On a quiet Monday I sit at the videostore drinking my coffee and still feeling that I am in a movie daze from my late night viewing of the 1982 cult classic RAW FORCE late last night. Now I had seen it before but it had been so long that it was kind of a blur to me. Well good reader, let me tell you that after last night I will never forget the ridiculous and unintentional brilliance of taking a trip to Warriors Island! Oh, allow me to explain.
Raw Force is a combined genre film that decided to use the three most popular things happenening in B-Movie cinema at the time. Zombies, Martial Arts, and T and A sex comedy flicks. How could it go wrong? Did I mention the whiskey was flowing hard last night while watching this? Even my cats were thinking I had a drinking problem during these 86 minutes of viewing.
So here’s the insane plot as it goes. Opening up we meet the “bad guys”. You see we have a Hitler looking villain that works with some thugs who kidnap “working girls” from cathouses to deliver them to some twisted evil monks on “Warrior Island” in exchange for pure Jade stones that they carve into collectable statues to sell to tourists to make lots of money. Now the monks do not want to have sex with the ladies. No, they intend to eat them because they believe the eating of young women’s flesh on this island will bring back from the dead the disgraced samurai and karate warriors of the past who have been buried there. Yup, that’s the evil plot. And you can tell these monks are evil as shit because they are always smiling and laughing mainly in slow motion. I told you the movie was incredible.
So now we meet our heros. Mike O’Malley and John Taylor from the “Burbank Karate Club”. Yup, they have booked a fun boat cruise to check out the mystery of Warrior Island themselves because, you know, karate. The boat is run by Capt. Harry and Hazel Buck. They bitch with each other all the time about money and who the boss is but hey, it’s good bickering that you need in a film like this to remind the viewer that soon, aside from the zombies and ass kicking, the laughs will follow.
Once the cruise gets under way we are introduced to the rest of the gang. Cookie Winchell, an off duty SWAT team member and all around fellow asskicker is on the ride with friend for a nice getaway. During the ride there is a karate demonstration by some of the guys on the deck that smashes some windows and upsets Capt. Harry all to the amusement of the guests watching. But after that we get a guy looking for volunteers to demonstrate a self defence technique. Naturally Cookie steps up and makes the guy look like a sack of garbage to make us know she truly kicks ass while looking stunning. Good bless the 80s.
As the movie rolls on we get to meet the rest of the colourful characters aboard this cruise. O’Malley has the hots for a young blonde named Ann but she is married to her womanizing drunk husband Lloyd. In fairness Lloyd comes off okay for a typical movie jerk. Also we have the cook Go Chin. He really just wants to open his own restaurant up but until then works on the boat with Capt. Harry and cooks with his martial skills possibly coming in handy later in the film. And ofcourse we have Hazel Buck still trying to take control of the business side of things on this cruise dealing with Capt. Harry.
Now while in dock Lloyd decides to drag Mike to a cathouse for some hanky panky with the locals. While there our Hitler looking villain shows up to kidnap the women again under the disguise of a police raid. He notices that Mike and the gang are planning to go to Warrior Island as part of their cruise and knows he can never let this happen.
So the first plan by the bad guys is to kidnap Capt. Harry at the local bar everyone is drinking at so the cruise can not happen. Ofcourse when you have a handful a karate experts drinking in a bar along with a dozen bad guys here is the chance to give the audience an old fashioned, chair smashing, body tossing, bottle throwing bar brawl to make up for the lack of Oscar winning acting. Stay with your strong points for sure. After a well shot brawl the bad guys go running off and the gang has saved Capt. Harry from his abduction. And during the entire bar fight there is a stripper dancing on the bar nonstop no matter how many bodies are flying around. God bless the commitment.
So now the party continues on the actual cruise ship with tons of booze, slap stick hunour, horrible one liners, brutal attempts to pick up ladies, and an insane ammount of T &A to remind you, yup, this is a movie made to appeal to 17 year old boys in 1982. Again…thank you. During these fun minutes of booze, partying, and nudty we are introduced to the greatest cameo character I have seen in years. The bartender. Seriously this guy looks a Art Garfunkel and a character from Lord Of The Rings. And everytime some one needs a drink on the rocks he uses his head to smash a brick of ice and scoops up the pieces into your glass!? Fucking amazing. This scene is an instant reminder you are watching something special. But sadly the bad guys are about to show up and break up this party. Booo!
