RAW FORCE (1982) Reviews and overview

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[Total: 31   Average: 2.6/5]

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‘One blow! The deathblow!’

Raw Force is a 1982 American-Filipino action comedy horror feature film written and directed by Edward D. Murphy (Heated Vengeance). Co-executive producer Lawrence ‘Larry’ Woolner was an exploitation movie veteran, having founded production and distribution company Dimension Pictures (The Devil’s Wedding Night; Werewolf Woman; Kingdom of the Spiders) in 1970. The concept of the movie was Woolner’s suggestion and Murphy’s original title was Kung Fu Cannibals

The movie stars Cameron Mitchell (Nightmare in Wax; The Toolbox Murders; Cataclysm), Geoff Binney (Hot Potato), Jillian Kesner (Beverly Hills Vamp; Moon in Scorpio; Trick or Treats; Evil Town), John Dresden, Jennifer Holmes (The Demon) and Hope Holiday. Camille Keaton (I Spit on Your Grave) makes a brief appearance during the party scenes. Filipino genre-regular Vic Diaz (Vampire Hookers; The Thirsty Dead; Daughters of Satan) is one of the cannibalistic monks and Jewel Shepard (Slasher.com; Return of the Living Dead) plays one of the drunken partygoers.

The original edit of the movie was 105 minutes and Lawrence Woolner asked future director Jim Wynorski to edit it for better pacing. He also created the film’s trailer and TV spot (both of which focus purely on martial arts action). In September 2020, Wynorski told MOVIES and MANIA: ”

“There was some tremendous over-acting in some scenes (i.e. a man doing that old Lou Costello bit of starting out laughing then switching to crying, a girl/girl conversation about shopping) and some talky bits that just slowed down the pace. I was working for Larry Woolner and he gave me carte blanche to remove anything that offended.  It took me two days. I did it mostly because of the Woolner legacy – such as it is. I never thought Raw Force would become a minor cult classic.”

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Plot:

Welcome to Warrior’s Island, the 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…

Blu-ray release:

On October 7th 2014, Vinegar Syndrome released Raw Force as a Blu-ray + DVD combo

Restored from 35mm camera negative
“Destination: Warriors Island” (The Making of Raw Force) with director Edward D. Murphy and cinematographer Frank Johnson
Audio interview w/ Finishing Editor Jim Wynorski
Original theatrical trailer

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 Buy Blu-ray: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“Asian martial artist Rey Malonzo is the only guy in the film who can fight, which just makes all of the other actors look bad […] The scenes on the cruise ship are excruciatingly painful to watch, and the dialog is atrocious. Thankfully, things become more serious when our band of heroes finally reaches Warrior Island, but the action scenes are still pretty pitiful.” Alex in Wonderland

“This is a delirious cocktail of everything you want to watch while at the drive-in or inebriated in the middle of the night: sex, chop sockery, zombie gore, Nazis, mayhem, more sex, more gore, bad kung fu and daring airplane hijinks […] I can’t overemphasize how much fun this movie is.” B&S About Movies

” …few features match the sheer oddity of Raw Force, which casually submits cannibalism, kung fu, bare breasts, and broken bones, whipping up a cinematic adventure that’s plagued with creative problems but remains undeniably amusing for those who appreciate bottom-shelf extravaganzas. It’s big, dumb, and loud, but remarkably enchanting during its pursuit of escapism, winning over viewers one sluggish crescent kick and blouse removal at a time.” Blu-ray.com

“So yeah, you’ve got kung-fu, zombies, nudity, gunfights and a bad guy with a Hitler moustache and a twitch in his eye. Nothing is taken seriously so it’s a hell of a lot of fun with very little downtime. Bonkers from start to finish, it’s perfect video weekend fodder.” Blueprint: Review

“There’s never a dull moment in 1982’s Raw Force. Although it’s not exactly a crowning achievement on a technical level – the script, blocking, acting, effects and ADR all leave a lot to be desired – I’ll be damned if it’s not one of the more entertaining movies I’ve watched recently.” Broke Horror Fan

“Boobs, blood and great martial arts scenes, Raw Force is genuine exploitation brilliance from beginning to end. The acting and the dialogue are so bad it hurts, and yet there’s a tongue-in-cheek knowingness about it that you’ll appreciate.” Digital Retribution

“Is it me or is this film one of the best trashy kung-fu zombie action movies ever? I think it’s great, and it’s a rare example of a low-budget movie with convoluted video box art where everything on the cover actually is in the movie.” Eat My Brains

Raw Force is an insane and insanely fun odyssey of a film, from its jade smuggling, to the madcap boat scenes, the sojourn in Manila, to the final showdown between the cannibal monks and the kung-fu zombies, the terrible dubbing, the hilariously bad fight/violence choreography, and the fact that the movie has no idea whether or not it’s serious or camp…” Not This Time, Nayland Smith

“Raw Force is top shelf lunacy, a movie that demands to be seen; even though a film’s quality is intrinsic, I’m guessing this one is even better with a crowd, where the delirious silliness would be infectious.” Oh, the Horror!

