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August 11, 2014

Movie Review: Raw Force (1982)

Directed by Edward D. Murphy

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

A cruise ship full of swinging singles and martial artists piloted by Captain Harry Dodds (Cameron Mitchell) and managed by loudmouthed harridan Hazel Buck (Hope Holiday) run afoul of jade smuggler Thomas Speer (Ralph Lombardi) who resembles Hitler in an ice cream suit. Speer sends his goons to sink the boat, and the survivors land their life raft on an island inhabited by cannibal monks (one of whom is played by perpetual Filipino trash film star Vic Diaz) who have the power to raise disgraced kung-fu killers from the grave …

In short, listing the exploitive elements that this Filipino feature DOESN'T have would make for a much shorter and more manageable list.

It’s not possible to dislike a film featuring cannibalistic monks and hordes of reanimated zombie martial artists. Such is the case with Raw Force. Add tons of tits and ass, gore that wouldn’t convince a pre-schooler and lots of slapstick and you simply can’t miss! This is exploitation cinema as it will never be again: no irony, no cross-referencing other films, a nonsense logic that only applies to the particular universe in which it is set … and the result is Movie Magic. Quentin Tarantino could bang on a typewriter for an eternity and never reach the joyous energy found on display here.

Since you’ll be rushing out to purchase this Vinegar Syndrome release – and if not, something’s wrong with you, friend – a word about the extras:

“Destination: Warriors Island,” is a 15-minute interview with director Edward Murphy and cinematographer/producer and Frank Johnson. Murphy offers up a lot of tidbits, saying that he eschewed going to film school after his stint in the military, saying it only took him two years to land a film directing gig by walking the streets of HollRaw Force is also shown to have a pedigree that cements its reputation in the trash film firmament with participation of executive producer Larry Woolner, who went all the way back to Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman back in 1958.

Murphy also shares the fact that Cameron Mitchell would only participate given his then-girlfriend Hope Holiday get a role. Holiday, with a lengthy film career, adds a lot of gumption to the proceedings and adds a lot of the film’s intentional humor. When a member of her cruise ship is killed, she wails in the background, “He was a paying customer on my ship! Woo-hoo!” Another clever bit that shows that the filmmakers were in on the joke is a scene where a passenger takes a lengthy swig from a flask as a helpful voiceover from the public address system says, “Please avoid drinking the tap water while on land …”

Schlock film emeritus Jim Wynorski gives a five minute telephone interview and he likewise has a lot of salty stories to share.

The DVD/Blu-ray combo features an impeccable, colorful transfer as well as the film’s original theatrical trailer.

While Director Murphy says the film is targeted towards 17-year-old boys, just imagine the fragile constitutions this feature would have shattered on even younger boys, say 12 or 13, who stumbled on this on cable TV. They would be condemned for life as exploitation film scholars! You need Raw Force.

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