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Article Archive >> Entertainment

Movies From the Black Lagoon: Raw Force

Movies From the Black Lagoon
Raw Force -1982, Rated R

Julia Child couldn't have cooked up a better dish than this low budget effort that has all the ingredients of a drive-in classic.
Take one dash of Kung-Fu, a heaping portion of cannibal monks, a zombie army and set all of them to simmer on a tropical island. Now introduce damsels in distress, who are seldom dressed, and place them on the island after being kidnapped by an ex-Nazi who plans to trade them to the monks for a ton of jade. Things may look dire now but finish it all off with shipwrecked heroes who just happen to be the founding members of the Burbank Karate School and you have a tasty treat that stirs every genre film flavor into an affordable, and better yet watchable, stew.
The story, as it is, follows a tour group that signs on for a low budget cruise of the Pacific. Their passenger list includes the Burbank dudes, a hard drinking captain, a cook (who also happens to be a martial artist), assorted beach bunnies, and a couple headed for a messy divorce. The Burbank guys are there to see "Warrior's Island." They have heard the legends that state that fighters went there to die after bringing dishonor onto themselves (whatever). The rest of the passengers are just looking for a little ship board romance and some sight-seeing but everyone is disappointed when pirates, who make off with women and set fire to the boat, attack the ship. The Burbank trio escape with assorted "Love Boat" rejects and find themselves on "Warrior's Island" but nobody gets a warm welcome. After taking out the pirates our band is greeted by the monks who offer them rescue if (and its a huge if) they can defeat a Kung-Fu army of the living dead.
While sharing a supper with the holy ones our band discovers that the monks raise their army by consuming the flesh of young women and this leads to a major disagreement that can only be settled by a massive brawl. It's a decent set piece, which also offers the filmmakers a chance to squeeze last minute thrills onto the menu such as a beheading, some bone breaking battles, and death by various martial arts weapons.
This one gets the drive-in formula right though it actually misses a few ingredients such as a good script and seasoned actors. The whole is greater here, however, as you get chase scenes, well staged fights, and a ton of assorted nastiness. The film even manages to end on a high note and promises a sequel that, unfortunately, has yet to happen. The other bonus here is that the film is part of the "Grind house Classics" boxed set that includes 19 other drive-in classics that hit on all genres and include horror films, spaghetti westerns, and even one of those man vs. nature pseudo-documentaries. Watch a few of these and you'll be in movie heaven, or hell, if you're one of those art film fanatics who insist that every movie bear a cumbersome message.
Best Line: "They claim that female flesh gives them the power to raise the 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: dotyfox@pennswoods.net.

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