney, Hope Holiday, Jillian Kesner, John Dresden, Jennifer Holmes, Rey King, Carla Reynolds, Carl Anthony, John Locke, Mark Tanous, Ralph Lombardi, Chanda Lombardi, Camille Keaton, Lin Lin Li, Vic Diaz, Robert MacKenzie
Genre: Horror, Comedy, Action, Martial Arts, TrashBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: A seaplane lands and docks beside this area of the South Seas known as Warriors Island and the pilot, Speer (Ralph Lombardi), gets out to present his latest find to the head monk (Vic Diaz) there. That find being a group of young women he has rounded up for sacrifice in the monks' rituals, for they are cannibals who believe feasting on the flesh of nubile ladies is precisely what they need to attain their spiritual growth. As the victims to be are stripped and placed in a cage, the head monk decides one is too skinny, and takes her out, whereupon he throws her to his machete-wielding zombies...

Wait, what? And that's only the first five minutes of Raw Force, a Filipino exploitation flick made by Americans which somehow slipped under the radar of many a fan of this sort of material, that in spite of the presence of Cameron Mitchell who was usually a signifier of trash at this stage in his career, though not all of it good. Not much of it good, to be honest, and this would really be no exception if it wasn't for a succession of nutty scenes which would either have you laughing or throwing up your hands that any movie could be so ridiculous. Or maybe both, as it appeared director Edward Murphy was applying as many elements as he could to sustain interest.

There was no argument that this wasn't interesting, but pitting a bunch of martial arts aficionados ("The Burbank Karate Club", apparently) against not only trained henchmen, but those cannibal monks and their zombie brethren into the bargain was never going to be boring. Mitchell essayed the role of the Captain of the cruise ship the club were travelling on, hoping to take in the sights of the Philippines and catch a few kickboxing matches - and visit a local cathouse. There were two aspects to this which Murphy was hedging his bets on bringing in the punters by staging a fight every couple of minutes, and for a while there for the first two thirds, whipping off a woman's clothes at the same interval.

Though once the pandemonium of the finale got going he apparently decided he'd done enough in that capacity. Nevertheless, to add yet more spice to his nonsense there was a degree of gore too, though oddly you never saw one of the zombies eating anyone, nor the monks - perhaps the budget didn't stretch to that. The interchangeable American martial artists were led by O'Malley (Geoffrey Binney), and found ample opportunity to apply boots to the head and whatnot once Speer's heavies set about sabotaging their trip for reasons best known to themselves; it could be because Speer was dressed up like Adolf Hitler in a safari suit, complete with toothbrush moustache and German accent, so was obviously a wrong 'un.

Speer also being Filipino, naturally - that's right, a Filipino Fuehrer, and that wasn't even the most ludicrous part of the movie. There were three acts to Raw Force, first the establishing of the cruise and the sightseeing of the wacky passengers as there were strong hints Murphy believed he was making a comedy, and do you know, he probably was. Then once out in the ocean, a lengthy disco party like that regular spot on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In where the camera would rove around the cast and settle on one for them to tell a joke, or in this case for one of the actresses to take off their clothes, including a guest appearance of the calibre of Camille Keaton, most infamous for the original I Spit On Your Grave. Then the party was crashed, the boat was trashed, and the survivors shipwrecked, washing up on Warriors Island for the final bout of kickpunching the bad guys and avoiding piranha (huh?). This was undoubtedly farcical, but breezed along at a rate which gave exploitation a good name, rare in itself. Music by Walter Murphy of Family Guy fame.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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