[For the next two weeks, Alec will be covering select films from the New York Asian Film Festival. For complete coverage of the festival, make sure to check out the page for the tag “NYAFF11.” Keep watching throughout the weeks as we bring you more reviews!]
My second review of NYAFF 2011 is also not an Asian film in the traditional sense. When the excellent documentary Machete Maidens Unleashed! was screened at the festival, it was followed up (keeping the exploitation tradition alive) by a screening of the 1982 film Raw Force. Now, for a film to measure up to Machete Maidens Unleashed!, it must be the epitome of the Filipino exploitation film. Does Raw Force accomplish this task? Well…
It is difficult to overstate just how excellent Raw Force is. If you have ever wanted to see the perfect example of an exploitation film, you need to look no further. The film has everything you want. Because of that, this review pretty much begins and ends on that statement. However, I want to look a little bit more deeply at some of the specifics of the film, just so I can impress upon you the wonder of this film.
Acting: As you might expect, the film does not really have acting. You see the monk up there on the far left? He is the only one who even pretends to act in the entire 80+ minutes. Everyone else flat out sucks, but there is a level of self-awareness to it. Some of the characters are incredibly over the top by design that watching them and listening to their lines is just a pleasure. It is impossible to say whether or not the actors can deliver their lines well, because the entire film appears to have been dubbed several times. Although this isn’t directly related to acting, it is interesting to note that there are numerous occasions in the film where the characters will be making noises (usually screaming) even if the actors’ mouths aren’t moving. The fact that these noises are terrible only helps the film.
Drugs: It has them. This is not a film about drugs, but they are there, because this wouldn’t be a very good exploitation film without every possible lurid material being exploited.
Violence: Here’s the good stuff. The film constantly inundates the viewer with punches, kicks, bullets, explosions, and everything else you could want from this kind of film. The fight choreography is actually quite good, which is important given how much of it there is. Characters flip through the air, jump from one thing to the next, and generally act in a way that could only be in a film like this. Included in these scenes are some awesome stunts which likely hurt the actors pretty badly, including someone literally being thrown off of a cliff. Aside from all that, there is certainly a good amount of blood, although it rarely appears in the hand-to-hand fight scenes.
Nudity: Almost as important as the violence is the nudity, and there is plenty of it. Within sixty seconds of the film’s opening there is a mass removal of women’s clothing. Everyone seems to be having sex with everybody else, and even when there is no real reason for nudity to be in a scene, it is probably there anyway. Raw Force actually goes beyond some of its earlier exploitation brethren by showing occasional shots of pubic hair, something that was expressly forbidden in the earlier years. This adds pretty much nothing to the film, but is interesting regardless. My favorite moment of nudity involves a naked dancer who continues dancing as an enormous fight happens around her.
I could go on and on about the film, but by now you will have already made up your mind. If you don’t like fun, you won’t like this movie. It does not fulfill anything but the most primal desires, and you will not finish the movie with philosophical discussions on the nature of love, but that doesn’t matter. Raw Force simply must be watched, because it is the quintessential Filipino exploitation experience.
If you are able to watch Machete Maidens Unleashed! and Raw Force back to back, I implore you to do so. Each of the films is fantastic in in their own rights, but as a combination they become something even more awesome. Go do it. Right now. You will not regret it.