Sometimes a review for a product is all but unwarranted. Sometimes anyone with eyes can view the cover art; premise and title for a given film and pretty much infer the entire contents of it purely by osmosis and by comparing it to the millions of similar forgettable films that linger in the corners of our brains like cinematic cobwebs incarnate. When I saw the cover of this flick I thought it was going to be exactly this sort of crap; the kind of quasi-serious “quest for the holy foodle” sword and sorcery affair starring three buxom, often topless women who jiggle, kick and punch their way to heroism. While THE LOST EMPIRE is exactly that sort of film at face value, the fact it is so stratospherically madcap and tries to fit every possible cheesy sexploitation trope and idiom into a single film (often in the same scene) is absolutely exhausting in its absurdist amusement and perhaps the first (or last movie) of this genre you will ever need. In the interest of film history, let us take a dig into this LOST EMPIRE and go back to the ancient era of 1985 where never ending synth riffs were the most poignant musical expression imaginable, big breasts on a protagonist were worth an honorary black belt in every hand to hand fight scene and every madman lived on an uncharted island fortress guarded by an army disposable ninja henchmen.
"In a time before history, there existed a forgotten civilization - a strange, mystical race ruled by fierce creatures of myth and magic. They were called the Lemurians.
To protect their great power, they implanted their secrets of super-science into a pair of incredible jewels - the Eyes of Avatar - shimmering stones that possessed a life of their own.
Then, during a cosmic battle that nearly destroyed the Earth, the Lemurians were vanquished and the eyes were separated. It was written that whoever brought the jewels together again would rule with absolute power.
Today, an unscrupulous evil genius seeks to do just that...letting nothing or no one disrupt his nefarious plan. And so it has been - until now..."
Or so claims the screen crawl at the film’s beginning. If the following plot synopsis seems confusing and unnecessary to you, please feel free to ignore it entirely, (you won’t need it anyway). While the film is indeed about an oriental sounding but not actually Asian overlord Dr. Sin Do (Played by PHANTASM’S Angus Scrimm) and his attempt to rejoin two stones which would give him absolute power, as often as the case with a movie this eccentric, the stated plot of the film attempt is constantly overshadowed by a films constant, bombastic action sequences. So just let me explain what is really going on in this film as both a jaded adult film critic who has seen everything (and hates much of it) yet also as a man who was himself a fifteen year old boy back in 1985 and would have told you that this film is TOTALLY FUCKING AWESOME.
After the synopsis scrawl we see a police standoff inside a school building with three armed thugs. A lone policeman on a motorcycle in full identity concealing leather plows through the police tape COBRA style and drives right through the school and dispatches the thugs with a large caliber handgun. This being done, she removes her helmet and we realize she is a pretty police woman named Angel. No sooner does she play the hero than she learns that her brother Rob was one of the three cops mortally wounded in the opening credits in his battle with several ninjas who have magical “bullet blocking” throwing star yo yo’s. She rushes to his bedside and before his death he tells her about the evil Asian madman named Sin Do who is trying to harness the power of the two stones which would give him the ancient power of a God. She learns of a martial arts game of death tournament on his MORTAL KOMBAT inspired “Outworld” island fortress where teams of three women fight each other to the death for Sin’s own lurid pleasure. Of course there is only one thing any self-respecting police woman would do, she assembles a team of the most unlikely partners and joins the tournament. One of her team is an Indian warrior woman named White Star on a horse Angel summons out of thin air by placing an enchanted feather in a fire, and the other is a streetwise woman named Heather who is just a mild mannered female convict (that Angel herself once arrested) who just happens to be engaged in a catfight in the prison yard against a leather clad dominatrix brandishing a whip when they first visit her. Even the stern single prison guard watching this strange melee seems to mirror the sentiment of most male viewers watching this lopsided contest as he seems to say words to the effect of “I would stop this, but I want to see where this goes.” Once Heather emerges victorious, she is asked to join the team and she does so immediately in exchange for her freedom. The women all naturally seem to trust each other despite their different backgrounds of cop, magical spirit lady and convicted felon. Perhaps it is the fact that every one of the female protagonists recognizes the common good for humanity, or perhaps there is some sort of innate sisterhood inherent in every ass-kicking woman who has the bodily measurements of a showgirl? Anyhow it is a touching 1980’s display of female friendship and cohesion for people who found THELMA AND LOUISE to be a little too preachy and lacking in senseless man beatings.
The female trio quietly forges an invitation to the tournament by brutally strong arming a man who is obviously in charge of admissions, and before you know it they are on a mystery plane ride to Dr Sin Los Island, a strange, strangely futuristic matte Painting of a city that looks like it was inspired by equal parts JETSON’S and Jonestown architectural aesthetic. Once there they are given all kinds of strange, sci-fi (R rated) medical exams that are the very definition of invasive procedures, yet because the special effects are laughable and the devices are more suggestive than sexual, even the female viewers out there might find them to be more ludicrous than lewd. Even so, during these meticulous inspections, one woman from an opposing team found to be carrying a recording device and is killed at once. Humph, you think they would have covered this sort of thing in the handbook?
I really don’t want to give away any more than I already have. In closing, let me just say that future events of abject insanity include a random gorilla “guy in a suit” henchman, a disintegrator ray that looks like a giant schlong, and perhaps most bizarre of all there is a moment where Angel’s boyfriend sneaks onto the island to save her but ends up captured at once, inexplicably delivering the second stone to Dr Sin that Angel had been carrying in her purse for half the film without even realizing it! It has been said that director Jim Wynorski was Roger Corman’s favorite apprentice and trust me, the influence is visible in every frame. Imagine any Andy Sedaris film on crystal meth and you can pretty much envision the width and breadth of this.
In conclusion, I absolutely loved this film and I found it to be a perfect mix of ENTER THE DRAGON, CHARLIES ANGELS, and ESCAPE 2000 (my all-time favorite awful cult film) with just a dash of BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA thrown in for good measure. I never thought I could enjoy something this simple anymore, especially when realizing the poisonous premises I routinely review, but I obviously and emphatically did. Leave your critical thought at the door for just this once. I did, and by doing so I deem this LOST CONTINENT to be a real find.
Special Features include a director’s commentary, a still Gallery and the entire “Synthelicious” soundtrack.