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    Ian Jane
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  • Force: Five



    Released by: Scorpion Releasing
    Released on: February 11th, 2014.
    Director: Robert Clouse
    Cast: Richard Norton, Joe Lewis, Master Bon Soo Han, Sonny Barnes, Benny Urquidez
    Year: 1981
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Robert Clouse, the man best known for directing Bruce Lee in Enter The Dragon, helms this 1981 martial arts action extravaganza headlined by “World Heavyweight Karate Champion” Joe Lewis, who two years prior had starred in Jaguar Lives!

    The plot is pretty straightforward. Senator Forrester (Peter MacLean, the guy who played the Sheriff in Squirm!) is concerned about his daughter, an innocent young thing who has somehow managed to get herself mixed up with a karate cult lead by Reverend Rhee (Master Bong Soo Han). He teaches his followers deadly martial arts and in turn, they more or less do his bidding. At any rate, Forrester realizes the dangers inherent in this situation and he knows that there's only one man he can turn to: Jim Martin (Lewis). Jim, being the patriotic type, accepts the mission but knows he cannot go this alone. He sets about gathering together four more accomplices: a giant black dude named Lockjaw (Sonny Barnes, who popped up in Gymkata, also directed by Clouse), a small and squinty Spanish guy who does a lot of backflips named Billy Ortega (Benny Urquidez), a sexy long-legged blonde with an aversion to braziers named Laurie (Pam Huntington), and a bearded Australian fellow named Ezekiel (Richard Norton).

    Together, these mighty warriors are Force: Five and they use a helicopter to infiltrate Rhee's compound. He initially welcomes them but of course, as they set out trying to find Forrester's daughter Rhee becomes wise to their plan and before you know it there are giant bulls running around the underground compound killing people and Martin and his associates are kicking all of Rhee's cronies in their stupid crony faces!

    While the middle of the film slows down a little bit, Force: Five otherwise moves at a pretty quick pace and manages to pack a whole lot of martial arts action (some of which is of questionable legitimacy…. I'm looking at you, Pam 'choppy editing can't help me' Huntington!) into its ninety-six minute running time. The violence never gets too harsh, though there are a few minor gore scenes, but it is reasonably constant, particularly during the last twenty minutes or the movie. Bonus points for the completely bizarre inclusion of a large bull that chases Rhee's opponents through an underground lair. Why exactly Rhee keeps a giant bull down there is anyone's guess as outside of chasing down his opponents, it serves no other logical purpose.

    The characters are fun. Bong Soo Han is channeling Mr. Han from Enter The Dragon for the most part and Joe Lewis has very little range but his character nevertheless is able to charm the ladies and successfully fool a lot of people throughout the film. The supporting team has sort of a United Colors Of Benetton thing going on in that we get a Spanish guy, a black guy, an Australian and, gasp, a woman. It's not nearly as progressive as it sounds and the token Asian remains a bad guy here. Huntington shows little to no martial arts experience, the jump cuts that try to make her look fast and deadly when she fights people are obvious but the rest of the guys show some decent moves.

    All of this is wrapped up with some great use of color, some quirky sets and a genuinely cool and rousing score. It never successfully convinces us of any danger or impending doom but as hokey and as goofy as it all is, the movie is definitely a lot of brainless fun.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Force: Five looks pretty impressive on this DVD, presented in 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen. Colors are really nice here, quite bright and well defined without looking to have been artificially boosted. Some scenes look a little soft in that way early eighties films can but outside of those instances detail looks about as good as standard definition is likely going to offer. The image is also very clean, showing very little in the way of print damage, dirt or debris. All in all, a very solid transfer.

    The only audio option on the disc is an English language Dolby Digital Mono track, there are no alternate language versions or subtitles/closed captioning options of any kind provided. Again, the quality here is quite good. Dialogue stays crisp and clear and the levels are nicely balanced. There are no problems to note with any hiss or distortion - it sounds fine.

    Outside of a trailer for the feature, the only other extra is a Scorpion Releasing trailer reel that features some fun spots for other titles available now or soon from the company. Static menus and chapter stops are also provided.

    The Final Word:

    Force: Five is a whole lot of fun, a goofy mix of martial arts insanity and action set against a colorful backdrop with a quirky cast of characters and a killer score. It's quickly paced, fairly dumb and completely awesome. Scorpion's DVD debut is short on extras but it does look and sound very good. This is a really enjoyable disc.

























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