Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Vinegar Syndrome - RAW FORCE on Blu-ray ""

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Vinegar Syndrome - RAW FORCE on Blu-ray

RAW FORCE (1982; Edward Murphy)
Director Edward Murphy's original treatment for RAW FORCE was titled "Kung Fu Zombies". That gives you an idea of what the movie is all about.
Four pals from the Burbank Karate Club (BKC) decide to take a little trip to a place known as Warriors Island. Actually, Warriors Island is just supposed to be a short detour from their party cruise, but the BKC boys end up stranded there after some pirates dressed like the Village People attack their ship. Warriors Island is notoriously known as a place where disgraced martial artists go. What the BKC finds is some monks (& evil monks at that) as well as some other less-than-pleasant company.
If you've ever seen the WTF classic MIAMI CONNECTION, that should give you some idea of what you're in for with this movie. Lots of odd story & dialogue choices, and odd acting/casting choices. This has a good deal more nudity than MC though, for what that's worth. Outside of the nudity, I was thinking that RAW FORCE is somewhere between MIAMI CONNECTION and BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (leaning much more my towards MC). There's also a bit of THE BIG BIRD CAGE or something there too. Not to say Jack Hill was a direct influence or anything, but the ladies, the nudity, the cages and the location give it that similar feeling. And let's talk about the nudity for a second. It's another thing that makes the movie a little odd. It's this very lingering, exploitative nudity that's often held on just a bit too long. The fifteen year old in me is saying, "What do you mean they hold on the nudity too long?! That's a bad thing??". Well, yes and no. It just feels like the scenes of nudity hold to the point where it becomes awkward. You are reminded every time that the movie is stopping down for like 30 seconds to hang out on this boob shot. It takes you out a little, but that being said, when you throw it into the mix with all the other oddball stuff in the movie, it adds to the overall WTF-ness of the thing for sure.
This movie first came to my attention in 2009 when the then Alamo Drafthouse Film Programmers (Zack Carlson & Lars Nilsen) brought it to Los Angeles as part of their aptly title Cinemapocalypse series. Zack Carlson wrote so eloquently about the film, I had to seek it out. Here's what he had to say at the time:
"Once this show is over, you’ll be tearing your eyes out of your head and setting them ablaze. Because you have NEVER seen such a brain-blasting bonesmasher as the epochal omegawave that is, was and always will be RAW fucking FORCE!!! If you think you’ve been entertained in the past, here is a white-hot scholarship to FUN SCHOOL!! Let’s open this sucker up and see what’s inside, goddammit. Blue-skinned undead samurai? Check! Cannibalistic rump-chasing monks? Yes sir!! Drunken kung-fu yacht party? To the max!!! Wall-eyed flesh-trading seaplane pilot with a Hitler moustache? Man ohhh MAN!!! In absolute honesty, all this is just the tip of the trashberg! Blowtorches blaze, teeth fly, bullets zing, dialogue is botched and cages full of virgins are sent to their heartless demise! So packed with action, you’ll have to blink every 3 seconds to keep your eyes from catching on fire! The legendary Cameron Mitchell (THE TOOLBOX MURDERS) semi-stars in this Filipino/American co-production that would have brought the world to its knees if it wasn’t 200,000 YEARS AHEAD OF ITS TIME! If you see just one movie in your entire life, it better be here, now, tonight: RAW FORCE! If you’re blind, deaf and comatose, only one film will STILL kick your ass through the wall: RAW FORCE!! Look, I don’t care if you’re reading this at a funeral...scream it out loud right now: RAAWWW FORRRCE!!!"

Special Features:
Not only did Vinegar Syndrome do a solid job with the transfer here, they even put together some extras!
--"Destination: Warriors Island" (15 mins) this retrospective interview piece features writer/Director Edward Murphy, cinematographer/producer and Frank Johnson. Murphy talks about his military experience and knocking around Hollywood for a few years before finding his way into making RAW FORCE. He and Frank Johnson discuss the casting, filming (in the Phillipines) and distribution of RAW FORCE. An entertaining little chat. See a clip from this supplement below.
--Jim Wynorski Audio interview (5 mins). A phone interview with Wynorski wherein he talks about how he came to be involved in re-editing RAW FORCE. As with all Wynorski stories, this one is a lot of fun.



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