Cast: Cameron Mitchell, Geoff Binney, Jillian Kessner
I like a good steak like the next guy, though I also
admit that there
are times I like to sink my teeth into a gooey piece of cheese. When it
comes to movies, I admit I watch more than my share of cinematic
though I also enjoy good movies with good production values. Sometimes,
however, I like a movie that combines both competence and cheesiness. Raw
Force is one of those movies, a wonderful mix of the ludicrous
and decent. The decent comes with a few of the production values being
especially slick; in the opening, we see several shots of an airplane
the air from various angles, all of them well photographed. (The
of this movie is especially decent.) Adding the triumphant Walter
score, one starts to think that hey, here's a low budget movie that
like it will shape up to be able to stand beside the big boys. The
lands, and out comes the cargo - several young women, who mildly
when they get their clothes ripped off as they are hustled along. The
naked (one completely naked) women are put into a bamboo cave, where
are weighed by several cannibalistic monks, who intend to barbecue (not
boil or bake, it is stressed later on) the women for dinner. Yep, the
is strictly cheese, but hey, these bits of steak go well with the
found in this movie.
It's not just the premise of this movie that's cheese,
it's, well, just
about everything else. Yeah, I guess this movie could officially be
cheese, but quite often there's something slickly done. Sometimes it's
the other way around; take, for example, when the three men of the
Karate Club pull into the harbor where their cruise ship awaits to take
them on a several week long cruise for singles. When we first see the
ship, it looks gigantic, and we see QUEEN MARY written on the side.
When the ship pulls out to sea, we see that the ship has suddenly
both in length and the number of decks it has, and sports a spotty
job. Could it be that captain Cameron Mitchell has an ancient sea curse
on him, bringing gloom wherever he stumbles? Later on in the movie,
spill gasoline all over the ship and set it on fire. In some background
shots, we see the top parts of some giant flames. This looks good,
the camera shifts a little, and then suddenly those flames that were
over the top of the ship are suddenly launched into space, with a
flat bottom edge that was right on the edge of the objects the flames
previously peeking from behind. Slick cheese, that's what we have here.
Another thing funny about the fire on the ship is when
are near the camera, some odd looking flames shoot out from the bottom
of the screen, almost as if they were coming from gas jets. Enough
the flames for now, let's get on with the story. It concerns the
of those three men from the Burbank Karate Club, who are
from each other except for their names (Taylor, Schwartz, and O'Malley)
and the fact one of them has a mustache. Don't ask me which one. The
they are on takes them into the waters of Southeast Asia, and one of
stops is Warriors Island, where that opening scene took place. Warriors
Island is a place where disgraced warriors were buried, and
says that the monks on the island have the power to raise them from the
dead, should the situation warrant it. It's actually no rumor - early
the movie, we see one of these fresh looking (except for sickly green
undead warriors slice one of those women. But that subplot comes later
in the movie. It comes to the attention of a Dr. Speer, a German
guy with a Hitler mustache who was the one trading the fresh meat for
jade rock at the beginning of the movie, that the cruise is not going
pass by the island, but actually stop at it. Fearing that his illegal
may be jeopardized, he sends out his goons several times throughout the
movie to stop the cruise, not realizing that Cameron Mitchell acts so
in this movie, he'd probably bypass the island by accident. But Speer
realize that he's against the power of the Burbank Karate Club!
Of course, the various attacks on the crew and
passengers on the ship
(not just by Speer's goons) cues in the expected fight sequences.
the fights by themselves are among the movie's few disappointing
Oh, the scenes where the token Chinese crew member fights the various
are pretty good, mainly because it's clear that he's talented at
martial arts, leaping around and making lightning-fast moves. The fight
scenes with the other actors are another thing. Sometimes they are
in molasses-slow motion, robbing any last bit of excitement they might
have had. One martial arts move rips off the windshield scene from Good
Guys Wear Black, though the editing easily makes it apparent
the stuntman was never in any danger at all. The fight scene in the
and the fight scenes on the deck of the ship are so dark, it is
hard to tell who is who, and just what is going on. Maybe it's no
that in that bar fight, there are constant edits to the topless dancer
of the bar, who keeps jiggling away nonchalantly as bones are broken
This movie has a lot of breasts shown
throughout, both in extreme
close-up and in medium shots. Of course it's sleazy, and it's lots of
Credit the makers of this movie for giving a lot of variety in the
as with the scene where a naked girl on a bed repeatedly slams a gas
on the head on an especially thick-skulled creep. I think the same guy
was the one who, when he pulled down his pants, revealed a pair of
covered with red hearts. Yes, this movie has a number of attempts at
humor to offer us. There's one bad guy gets killed by a swirlie in a
the monks keep rolling their eyes and jump around and giggle a lot, and
the dialogue has such howlers as, "Holy smokes! Who the heck is he?",
ahead Cookie - you don't have to tell him you're a member of the L.A.
team", and "I feel so sick, I feel lousy."
The ship's bar might have to serve drinks in paper cups,
every minute of Raw Force serves us something savory,
it be slick or cheese. True, those fight scenes are overall
and I was surprised the craziness and energy didn't increase when they
actually reached the island, but it's still a very fun movie. In fact,
I am kind of surprised that it isn't better known after 18 years. I'm
surprised that after 18 years, they still haven't acted on the promise
they made at the end: "TO BE CONTINUED". C'mon, guys, take another
to Warriors Island!
UPDATE: I got this information from Gary Arturo
"I was an "extra" in Raw Force in the bar scene at
the bar in Manila [I was the tall, bearded white guy in the orange
"Not only were the drinks served in paper cups, it was actual alcohol.
Everybody was so drunk [I don't drink so was about the only sober one]
that continuity completely fell apart.
"The naked dancer is used so much because the director was trying to
make his own little blue movie of her and probably shoot hours of just
her dancing. I talked her into insisting on more money since she had
not been hired to dance naked....
"There was a Filipino AD who kept getting yelled at by the American
director since most of us thought the American guy was a teenager
making his first movie and took our director from the Filipino.
"Cameron Mitchell was nice to everybody but he defiantly liked his
"The bar itself was a real one in a very seedy [and dangerous] part of
the port of Manila.
"I was an American university student in Manila [my dad was an engineer
for the US Navy in the RP] and often got bit parts as a token American
in local movies.
"I never saw this movie until I found it online last year. It's working
Warriors Island, was what my pay slip said and I
never knew the real title and it wasn't on Cameron Mitchell's
filmography. Until I found it last year, I had no idea what the rest of
the movie was about.
"The "Asian" fighter in the bar was a relatively well-known Filipino,
as I recall, and most of the other guys were habitue's of films but I
remember this one guy who sat outside and read poetry with his
girlfriend between scenes."
Check for availability on Amazon.
Also: The High Crusade, Highway To Hell, Sinbad
Of The Seven Seas