Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Kung Fu Cannibals (1982)

aka Raw Force

Visit beautiful Warrior's Island. Once a place disgraced martial artists visited to commit suicide, it is now mainly populated by a small group of monks with peculiar dietary habits. They only eat the flesh of attractive young women. Is it a religious thing? The taste? Scientists' opinions are divided.

Obviously, when you are living on a remote island, the opportunities to buy and sell pre-packaged human flesh are scarce. To solve this problem, the monks have made a deal with a guy sporting Adolf Hitler's facial hair and an accent that unhappily hovers between fake German and fake French, trading jade from their jade mines against pseudo-Hitler's weekly haul of kidnapped prostitutes. All goes well until disaster strikes the peaceful cannibal/Nazi community.

A cruise ship full of American weekend martial artists and women fond of dropping their clothes without any provocation, captained by Cameron Mitchell (for once conscious and awake during the shoot), has set sail/motor for Warrior's Island.

At first, mock-Hitler tries to just warn them away, but rambling warnings by randomly appearing strangers not to visit the island don't cut it with these Americans.

Next, some not so subtle attacks by the accented one's henchpeople aren't too successful either. Turns out that martial artists are quite fond of using their martial arts on people trying to kill them.

A surprise attack on the cruise ship on the high seas is a bit more effective. The ship explodes marvellously, and only a handful of the Americans survive. Alas, their life boats are carrying them directly to the island they weren't supposed to go to.

Now, only the zombiefied (and quite sprightly) remains of the warriors who gave Warrior's Island its name can protect the future of monkly flesh-eating and the Nazi jade trade.

Well, Kung Fu Zombies is certainly something. You might be as surprised as I was to learn that it's not something good, well-filmed and deeply moving, but a silly action film/sex comedy/random crap abomination directed by the guy who played a certain "Captain" in Mad Doctor of Blood Island and has numerous stints in exciting sounding roles like "Prospective Male Juror" and "Parole Board Member" on Law & Order - at least if you are willing to believe the IMDB.

For a bit-playing actor, Murphy isn't too bad a director. At least his film (which, as you might have guessed, is a US/Filipino co-production) is vaguely coherent and surprisingly enough not too boring, both things I have learned not to take as a given in films with utterly fantastic titles (like this one has when it is not shown under a terrible generic one). I even found myself laughing about the comedic bits from time to time. Not at the scenes that were supposed to be funny, of course, but oh well.

Most of the film plays out as if it were the product of a bet concerning the amount of stupid shit (and breasts, obviously) you can or cannot throw into one script. I certainly can't argue that a mix of bad martial arts, cannibalistic monks, Nazi gangsters (or whatever they are supposed to be), Cameron Mitchell and martial arts zombies is something of a bad movie dream come true.

But even beyond the power of its pure, conceptional exploitation idiocy, this film has a lot to recommend it. First and foremost, there's a surprising amount of stuff happening in it. While talking about plot progression or character development like films sane people watch are rumoured to have would just be a lie, there's always some stupid and absurd crap going on to keep the enchanted viewer awake. That nothing of what's happening on screen makes much sense or is any good doesn't reduce the film's entertainment value at all. At least, Murphy is trying very hard to present us with the things his film's titles promise. I'll just ignore the fact that the cannibals don't do any kung fu, because kung fu zombies are much better anyway.

On a technical level, most people would call the film atrocious, I suppose, but apart from a ghastly/wonderful amount of continuity errors, there's nothing anybody in the target group of the movie should have any problems with. Of course, the zombie make-up only consists of blue paint, of course, the exploding ship looks utterly hilarious, of course, nobody on screen (apart from Cameron Mitchell, absurdly enough) can or does act, of course, the fight choreography is no such thing. But, compared to the siren song of words like "cannibal monk" or "kung fu zombie", all these are only silent whispers of the disagreeable.

Let me repeat: Cameron Mitchell is awake (and unfunny comic relief)! Cannibal monks! Kung fu zombies! Pretend-Hitler!


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