Thursday, 30 May 2013

Sweet Justice



SWEET JUSTICE (1992)

Directed by: Allen Plone
Written by: Allen Plone & Jim Tabilio
Starring: Finn Carter, Frank Gorshin, Kathleen Kinmont, Marjean Holden, Marc Singer & Mickey Rooney

A squad of ex-military, kung-fu kicking babes decide to clean up their town and kick some ass in this decent battling babes action flick. Walking the line(s) between badass action, soap opera naffness and outright exploitation, Sweet Justice is, well, pretty sweet. The lovely Finn Carter (of Tremors fame) is a tough talking, no-nonsense, martial arts whiz who when her sister is set up and killed by the evil toxic waste dumping Frank Gorshin decides to get her old unit of fighting females back together and take revenge. With no help from the local law enforcement douche (Marc Singer) the girls train up, tool up and ride into town on some cool looking motorcycles to kick some serious ass. Not before they've had a group sauna or two though!

If you can get through the first twenty/twenty five minutes or so, then Sweet Justice turns out to be a nice little action flick with some impressive rough and tumble stunts and action scenes. While it’s nice that the filmmakers set up the characters and their relationships, the first part of the film is a bit of slog to get through. Scenes tend to drag (despite Gorshin and good old Mickey Rooney hamming proceedings up!) and there are only so many scenes of Singer moping around and trying to romance Carter a viewer can take.

Luckily once Carter decides to get her team back together (which includes action stalwarts Kathleen Kinmont and Marjean Holden) proceedings pick up immensely. Cue many training montages as the girls work out, practice martial arts and even have an all nude sauna together! Nothing says camaraderie like an all nude group sauna. The girls then get down to business quick battling Gorshin’s seemingly never ending army of machine gun toting goons. There is a nice mix of martial arts, gunplay and motorcycle stunts, it all packs a punch and with each lady getting to deliver justice once the action starts it rarely lets up. It may be a little rough round the edges but the stunt people and leading ladies are put through their paces and there is a particularly memorable scrap in a house between one of the girls and a high kicking goon.

Sweet Justice works both as a high powered female action film and an exploitation film. The makers switch back and forth between presenting the female cast as a tough and in control female fighting force before then getting them to strip down in the sauna so we can ogle their bodies: meaning the tone is a little all over the place. Carter brings the requisite tough girl swagger and come the ending (after all the shooting, kicking and inevitable casualties) she even stops to consider whether it was all worth it with several members of her team now dead. It’s not every day a low budget action film ends on a downer assessing the unnecessary deaths of loved ones.

Sweet, sexy, rough, tough and once it gets going packed with high impact action Sweet Justice is a fun all female fighting ride.



Death Raiders



DEATH RAIDERS (1984)

Directed by: Segundo Ramos
Written by: Segundo Ramos & Daddy Gomez
Starring: Joel Alano, June Ariston, Renato Del Prado, George Estregan, Rodolfo ‘Boy’ Garcia, Robert Lee

A low budget and trashy Philippine action movie that is so low budget and trashy that other low budget and trashy Philippine action movies say “damn that is one low budget and trashy action movie.” Probably. After five to ten minutes of ample stock footage (complete with the “stars” of the film throwing hand grenades at the camera and then vehicles/bridges/huts exploding in footage obviously taken from some other film!) Death Raiders gets down to business fast as a bunch of jungle based despots (led by their rather unintentionally hilarious leader who loves to coordinate his shirts and hats: nothing says crazy bad guy like a matching red shirt and hat combo!) kidnap some important officials/random people and hold them hostage in a cave somewhere in the deep dark jungle. Some other important officials/random people are upset by this, won’t stand for it and decide to get together and send in their roughest, toughest, disco loving crack team of commandos: the Death Raiders. Running, shooting and a fair amount of tedium follows.

Neither living up to its awesome video cover, title and the above synopsis Death Raiders feels like it’s been made by a bunch of dudes who have seen many (many) movies (or at least many other low budget and trashy Philippine action movies) and decided to make their own. Coherency is a no go but absurdity certainly is! Death Raiders is all over the place with loads of random characters, a team who are supposed to be badasses but seem to be more inept than the actual bad guys and a ridiculous amount of somewhat overweight guys you all insist on wearing their shirts open in order to expose their impressive beer guts. This is perhaps the only movie where if you are a skinny and in shape guy you have to wear your shirt done up but if you have a large gut, are pushing 50 and look like you are on the verge of a heart attack then, hey, you get to wear your shirt open!