So after being humiliated at the bar brawl the baddies are not taking any chances this time. Their plan? Well, simply to invade the cruise ship during this party in the still of the night and kill everyone on board while dressed like rejects that did not make the cut for the Village People. I mean, couldn’t they just try to sabotage the boat instead? Nope, they wanna stab and cut everyone. So obviously all hell breaks loose on the ship with violence, gun fire, more nudity, more sweet karate, and finally the ship being set on fire with some terrible special effects. While this all happens the baddies manage to kidnap one of the lovely ladies from party to add to their collection of sacrafices to the monks on the Island. That’s right, don’t forget the Monks.
So with no hope of saving the boat the remaining people onboard use a floating device to get off and naturally float on the ocean to get rescued. Judging by the number of characters that escaped on the life boat a lot of naked and drunk party people died during that sequence. And the part that hurts me the most is the ice breaking bartender did not make it either. Damn it…he was truly amazing. So anyways, the gang finally floats up to Warrior Island. There they are confronted by Hitler and his baddies how are armed to the teeth with guns and a fucking bazooka?! This shit just got real. Anyways, cue a gun fight that quickly turns into a another sequence of kicky kicky punchy punchy. YES!
After getting through all that the baddies retreat again because they need to deliver the new batch of girls, get their Jade stones, and get the hell out of there to make more tourist gifts to make money. Seriously, the more I think about this scheme it has to be one of the weakest bad guy plots I have watched in a long time. Anyways, let’s get back to the good guys who have met the Monks. For some reason they follow the Monks who invite in for dinner and seem trustworthy to them. WTF? Are we looking at the same guys? Well shit, to the shock and horror of the Burback Karate Club they uncover the cannibal plot as they witness the Monks eating the flesh of the ladies in the underground cavern. Luckily they manage to save their friend before she gets cooked and eaten but the damage has been done. Will the undead corpses of past warriors rise for our amusement? You god damn rights they will.
So now comse the climax of the movie. The big battle we have been waiting for. The ultimate survival of brutality with our karate heroes facing off against the unholy hell that are zombies with fighting ability! Will it live up to the hype? Ummm….
So god bless the filmmakers and actors for trying to bring it with every punch, kick, sword, knuchuk, and throwing star possible. The good news is you will not be bored. The bad news is you’ll be shaking your head out of pure “what the hell am I watching right now?” The scenes cut from one fight to the next. Some work better than others. The amusing ones are the wide shots where actors dressed as zombies in the background are just waiting for their turn to step up and get kicked back into bushes or trees. It’s great. But remember, the goal for our gang is to make it back to Hitler lookalike’s plane and escape alive with all the Jade stones on there as a bonus!
So during the battle the bad guy thugs are caught off guard because they were too busy getting the Jade out of the mines and end up being killed by the undead warriors. Also our main wanna be Hitler boss is forced to abandon his plane with our heroes taking control. He ends up jumping into the water but sadly for him those very waters are filled with, you guessed it, man eating piranhas! Crazy! So yeah, he dies.
So after one death from the good guy side, it’s poor Lloyd. You know the shitty husband to Ann? If you forgot it’s cool. The important thing is with Lloyd dead Mike can now be happy with his widow. Also once everyone on the plane sees all the jade which is as good as gold Capt. Harry and Hazel decide they can buy a new boat and work great together as a team once again. And our awesome martial cook can finally open his restaurant too! Man, I love happy endings! I was literally clapping on my couch at 3am over sheer joy. Also whiskey.
Well guys, I can not stress enough the bizarre nature of this film. If you know me and my shop I love introducing these lost oddities of cinema to you to take home along with whatever is new and exciting. For every known movie you rent or buy you must combine it with a B-Movie slice of silly WTF. This my friends is a movie watching fact.
So remember guys, Always take a chance on a movie you know nothing about. It’s how we did it back in 80s walking into the videostores. You would just see a cover and go “Holy Shit! This is gonna be amazing!” Now they sadly were not always up to what we thought they were gonna be but there was always enough good stuff to share with with your movie nerd friends. Discovering a movie like RAW FORCE was like discovering a new species of animal and desperately wanting to share it to the rest of the world. Or atleast the group of friends you maybe drink, smoke, and watch bad movies with. So get on it!
And never forget, until next time, the videostore loves you! Cheers.