“The fighting is nothing spectacular; it is well performed but shot in an unremarkable way. There isn’t much gore and the zombie makeup mostly consists of the color blue. Taken in its separate parts, Raw Force looks like a colossal failure but it begins to pile on so many ludicrous turns and characters, that eventually it topples over into a delightful train wreck of a film […] Very highly recommended, find it and watch it as soon as you can.” Outpost Zeta

“It’s a Kung-Fu/T&A/Zombie/Women in Prison/Cannibal hybrid made on the cheap in the Philippines. It sounds like a recipe for exploitation nirvana, yet it fails to fully satisfy. The reason: There are just too many ingredients in this stew. The filmmakers stuffed as many exploitation elements in the film as they could, and the effect is not dissimilar to seeing clowns jammed into a car in a circus. It just feels lame.” Really Awful Movies

“Don’t go into this one expecting a whole lot of attention to detail, because there are logic gaps the size of Texas in here and continuity errors aplenty, but if you can look past that type of thing and just enjoy this one for the constant ride of sex, violence and silliness that it provides you’re pretty much guaranteeda good time at the movies.” Rock! Shock! Pop!

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” …the script is corny and dumb. Way too much time is spent on the set-up featuring a lot of stale conversations between wooden characters and comic sidelights that are silly and uninspired. The action itself is poorly captured and not very exciting while lacking in blood or realistic-looking special effects.” Scopophilia

“… the movie is cheesy, but never corny, the dialogue doesn’t make you want to kill yourself, the characters aren’t all bastards, the violence is visceral, the music is appropriate to the events and there’s a lot of action beats. Even when there isn’t a lot of action going on, the screen is still lit up by the antics of the tourists or the intense close-up of a naked woman…” Varied Celluloid

“The action takes over in the final act with all kinds of crazy shit going down including kung-fu fights between our heroes and zombie warriors, cackling monks, a villain with a Hitler moustache, piranhas, explosions, and more. If you are a b-movie fan, you will find something appealing in this flick whether you are into nudity, cheesy dialogue, goofy martial arts, or just plain silliness.” The Video Graveyard

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1982 - Raw Force (VHS)

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Cast and characters:

Cameron Mitchell … Captain Harry Dodds
Geoffrey Binney … Mike O’Malley (as Geoff Binney)
Hope Holiday … Hazel Buck
Jillian Kesner … Cookie Winchell (as Jillian Kessner)
John Dresden … ‘Big’ John Taylor
Jennifer Holmes … Ann Davis, Lloyd’s wife
Rey Malonzo … Go Chin (as Rey King)
Carla Reynolds … Eileen Fox
Carl Anthony … Lloyd Davis, Ann’s husband
John Locke … Gary Schwartz
Mark Tanous … Cooper, leading henchman
Ralph Lombardi … Thomas Speer
Chanda Romero … Mayloo, cathouse hostess
Camille Keaton … Girl in Toilet
Lin Lin Li … Gun Moll (as Maggie Lee)
Garry McClintic … Steve Polanski, a third-grade teacher
John Rosselli … Male Stripper
Joe Pagliuso … Milt
Dennis Edwards … Man in Toilet (as Robert Dennis)
Janelle Pransky … Girl With Balloons
Tony Oliver … Bill
Robert MacKenzie … Clyde
Steve Elmer … Religious Freak
Jewel Shepard … Drunk Sexpot
Michael Paul Stone … Bartender (as Michael P. Stone)
Judi Brooks … Girl With Flower Tattoo
Edward Talbot ‘Chip’ Matthews … Passenger
Kurek Ashley … Drunk With Cake
Brad Barnes … Passenger
Gerry Bailey … Hood
Don Gordon Bell … Hood (Zombie of Mushashi) (as Don Gordon)
Chip Westley … Hood
Bob Campbell … Hood
Willy Schober … Hood
Maurizio Murano … Hood
Roger Capilitan … Hood
Phil Guerrero … Hood
Vic Diaz … Monk
Mike Cohen … Monk
Binney Villanueva … Monk
Bayani Balingit … Monk
Louie Florentino … Monk
Frank Aguila … Monk
Geoff Wood … Corpse
Tony Beso … Corpse
Fred Belgica … Corpse
Jimmy Navarro … Corpse
Ely Refuerzo … Corpse
Nilo Fortez … Corpse
Jess Bonzo … Corpse
Rolly Tan … Corpse
Anna Torino … Hooker
Evelyn Beso … Hooker
Violeta Beso … Hooker
Vicky Abad … Hooker
Baby Serrano … Hooker
Zenaida Luciano … Hooker
Nannette Caragay … Hooker
May Bacosa … Hooker
Sonia Cervantes … Hooker
Fred Strong … Crewman
George Gyenes … Crewman
Jay Bumpus … Crewman
Peter Schultz … Crewman
Roger Searcy … Crewman
Mary Miller … Girl In Cabin
Britt Helfer … Girl In Cabin
Gary Arturo Flossmann … Bar Patron (uncredited)

Technical details:

86 minutes

Fun Facts:

Writer-director Edward D. Murphy was right there at the start of American-Filipino co-productions and played the ship’s captain in Mad Doctor of Blood Island (1968).

  

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