Fortunately there is mucho running and shooting action and even a bit of martial arts. It’s not particularly good with such well “choreographed” scenes including dozens of extras continually running into the path of our heroes firing guns and dying in a hilariously unconvincing manner, the best-worst rescue of a hostage (this scene features the raiders in the wide open running in a line firing their guns and not one of the bad guys can hit them: awesome!) and a hilarious kung fu fight in a disco! At least come the finale there is plenty of machine gun action and exploding huts which is the main reason to be watching a low budget and trashy Philippine jungle based action movie.

You usually can’t go wrong with a Philippine jungle based action movie (all you need is lots of running, shooting and exploding huts!) but Death Raiders is not a prime example of this genre. There is just enough silly action to make it worth a watch but sadly (and as mentioned many, many times during the course of this review) it is just too low budget and trashy (and amateur!) to really be much fun.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Painted Skin


Check out my new review of Painted Skin over at Far East Films.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Warrioress



WARRIORESS (2012)

Directed by: Ross Boyask
Written by: Ross Boyask, Cecily Fay & Chris Regan
Starring: Cecily Fay, Joelle Simpson, Christian Howard, Merrilees Fay Harries, Will Brenton,  Brendan Carr, Helen Steinway Bailey

Director Ross Boyask returns to the feature action fray with the post-apocalyptic fight action flick, Warrioress. Taking a slightly different route this time around (after his previous film: the brutal action crime flick Ten Dead Men), Warrioress sees Boyask and his crew aiming bigger despite what must had been a tiny budget. Regardless of this, Warrioress is crammed to the rafters with some wickedly choreographed fight action and an energetic performance from leading lady Cecily Fay.

In a post-apocalyptic world that’s one part Xena, one part Mad Max and another part crazy kung fu madness, two female warriors (Fay and Simpson) must travel the lands to an ancient site in order to fight to the death in a sacred tournament and fulfill an ancient foretelling. Forming a shaky alliance they face foe after foe on their journey to the hallowed land as an evil army, known as the Falonex, attempt to stop the two lady warriors from completing their mission. What follows is a seemingly unstoppable onslaught of martial arts combat as the feisty females decimate all those in their way.

While as mad as the above sounds, Warrioress delivers some fine fight action and is an excellent showcase for some impressive female fighters to strut their stuff. Utilizing some striking locations and crisp clean photography, Boyask and his team have created an impressive and distinct world for the characters to venture through: and all on a minuscule budget. Fay makes for a sprightly, sexy and super kicking heroine, carrying most of the picture on her tiny, albeit very strong, shoulders. Joellle Simpson is also good as her feisty, and taller, adversary cum friend and Helen Steinway Bailey makes a memorable impression as a thoroughly badass Falonex warrior determined to kick our heroine’s ass. The boys also get in on the action with Christian Howard cutting some cool moves while Ten Dead Men star  Brendan Carr is an absolute hoot as a manically laughing bad guy out to make trouble for the freedom fighting females.


Due to its budget the film’s constraints, non-surprisingly, do show through sometimes. The tone occasionally veers towards taking itself a little too seriously (the dialogue a little cringe worthy on occasion) but is always reigned in by the mood being lightened or the wickedly fun fight action kicking in. Arguably the film gets better as it goes long, the second half really switching into high gear as the action mounts and the threat towards the protagonists increases. In addition, the pace rarely drags as the action continuously ramps up the entertainment value.

Boyask, Fay and their crew of fighters and choreographers deliver the goods in terms of fight action, topping even the good work they did on Ted Dead Men. Fay is an excellent fighter and the tight and varied choreography of the fight scenes makes Warrioress a terrific action film. From two blistering face-offs between Fay and Steinway Bailey (both excellent fighters and stuntwomen having worked on the likes of Prometheus and Snow White and the Huntsman), to a raid on a Falonex base and to (arguably the best fight scene) the girls taking on a group of groovy ninjas, the fight action is crisp, fluid and full of energy. Boyask knows his action and piles it one here delivering some very satisfying martial arts action.

While some may be surprised that Boyask has gone the fantasy action route after the hard hitting crime action of Ten Dead Men (and his earlier flick Left for Dead), Warrioress is nevertheless a fun ride, a great vehicle for Fay and, well, just a well mounted and immensely enjoyable action flick. The conclusion sets proceedings up for a potential sequel, which wouldn't be a bad thing: though I would like Another Ten Dead Men first.

Good stuff.