Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Amazon Warrior (1997)

Directed by Dennis Devine
Starring JJ Rodgers, Jimmy Jerman, Chris Lydon, Al Spencer

"I don't know what they're doing in there. It sounds like it hurts."
"Well...maybe the first time."

Two blondes in loincloths and fur bras are on guard duty together. "We have to make sure nobody gets through", blonde #1 says. "Oh, like someone's going to crash through the amazon camp, here at the part of the forest that's the thickest and most impassable", the other one snorts. Meanwhile, they happen to be standing in the middle of a sunny, two-lane road. Such is the hyper-logic of Amazon Warrior, an amazing end of the world saga, filmed on a shoe-string in the California desert.

The blondes fail miserably at their task, and a gang of thugs in tunics and camouflage pants invade the amazon camp, killing everyone but the title character, who is still a child, and her mom, who are busy down at the lake, bathing topless and fighting off what looks like a tire iron covered in seaweed, but is actually some kind of post-apoc monster.

Flash forward to the present. Future present, I mean. Tara (Rodgers- kind of a metal-chick version of Linda Blair), the Amazon warrior, now the last of her kind (how stupid could those thugs be, to kill off all the fuckin' women?), is all grown-up. Or, as all-grown up as 22 will get you.

Some dirty little kid finds her dozing under a makeshift canopy, and tells her that King Barelli (of the pasta kingdom?) wants to pay her ten pounds in gold to take his daughters across the river. She's a mercenary these days, you see. She takes on the task, dragging the two pouty debutantes through the desert, but not before she tears off their cotton sundresses ("These are the finest silk dresses in the kingdom!" they protest) and makes them wear animal skin bikinis.

Along the way, they fight off some marauders, part of the self-same gang of punk-asses that killed Tara's tribe. They look like rejects from a Scorpions video, and one of them carries a giant, razor bristled toothbrush. The marauders were dragging a prisoner back to their camp, a musclebound cat with slicked back hair (Jerman) who decides to tag along with Tara and the girls. When they stop to camp, he bangs the two daughters, as Tara looks on quizzically. Never been kissed, this amazon warrior.

Then, some unspeakable acts of treachery and deceit happen. To be honest, I didn't even see them coming. At any rate, they all end up back at the marauder camp, where Tara finally comes face to face with Steiner (Raymond Storti), king of the bad guys. He's the one that killed Tara's mama 20 years ago, even though he can't be more than 6 months older than her. A good 20 or so minutes of fight scenes ensue.

Everything turns out OK. Touch and go for a few moments, but it all works out. Tara even learns how to cook and clean.
Amazon Warrior may or may not have been filmed entirely at a Renaissance faire, over a weekend. Either way, it's brilliant. Fans of Deathstalker and Beastmaster will know what to expect- tongue-in-cheek violent fantasy with a kitchen sink plot that's so involved that the characters all need to keep up a constant stream of chatter, even when they're beating the shit out of each other, just to explain it. The budget allowed for scant few monsters or effects, so all you'll find of end-of-the-world beasties is the aforementioned tire iron, a giant skunk in the bushes, and a couple of 20 dollar yeti masks on sticks. You won't miss them though, as the almost constant fight scenes are remarkably well choreographed- Rodgers, in particular, looks like she really can kick ass- and they keep the pace brisk, propelling the story along to it's suitably implausible conclusion.
Amazon Warrior is everything you'd expect from a film with such a title. Of course, none of it makes an ounce of sense, but this kind of late-night bad fun rarely does.

Clip: Behold! The trailer!

- Ken McIntyre

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