Raw Force
[a.k.a. Kung Fu Cannibals]

Dir: Edward D. Murphy
Star: Cameron Mitchell, Geoffrey Binney, Hope Holiday, Jillian Kesner

I vaguely recall seeing this in California on a long-ago trip, maybe 20 years or so. It hasn't aged well, mostly because it takes so damn long to get to the meat promised by its original title. Most of it concerns a trampy cruise-ship, whose passengers conveniently include members of a karate club (including Mitchell) and Los Angeles SWAT cops (Kesner). By popular demand, the cruise is scheduled to stop at Warrior Island, where legend has it, monks resurrect the spirits of disgraced martial artists so they can fight again. Legend has it right, and the local hoods who trade women to the monks in exchange for trade do not want a bunch of nosy American tourists poking around, and will stop at nothing - including an all-out assault on the boat - to prevent them from landing. This backfires, as after sinking the vessel, where do the shipwrecked survivors end up landing? Yep: Warrior Island.

If you can imagine The Love Boat with copious nudity - albeit, understandably, nudity of an early-80's kind, i.e. tan lines and no razors - you've got the bulk of this, since the first hour has japes in a brothel, a bar-fight, and a lengthy party sequence on the boat which serves no actual purpose in terms of plot or characterization. There's no shortage of stuff going on; unfortunately, most of it really isn't very interesting. That said, the martial-arts on view is decent enough, with a couple of fight sequences that are well-staged and competently filmed [whatever the downside of the 80's with regard to pubic hair, they could still stage action]. However, instead of coherence, the movie opts to throw everything it can think of at the viewe - I mean, "Asian piranhas"? - and the result ia a complete mess, to the point where your brain may shut down in self-preservation. If the results are certainly not dull, that's likely about the only flaw this doesn't exhibit.

[December 2011]

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