Arts

Cult Movie: 1980s actioner Raw Force offers an insane mix of kung fu, cannibals and zombies

Gonzoid action epic Raw Force invaded video shops back in 1982
Ralph McLean

Raw Force

HERE'S a pertinent question for you in these pandemic times. How crass do you like your cult films to be during lockdown? Do you want seriously low-rent exploitation fodder – you know, the kind of Z-grade guff you can lose yourself in and forget the moment the cheap and tawdry titles have wobbled off the screen? Nobody wants to actually engage their brain with decent dialogue or coherent plotlines in times like these, do they? You want straight to video action that's so cheesy you could top a pizza with it, right?

If you've answered "yes" to all of the above, then step right up and meet your new favourite film: Raw Force is an epically bad American and Philippines co-production that apparently graced video shop shelves in 1982, although I never saw it in my local XtraVision.

An insane mix of martial arts potboiler, zombie flick and cannibal epic it's got everything you could possibly want from a "leave your brain at the door" Friday night cult classic. It is, in fact, the definition of that old expression "so bad it's good" – and it's crying out for your attention, thanks to the tasteful people at 101 Films who have, in their wisdom, released it on Blu-ray this month.

Directed – in the loosest possible sense – by Edward Murphy, it tells the outlandish tale of the Burbank Kung Fu Club, who find themselves washed up on Warrior's Island, a strange exotic place that plays host to the buried remains of the world's disgraced martial arts masters.

Before you can say "best set-up ever", these would-be Bruce Lee types are rising from their graves, caked in bad blue corpse make-up and hungry for bloody revenge.

What unfolds from there on in is a wildly tasteless catalogue of cheaply staged set-pieces involving flesh-ripping, kung-fu fighting zombies, rifle-toting white slave traders, scantily clad women and mysterious monks who may just be able to explain what the hell is actually going on. I wouldn't bet on it though.

This is seriously sleazy cult entertainment of the highest order with lots of outrageous gore and unnecessary nudity. It even manages to find a home for cult movie greats Vic Diaz and the mighty Cameron Mitchell, who looks like he's never fired a gun in his life and would rather be anywhere on Earth than on the set of this tatty little exploitation gem.

Be warned, it is seedy stuff at times: but if you can stomach the gratuitous sex, high school level special effects and cheaply applied make-up that looks like it's been bought from a hardware store as a job lot and applied with all the finesse you'd give to creosoting a garden fence, there's a ton of fun to be had here.

101 have very decently added a selection of extras for your delight, including commentary from David Flint and Adrian Smith and a 'making of' documentary, but really it's the main event you'll be staring wide-eyed at here. It's crude, crass and just about perfect for the world we find ourselves in.

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Arts