Tuesday, 27 October 2009
Director: Ciro H. Santiago
Distributor: 23rd Century
(This review refers to the 1983 Cirio H. Santiago film, not the Bill Milling film of the same name with Erik Estrada in it. You can check out the trailer for Milling's movie HERE. The fact that I can't find a trailer on YouTube for Santiago's 'Caged Fury' must surely score double anorak points for obscurity?)
At a hidden prison camp deep in the jungles of South East Asia, some devious Vietnamese commies are kidnapping beautiful women and brainwashing them into becoming subliminally-activated suicide bombers to further their evil aims abroad. Help isn't going to be coming anytime soon, so the all-female inmates must engineer their own escape any which way they can...
'Caged Fury' really reminds me of a feature-length episode of 'Charlie's Angels' (specifically the one where they go undercover at a women's jail), only with the emphasis on escape rather than investigation. The plot is further thickened by the inclusion of a 'traitor within the group' sub-plot, as someone keeps foiling their escape efforts. Is it the whorish Honey? Perhaps the silent, semi-catatonic one? Maybe the young Vietnamese girl? The answer is kept well hidden with no obvious giveaways until the final reveal. It's probably the central narrative of interest, as the other plotlines are largely functional or too quickly resolved to be of any real interest. Even their eventual escape comes about more through luck than judgement or some carefully devised and well-executed escape plane.
As you might expect from a Women In Prison (WIP) exploitation flick, there's copious amounts of nudity, torture, molestation and rape...and even some consensual sex too! The camp commander likes to interrogate his female charges by affixing 'truth button' electrodes to their nipples (and a third electrode 'elsewheres') which seems like another contrived excuse for more gratuitous toplessness...but hey, who's complaining?
The picture and sound quality on my DVD are pretty poor, but then the DVD was dirt cheap. I believe I paid something like 50-75p for it in a bundle deal at a pound shop 'Oop North, and it comes in one of those hyper-slim cases so beloved of DVD pirates...and yet this is the official DVD, apparently. The no-frills approach is carried over onto the disc itself, with the multitude of extras such as 'Play Movie' and...erm...well, that's it! That said, the cover and disc art are really well done though. I certainly wouldn't be adverse to having a poster of it up on my wall.
Still, when all's said and done, I found this movie rather hit the spot for me. Cirio H. Santiago has done a lot better, and probably a lot worse besides, but that's the price you pay for being a genuine goddamned exploitation legend! Given the piffling price I paid for it, I can hardly complain.
Certainly WIP genre completists will find it to be a tidy addition to their collections (if they've already got everything put out by Lloyd Simandl's classily superior Bound Heat outfit, that is), but the casual punter may find it too be a little too sparse on action of either variety to seriously hold their interest. An acquired taste for sure, but most of my tastes are and this is one I'm not ashamed to admit having a taste for. It's a passable example of the genre, but by no means great. Given how cheaply it can be picked up, I'd definitely give it the thumbs up to anyone remotely interested in WIP films.
Overall, it seems like a bit of a missed opportunity...it could have been great, but instead is just OK, maybe even a little less when you take into account the sound and picture quality. Such is the nature of the low-budget beast, but on the upside, it costs virtually nothing to buy (if you can track down a copy, that is...23rd Century seem to eschew 'conventional' distribution channels, so try your local pound shop, publishers' clearance bookshop or local petrol station. Failing that, Ebay!), so what have you got to lose? Cheap and cheerful, and you get what you pay for, I guess.
You can check out another review of it here at Prison Flicks