Raw Force (1982)

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?


  1. Wow! A good Cameron Mitchell movie?? Hell, I actually like "The Demon" but, in my defense, I was hammered and the only thing I remember is the naked broad running around at the end.

  2. what is your job when not getting to get drunk and see ridiculous movies?

  3. For Cameron Mitchell see Blood and Black Lace by the legendary Mario Bava!

  4. The Demon is awesome. And I mean that in a totally un-ironic way.

  5. All right people. If you're alive and you like to get drunk and get stupid, then you owe it to yourself to watch RAW FORCE. However, this isn't really much of a "I think I'll just sit back and watch this by myself" kind of a flick. It's really one of the more the merrier variety. It's a social event where people should come together just to have their minds collectively blown.

    Questions you should ask yourself before embarking on the cinematic journey that is RAW FORCE:

    - Do I like tits and ass?
    - Do I like naked chicks in bamboo cages?
    - Do I like zombie samurais?
    - Do I have an affinity for German dudes with Hitler mustaches?
    - Do I like hippy thugs that constantly end their sentences with word "man"?
    - Do I like karate?
    - Do I live in or around Burbank?
    - Do I like tits and ass?
    - Do I have any aspiriations to knowing what it would be like on a swinging singles budget boat cruise?
    - Do I like chicks named Cookie?
    - Do I like bartenders that randomly crush huge blocks of ice with their head?
    - Do I like my boat captains drunk?
    - Do I like the idea of having my very own kung fu chef?
    - Do I find LA S.W.A.T. team members attractive?
    - Do I like tits and ass?

    If you answered yes to any three of these questions, then there's a good chance you'll love the first 30 minutes of RAW FORCE alone.

    RAW FORCE is like a grindhouse frankenstein. Sir Edward Murphy takes everybody's favorite grindhouse elements and stitches them together to make a monster of a film. So do yourself a favor. Get some booze and some friends and party with this movie.

  6. Unfortunately, I live in Boston where most theatres scoff at showing stuff like this. I hate depending on a DVD release & then I also lose out on the whole audience experience. Lame.

    I love Bava, so I'll be adding "Blood and Black Lace" to my netflix queue. Thanks.

  7. I was an extra in this movie. I was an American going to school in Manila. I was the bearded guy in the Hawaiian shirt in the bar fight scene. I never saw the finished product until some 30 years later. I had no idea what it was about then and still don't but it's so bad, it's almost fun.

    My pay slip says it was called "Warrior's Island" and I never could find it until a year or two ago.

  8. For Cameron Mitchell see Blood and Black Lace by the legendary Mario Bava!


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