Whenever I hit a milestone review, as in every 50 or on The Film Dump’s birthday, I like to review a special film. More often than not special actually means “special”. Like that bus that drove you to school. Kung Fu Cannibals, known as Raw Force in some parts of the world, is that bus. This wasn’t the film I had planned originally, but Matt over as Cinemageddon kinda forced me to watch it because he’s a dick like that. He insisted it was better than Miami Connection. This was despite me insisting that no film is better than Miami Connection. Anyway, follow the link for the review.
In Kung Fu Cannibals some ne’er do wellers, led by budget store Hitler, are kidnapping random Asian girls and trading them with some monk types for jade stones on Warrior’s Island. Meanwhile some holiday makers have just gone on a cruise from the US to China on what appears to be something barely bigger than a tugboat with Cameron Mitchell at the helm. All the main characters are on the boat. Some of them know each other. Some get to know each other whilst on the boat. Many of the ladies take their clothes off. One of the guys likes a girl on the boat but she’s married so they’re conflicted or something. Some stuff happens and then so does zombie ninjas and samurais and shit.
Yeah… it’s that sort of film. Turns out the monks on the island want the girls to eat because it gives them the power they need to revive ancient disgraced warriors for their own private army because reasons. Warrior’s island is listed as a holiday destination by the way. There’s even a travel brochure seen multiple times in the film. When the Hitler guy and his comrades find out that Cameron Mitchell is bringing some holiday makers to the island he tries his best to stop them… kind of making him the protagonist for a while. I mean, they shouldn’t go there. It’s dangerous. There’s zombie warriors there. So, he’s kinda doing them a service. Granted, he does this by murdering as many of the people on the boat as he can before setting up some poorly synced super imposed fire effects, but that’s still doing them a solid in my book.
In fact, until Hitler guy attacks them and kidnaps one of the girls the holiday makers have zero reason to go there as far as the story is concerned. Chances are, if they were left alone, they would have just sailed up to the island, got a tan, and gone home. Or if they hadn’t had spent the first hour partying and getting up to hijinks they could have gotten tot he island sooner, uncovered the evil and spent the film trying to escape. Would have spared us the sight of super imposed flames passing in front of the structure they’re meant to be burning at least. What this does all mean though is that we get a nice concentrated 30-ish minutes of bat shit insanity to cap the film off with. You have to get through an hour of early 80s boobs to get there though. Truly a struggle for us all.
Camille Keaton from I Spit On Your Grave makes a tiny cameo in this as a girl who’s boyfriend can’t get her jeans off. It is entirely pointless. As is much of this film. Line delivery is as staccato as it comes. Dialogue often fails to make much resembling sense. Often it’s just weird, such as this following exchange during a tugboat party:
Religious Freak: Tell me about the centerfold you’re doing.
Betty: The centerfold? Well, it’s really not for positive sure yet. Well, we still have to…
Religious Freak: [interrupting her] Why are you doing it? For the money?
Betty: Well, like I said, I don’t even know if I…
Religious Freak: [interrupting her again] For the publicity?
Betty: Well, sure, I guess you could say that I…
Religious Freak: [interrupting her yet again] You’re not doing it for the publicity. I know why you’re doing it.
Betty: Why am I doing it then?
Religious Freak: For the devil.
Betty: The devil?
Religious Freak: Yeah. Look around this place. It’s the devil’s den.
Betty: [chuckles] Are you joking?
Religious Freak: [seriously] No Betty, the devil’s no joke.
As you may be able to guess from a film that features zombie warriors, coupled with the fact that one character is just called “Religious Freak” this entire exchange of dialogue has nothing to do with anything. I don’t think we even see that guy again. It’s hard to tell. A large portion of Kung Fu Cannibals kinda passed me by like a weird fever dream. I did like the part where the main guy, who does Judo, just straight up starts killing people like it ain’t no thang. Another character hurts his ankle by drop kicking a passing truck. To the film and actor’s credit, he does remember to limp for the rest of the film. And on the right foot too, which puts this display of limping one step above that seen in Transmorphers 2.
This film is a hard one to rate. On the one hand it’s trashy, insane and full of bizarre moments. It’s also pretty tedious for much of the first hour as it randomly flits between events and, as you may have guessed, made with all the competence and artistic vision of a space station made by an blind monkey. What we have is one of those films that, like Slugs, sits at that point in the 80s where it was still pretty much the 70s. It revels in the sort of excessiveness that typified 70 shock cinema but does so in a way that still manages to feel quite tame. There’s violence, for sure, but no real gore effect moments to make them memorable. There’s also an oddly large number of characters whose death involves coughing up bright red blood whilst being choked. I get the feeling the director (Edward D Murphy) liked his little blood packs so much he let everyone have a go.
By the way, that director’s credits are so grand that on his IMDB page he’s is mostly known for Security guard and Liquor Cop #1 in Three Men & A Baby and Goodfellas respectively over the two film’s he wrote and directed. So yeah, this film isn’t made with a particularly high calibur of crew. Belittling a director’s work aside, Kung Fu Cannibals is actually pretty enjoyable, on the whole. It’s oddness, weird characters and nonsensical plot will be enough to carry you through the first hour so you can reach the nirvana of concentrated Giallo trash that is the film’s final act. And no, it is nowhere near as good as Miami Connection. No film is.