I recently attended a 48 hour horror movie marathon. While I did not attend the full time, I made sure I was there for two fantastic movies from the eighties. The pièce de résistance was Raw Force, a “virtual smorgasbord of over the top sleaze” and a “quintessential piece of early 80’s sleaze”.
The fun started just before midnight with a movie called Night Train To Terror. The best part of this movie was anything involving the “rock band” and their incredible music video, “Everybody But You”. I dare you to watch that video and get that song out of your head (I also defy you to explain why the lead singer in a “rock” band is breakdancing).
The highlight of the evening was Raw Force, also known as Kung Fu Cannibals (which sounds like a winning combination if you were playing a game of Smash Up). The gist of Raw Force is that a group of martial art students are heading to an island filled with ghosts of dishonored martial artists. The front cover promises that we’ll get to experience “One Blow! The Deathblow!”. How awesome does that sound?
Oh, we are in for a treat with this one. Spoilers ahead, but don’t worry, this is a movie that needs to be be watched to get the full effect. Featuring zombies, cannibals, gore, nudity, martial arts and a gang lead by a Hitler lookalike sporting glasses, there is no possible way we’re going to be able to cover this in just seven scenes.
And here comes that Hitler lookalike. He is piloting a plane. The rest of his gang sweats away in the cargo hold while watching over the captive women, who are soon to be handed over to the martial arts caretakers on the island below. At the 3:11 mark, the Hitler lookalike demands his gang “help” the ladies undress while the monk-like martial artists look on approvingly. That didn’t take long.
BONUS SCENE: Just for context, I thought it was imperative you understand who these martial artists are that are in charge of the island. More like robed monks. Immediately before this shot, a woman is being disrobed, so this is that approving look I mentioned. I’m not sure if this guy is showing terror or approving delight at the naked female form before him. Prepare for more ambiguous acting as we move forward.
We next meet Taylor, Schwartz and O’Malley from the Burbank Karate Club who will be on the cruise. This is no Love Boat. No Captain Steubing and certainly no Julie welcoming passengers aboard. This vessel hardly even looks seaworthy. But the party is in full force on the deck. Plenty of short tight briefs on the men and lots of ladies in bikinis.
Going ashore on this boat is nothing like the Love Boat and the bar is certainly not in Puerto Vallarta. The only activity you can sign up for if you take this cruise is fisticuffs. The shore leave seems to be an excuse for the gang to show up again and get into a bar room brawl between our mustachioed heroes and the evil villains. And putting the brawl in a bar is a perfect excuse for naked dancers and a funky soundtrack. This movie is not skimping on the nudity, that’s for sure. It is, however, skimping heavily on logic and acting chops.
BONUS SCENE: I hate relegating what was perhaps the finest scene in the movie to a bonus scene, but I’m working off a bad print and the screen capture isn’t terrific. What you need to imagine here is one of our heroes from the Burbank Karate Club launching himself over a wall and delivering a flying dropkick to a truck window. Yes, this genius decides that the best way to stop a speeding vehicle is flying through the air to kick the driver side window. Brilliant!
I bet you are still waiting for that “One Blow! The Deathblow!” aren’t you? Well, you are going to have to wait a little while longer. The action returns to the boat in a series of vignettes that showcase the Burbank Karate Club and the rest of the passengers in a number of fun party scenes and a few very awkward romantic scenes.
The boat is hijacked by pirates looking eerily similar to the Village People. One of the passengers is abducted. The boat is set afire and sinks. Luckily, ALL of the passengers manage to escape on one slightly leaky life raft. This was either a disaster on the scale of the Titanic or this was not a heavily booked cruise. Or perhaps they just didn’t feel like paying extras any more than they had to. Luckily, the life raft drifts right onto the misty shores of the very island they were hoping to visit.
Once on the island, the action kicks into high gear. We’ve got karate fights. We’ve got machine gun fire. We’ve got chase scene after chase scene. And oh yes, this is a horror movie. Clearly someone reminded the director because the zombies finally put in an appearance. And it quickly becomes apparent why these dead martial arts masters have been exiled to this island. They are incredibly inept. They are promptly kicked into submission by the Burbank Karate Club.
Don’t you love a happy ending? We still have a few dangling story lines and a few bad guys left alive on the island. This seems like the perfect time for “One Blow! The Deathblow!” Surely that is the way to wrap this whole thing up neatly. Nope, not yet. First, we get a series of improbable explosions. Then we find out that the Burbank Karate Club has a pilot in their midst. So they all hop in the plane and pray that they can get it up (which seems pretty likely given that everyone on the plane is hooking up and making out before clearing 1000 feet.)
And that “One Blow! The Deathblow!”? Maybe in the sequel, because the director was VERY optimistic.
Despite this article being nothing but spoilers, you still need to check this out for yourself
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