Never trust brochures. Don’t open them, and if you do open one, don’t read it. If you see one lying in the street, just leave it there to be run over. Why this hatred and distrust of brochures? Let me tell you about Mike from the Burbank Karate Club. He read the brochure for this place called Warrior’s Island, which claimed to be where “monks raise dead martial artists from the grave.” What the brochure failed to add is that the only reason these monks have this power is because they lock nude women up in bamboo cages, slather them in BBQ sauce, and eat them. It also neglected to mention that the women come from a man with a Hitler mustache who sells them in exchange for wicker baskets full of “uncut, AA-grade” jade.
But back to Mike and how his belief in brochures ensnared him and his fellow karate clubmates in a web of cannibalism, kung fu, and kung fu zombies. It’s a story for the ages. A story depicted in the film Raw Force, one that could only exist here, in the Midnight Void…
Meet the Burbank Karate Club, or the Burbank Kung Fu Club, it kinda depends on who you’re asking. Thanks to Mike, they’ve hopped aboard an oceanic deathtrap known as The Star of Los Angeles. Its destination: Warrior’s Island. Steering this doomed vessel is Cameron Mitchell as the drunken, homophobic Captain Harry Dobbs. I suspect he went full method for the role. It’s also worth noting that he looks exactly like a cross between Tony Curtis and a stick of beef jerky. This is something that will eventually happen to all of us.
Anyway, before they reach the island of cannibals and undead karate experts, they drop by the Philippines to enjoy some of the local flavor. Namely bare-knuckle kickboxing matches, live sex shows, and a visit to a place known as The Palace of 1,001 Pleasures. Mike’s chosen pleasure is, apparently, showing the ladies his Warrior’s Island brochure. This leads to trouble when Hitler Mustache and his henchman, Ponytail Bandana, arrive looking for the monks’ next meal.
You see, they like to keep their whole exchanging women for uncut, AA-grade jade thing a secret. So after they see friggin’ Mike flaunting his brochure, they stop by the local strip club and pull a knife on Cameron Mitchell while he’s at the urinal. Like most scenes in Raw Force, it ends with the Burbank Karate and/or Kung Fu Club doing karate and/or kung fu.
Yet here, it’s not the martial arts that deserve your praise, but the Filipina stripper who never once stops grinding atop her dingy stage. Seemingly unfazed by the violence around her, this woman showcases a dedication to one’s craft that you rarely see these days. Even when we step outside the bar to see a man deliver a flying kick to the side of Ponytail Bandana’s truck — sending him crashing into a cage of ducks — my mind was still on that lone dancer.
Right now you’re probably thinking “This is where Raw Force reaches its peak, it’s all downhill from here.” But I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong, because what follows is not only this film’s finest sequence, but possibly the finest sequence ever committed to film. Because once everybody gets back aboard the ill-fated Star of Los Angeles, it’s time for a lobster chop suey and french fried squid catered birthday party for Steve. You know Steve, he teaches third grade. Or maybe you don’t, since we’ve never seen him before — and we won’t see him again — but that doesn’t stop Raw Force from spending nearly twenty minutes celebrating his blessed thirtieth year of life.
And what a celebration it is.
SWAT Team member Cookie Winchell is interrogated by a male stripper from Marina Del Rey. He’s the star attraction at The Stallion Galleon, where famous actresses shove hundred dollar bills down his “jock.” He also thinks there are too many weirdos at the party. We meet Betty, who is told that she’s not doing her upcoming centerfold for “money or publicity, but for the devil.” The bartender smashes ice blocks with his head; a forklift operator brags about his groupies; a woman shoves birthday cake into her mouth and shouts “fetishes!”
But like every party, the fun’s gotta end eventually, and here that happens when Ponytail Bandana and a bunch of goons in greasepaint and crop tops invade the ship in a last-ditch effort to keep them from reaching Warrior’s Island. Karate and kung fu ensue, and The Star of Los Angeles goes down in flames, with the survivors taking to a lifeboat. A lifeboat that drifts directly to Warrior’s Island.
We know it’s Warrior’s Island because Cameron Mitchell says “This must be the place where they bury the goddamn kung fu fighters.” Also due to the cannibalistic monks, the army of zombie martial artists, and Hitler Mustache running around with a bazooka. So yeah, thanks Mike. We can only hope he learned a harsh lesson in trusting brochures.
Most of all, I hope you learned a lesson or two as well. I hope you learned that at The Stallion Galleon famous actresses will shove hundred dollar bills down your jock, and that the devil is behind each and every centerfold. But if you learned anything from Raw Force, let it be that you never, ever stop grinding your naked ass — no matter how much the world might kung fu and karate around you. Because here in the Midnight Void we never stop grinding, and in this palace, the pleasures aren’t limited to a mere 1,001… they’re endless.