AUGUST 26, 2008
If you read my Doctor Butcher review, you’d know I was a bit on the un-sober side of things for Grindhouse night at the New Bev, but even if I had nothing stronger than ginger ale in my system, I don’t think I’d be able to make heads or tails of what the fuck was going on at any point of Raw Force (aka Kung Fu Cannibals). My buddy Larry told me before the screening that it was “the most "Grindhouse" movie ever”, and by God he was right. After we watched this masterpiece of incoherency, another buddy said that the film seemed like it was shot specifically for the peculiar breed of audience who attends these things 20 years later.
There are three words that pretty much sum up how awesome this movie is: “Burbank Karate Club”. Now, it’s a funny thing anyway, but it endeared to me SPECIFICALLY because of my odd and completely unmotivated disdain of this Los Angeles suburb. Home to my employer (NBC), Warner Brothers, and one of the most poorly staffed Best Buys on the planet, there’s just something about the place I find fascinating and hilarious. It gets mentioned about 4 times in the movie, and the audience provided 10x as many of its own references, and it made me laugh like DeNiro in Cape Fear every single time. Plus it got me to start rattling off other LA town-based martial arts clubs: The Sherman Oaks Judo Range, the Studio City Tae Kwon Do-Jo...
Plus the movie just doesn’t make a lick of sense. I mean, there’s a plot of some sort, but damned if I could tell you who was on who’s side or what their actual objective was. It’s got something to do with drugs and something called Jasper Jade, and an island where one (or maybe both) can be found. But no one seems to care about the story; the film’s real focus is mainly on people doing odd things for no reason. A perfect example is a scene about midway through the film, after the boat with all of our characters is sunk. Like in Friday the 13th VIII, our heroes get on the lifeboat, and all the other people on the ship are left for dead. So they are floating around in the ocean, and then a plane appears. So Cameron Mitchell (who else?) does the only logical thing: he shoots at it. But it turns out to have our bad guys! Did Mitchell know that? The plane appears to be about 2 miles away so I doubt he could see who was flying it. But does it matter?
The horror angle comes in from some zombie type things that show up near the end. They appear to be under the influence of a cult of some sort (the guys in the cult look like giant Jawas), but again, couldn’t tell you what they were actually trying to accomplish. And like the rest of the movie, they are a peculiarly non-violent group; I think the total body count in this movie is four. There’s like 10 people in the “good guy” group and I’m pretty sure all but one of them is alive at the end. Then again, a sequel was planned; it ends with “To Be Continued”, which prompted the crowd (already delirious from the 90 minutes of nonstop “Whaaaa?” they had just experienced) to cheer and provide a standing ovation. Maybe they were saving the kills for part 2.
It’s funny too; since I couldn’t tell what was happening most of the time, I had no real way to gauge how much time had passed or how much of the movie was left. Like, if you’re watching Friday the 13th part whatever, and everyone but the girl and maybe her boyfriend is dead, there’s only 15 minutes of the movie left, tops. But with Raw Force, I had no idea. The point where it ended could have just as easily been the halfway point.
Somehow this one is so obscure that it doesn’t even have a trailer on Youtube. The only DVD release is in a multipack, with a transfer taken from a VHS, so that’s hardly enticing. Still, if you love this type of movie, you really owe it to yourself to check it out at your earliest convenience.
What say you?