I've had a bit of a rough time with films lately. I've enjoyed virtually nothing I've watched in the last few months, be it big budget Hollywood Blockbusters or low budget horror flicks, so I decided to plough through my back catalogue and dig out some vintage cheesy exploitation to cheer me up. After due deliberation I settled on Raw Force, a bizarre and unusual slice of weirdness from god knows what origins. I'm not sure how films like this ever got the green light, but I for one am glad that they did because lord knows Raw Force is a joyous, bizarre, unusual and just plain damned hilarious piece of vintage fucked-upness.
The director is one Edward Murphy (no, not that one, although this is funnier than anything he's appeared in the last 15 years....), and his film is at times pretty well made (although at others it would appear to have been edited by Helen Keller wearing a pair of boxing gloves).
The film begins with a cargo plane landing on "Warrior's Island". A number of young women are hustled onto the dock where they are stripped naked (although they don’t seem to be particularly bothered by this rather uncivilised behaviour). They are handed over by the plane's crew to a gaggle of cannibalistic monks who soon make it clear that they are going to barbecue the women and eat them. They do, however, stress that they WONT be boiling or baking them as this is apparently bad manners.
Anyway, back at the docks, three members of the "Burbank Karate School" (Taylor,O'malley and Schwartz) arrive to embark on a singles cruise of South East Asia, which includes a stop off at Warrior's Island.
A word here about the cruise ship. In close up it appears to be mightily impressive-brand new, multiple decks, with the words "Queen Mary" emblazoned on the side. Once the ship sets sail, however, it mysteriously shrinks to half its size, loses a number of decks and the paint appears to be peeling off the sides (have these filmmakers even HEARD of the word continuity?)
We are introduced to the ship’s captain, played by a completely inebriated Cameron Mitchell - fair play to him though he appears to be having a great time even if no-one else is! Things seem pretty cheap for a "luxury cruise"-I'm not sure many liners serve beer in paper cups like this one does for a start.
We then meet Dr Speer, the bad guy of the story. It is he who is responsible for trading the women with the cannibal monks, receiving jade in return, and he is naturally concerned that if the boat stops off at the island his dastardly plan will be foiled. Dr. Speer tries to avoid suspicion by talking in an outrageous German accent, slicking back his hair like a silent movie villain and wearing an Adolf Hitler moustache. To be honest, rather than arranging fight after fight at every stop off between the Burbank Karate club and his army of asian kung fu masters, he would probably be better of leaving the Captain to his own devices, because poor old Cameron Mitchell appears to be so drunk that he couldn’t find his own backside under the bedclothes with a flashlight, never mind Warrior's Island.
After numerous fights, including one in a strip club that is so damned dark you would need industrial floodlights to even SEE the strippers, the ship eventually arrives at Warrior's Island. Suspicion is immediately aroused by the monks rather bizarre behaviour, which includes closing their eyes, laughing and giggling maniacally, and licking their lips when they see the female cruise passengers. The monks have also been raising the dead, and there are a few rather pasty looking zombies wandering around the island as well.
Anyway, all hell breaks loose and it’s up to the Burbank Karate School and friends to save the day.
As you can probably tell from the above synopsis, Raw Force is great sleazy exploitation fun, containing virtually every possible staple of the genre, from bad dubbing, full frontal/topless female nudity in abundance, and Kung-Fu fights, to zombies, cannibal monks, and Cameron Mitchell.
The version I've got is a DVD-R that is currently doing the rounds under the title "Kung Fu Cannibals on Zombie Island" (what a title huh?) and if you can pick it up you won’t regret it- a must have for all fans of crazy exploitation cinema.