Sunday, January 31, 2021

RAW FORCE (1982) (101 Films Blu-ray Review)

RAW FORCE (1982)
Label: 101 Films
Region Code: B
Rating: Cert. 18
Duration: 96 Minutes
Video: 1080p High Definition Widescreen (1.78:1)
Audio: Uncompressed English PCM Dual Mono with Optional English Subtitles
Director: Edward Murphy
Cast: Cameron Mitchell, Camille Keaton, Vic Diaz, Geoffrey Binney, John Dresden, Jillian Kesner, Hope Holliday 

Synopsis: Welcome to Warrior’s Island, burial ground of disgraced martial arts masters! When the Burbank Kung Fu Club travels to this mysterious island, they quickly find themselves facing the bloodthirsty vengeance of flesh-ripping, kung fu fighting zombies, gun-toting white slave traders and a band of strange monks, who may be the only key to explaining the madness.

Raw Force (aka Kung Fu Zombies) is a wonderfully bonkers slice of trash cinema shot in the wilds of the  Philippines. The story combines weird kung-fu action with  demented zombie mayhem, and the end product is a mixed-bag of bad-cinema awesomeness. We have a pleasure boat filled with members of the Burbank Kung-Fu Club setting off to a place called Warrior Island, where martial art legends are buried. What the Burbank Kung-Fu Club are unaware of is that the island is inhabited by a cabal of evil robed monks, lead by Vic Diaz (The Big Bird Cage), whom have resurrected an army of disgraced martial arts masters by sacrificing nude women. The monks have procured these unlucky women by trading raw chunks of jade to a German white slaver named Speer (Ralph Lombardi), a weirdo with a white suit and a Hitler moustache. The flick is just straight up weird and words fail me when I attempt to describe just how jaw-droppingly stupefying and entertaining this kung-fu dumpster fire really is, but I shall try. 

Director Edward Murphy (Heated Vengeance) throws everything and the kitchen sink at the screen with an un-ending array of wild exploitation action, cheeseball dialogue and gratuitous nudity, and that sort of works. The story is a many tentacled beast that is a bit too convoluted for it's own good but it is still a sloppy bit of foot-to-face nonsense that won't ever bore you. The finale boils down to the members of the Burbank Kung-Fu Club fighting the evil monks, the white-slaver and his crew of mercenaries, and of course the army of undead martial art masters. The last ten-minutes of the flick are a barrage of explosions, bazookas, beheadings and a ton of cheap gore gags that are the cherry on top of this trash cinema sundae. 

The brisk pace is a bewildering tornado of questionable acting, stiff martial arts choreography and copious amounts of sleaze, all of which proved to be highly satisfying, even on what I believe is my fourth watch. I almost forgot to mention that the pleasure boat is captained by screen titan Cameron Mitchell (Blood and Black Lace), who at this point in his career apparently had a lot of bill to pay, and keep your peepers peeled for an eyeful of Camille Keaton  from I Spit On Your Grave, who is credited as the "girl on the toilet"!

Audio/Video: Raw Force (1982) arrives on Blu-ray in the UK from 101 Films in 1080p HD framed in 1.78:1 widescreen, utilizing the same 2K scan used by Vinegar Syndrome for their own Blu-ray in 2015. There's a thick layer of film grain throughout that supports fine detail in the close-ups of texture and facial features. Overall the colors are well-saturated but occasionally the image leans soft side due to source limitations. Overall though this is a colorful film shot in an exotic location and the colors and bloodshed look glorious in HD. There's some slight print damage evident from time to time like scratches, grit and speckling, but nothing that will detract from your enjoyment of this trashy kung-fu action epic.  

Audio comes by way of of English LPCM mono with optional English subtitles. There's some hiss and pops present but dialogue is always discernible and it's  nothing that will detract from the experience, it probably enhances it to be honest. 

Exclusive to this release is a new audio commentary from David Flint of and Adrian Smith from who give an insightful and fun track that properly assesses the film with the right amount of wit mixed with knowledgeable observation. They close out the commentary by describing the flick as "fun, light-weight, empty-headed, nonsense-cinema, and all the more fun for it", and I couldn't agree more.   

We also get a handful of archival extras beginning with the fifteen-minute Destination Warriors Island: The Making of Raw Force, with director Ed Murphy and cinematographer Frank Johnson. They seem like great guys and fondly recall their time making this one. They know what they made and don't have any illusions about this being anything other than a cheap piece of Filipino exploitation. 

We also get a five-minute audio interview with director Jim Wynorski conducted by Ryan Emerson of Vinegar Syndrome. It's a very brief interview but Wynorski is a character and always a great interview, telling of how he was brought on to re-edit the final film. Extras are finished up with a two-minute action-packed theatrical trailer 

Special Features:
- NEW! Commentary with David Flint and Adrian Smith
- Destination Warriors Island: The Making of Raw Force, with director Ed Murphy and cinematographer Frank Johnson (15 min) 
- Audio interview with finishing editor Jim Wynorski (5 min) 
- Original Theatrical Trailer (2 min) 

A supercharged slice of Filipino trash cinema that left me reeling with laughter and awe. Loaded with exquisite kung-fu nuttiness with no shortage of naked ladies. You get a lot of exploitation goodness in a short amount of time with zombie samurai, evil monks, women in cages and even man-eating piranhas. The only thing missing would a rubber monster raping the women in cages!  Quite a fun watch, a non-stop ride of delirious action, violence and naked women. This Blu-ray from 101 Films comes highly recommended if you love trashy cult cinema, and that it has an exclusive commentary as well as the archival extras gives it a definite edge over the Vinegar Syndrome release. 
More screenshots from the Blu-ray: