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Movies From the Black Lagoon: The Warrior
Movies From the Black Lagoon
Bollywood strikes again with this highly imaginative action-fest that mixes martial arts style brawls, voodoo magic, and some gory, though not very convincing, special effects to frame the story of a revolutionary leader who challenges the Dutch power structure in Indonesia.
The hero of the piece is Jaka Sembung. He's a true 80's dude who rocks a "Rambo" do and favors the bare torso look. These affectations don't help him much as he' been captured by Dutch forces when we first meet him and spends most of the film getting roughed up until the finale. The Dutch magistrate, Van Schramm, mocks him before sentencing him to hard labor. This means they issue him a pick and Jaka is quick to incite a rebellion that gets most of his fellow prisoners killed while he manages to escape.
Van Schramm isn't happy when he gets the news and decides to hire a local mercenary to take down Jaka. An enormous guy named Khobar gets the job after demonstrating his various talents, which include: a bulletproof body, the ability to spit fireballs, and uncanny strength (which he employs to wrestle and subsequently strangle a bull). Khobar's diverse talents serve him well when he tangles with Jaka but he proves to have a major weakness when it comes to bamboo which Jaka exploits by plunging a shoot through his mouth and out the back of Khobar's head.
Von Schramm is furious when he hears the news but his hopes rise when a sorcerer, with very unfortunate teeth, volunteers to resurrect the one warlock, Kieten, that can defeat Jake. The Dutchman is a bit dubious at first since the mystic in question was decapitated but he signs on for the plan.
Turns out that the guy with the bad teeth is a halfway decent magician and he soon frees Kieten's body from its grave and then reunites it with his head (which was buried separately). The restored magic user is able to subdue Jaka pretty quickly and he's soon a prisoner in Schramm's dungeon.
Schramm's daughter tries to break Jaka out but that only serves to madden the Dutchman who reacts by poking out both of Jaka's eyes. This leaves our hero in dire straits but he prays to Allah for extra strength and is granted enough to free himself from his shackles. Unfortunately he runs into Kieten who punishes him by casting a spell that turns him into a pig.
Jaka the pig fares better than the human version and actually runs into the one magic user who knows how to change a pig into a man. The old magi also sticks around to train Jaka for his next battle with Kieten. The two face off in a fierce finale that sees Jaka exact some major pay back on Kieten and separating him into two-piece again which he opts to burn, rather than bury.
All in all this one's a wild ride. The effects are kinda goofy (during the prison escape sequence you see an obvious dummy thrown off a cliff) but they add to the "off the wall charm." The only performer of note is Barry Prima who stars as Jaka. He became so popular from this film that he starred in two sequels, which also boast imaginative, if somewhat lame, special effects. The good folks at "Mondo Macabro" video have made it their mission to release obscure Bollywood films and their restorations are superb. They're promising to roll out the whole "Warrior" series in the future and it's a fitting introduction to a treasure trove of genre flicks that have stayed off the our radar but deserve their moment in the sun.
Best Line: "How do you tell a pig he will very soon be dead?"
Tom Doty occasionally emerges from the Lagoon to check his e-mail. If you'd like to get a message to him, write to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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