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2.2.15

WRITTEN REVIEW: The Lost Empire

By CORY CARR
Some time ago I took a crack at one of Jim Wynorski's films, Gila! – a remake of the atomic age monster movie The Giant Gila Monster. Well this time around I'll be sharing with you my thought on Wynorski's first film, The Lost Empire. People may not have known it in 1983, but The Lost Empire was a sign of things to come. Wynorski sure knows how to put together an entertaining movie.

THE SYNOPSIS
The Lemurians, and ancient and very powerful race, implanted the secrets of their great power into a pair of jewels called the “The Eyes of Avatar” to protect it and keep it hidden. During a later cosmic battle that nearly destroyed Earth, the Lemurians were vanquished and the jewels separated. Legend tells that whoever reunites the jewels will rule with absolute power. That power is now being sought out by a terrible evil. And that's the gist of the backstory.


Whoa...ninjas.

Now, modern day, we meet Detective Angel Wolfe, Melanie Vincz. She's a motorcycle ridin', lady Dirty Hairy with a pair of rather remarkable... skills... Wolfe gets brought in to investigate a jewel heist gone bad in which a group of ninjas unsuccessfully tried to make off with one of the Eyes of Avatar which has been fitted into a statue.


Things get personal when Angel's kid brother, Officer Rob Wolfe – played by Bill Thornbury of Phantasm fame, gets stabbed apprehending one of the ninjas. On his death bed, Rob gives his sister and ninja star that he retrieved from one of the ninjas. Angel then visits the scene of the crime and without knowledge, the Eye of Avatar relocates itself into her peruse using it's own mystical powers.

Later Angel turns to a colleague, and personal hunk of man meat, Federal Agent Rick Stanton, Paul Coufos, for ninja information. He informs her that the ninja star has the markings of Lee Chuck, a evil villain type who has been at the heart of mass killings all over the globe, and a man who the feds know has been after the Eyes of Avatar. He also thinks Lee Chuck is in cahoots with a cult leader who goes by the name Dr. Sin Do. Sin Do holds annual fighting tournaments for lady warriors on his reclusive island. To get the man or men behind her brother death, prevent Lee Chuck from getting the Eyes of Avatar and end Sin Do's illegal Kumite style fights, Angel must enter the tournament herself. She has to fight her way to the top in order to get to the bottom of this mystery.


I always knew this is what a women's prison looked like.

But there is a catch. The tournament only allows contestants to enter in groups of three. Allegedly this is a way to keep spies out of the tournament and off the island. So Angel recruits a pair of women who are up to the challenge. First there is Whitestar, Raven De La Cruix, a Native American warrior who has worked with Angel in the past and is more than willing to put her generous wigwams to work for Angel's cause. The next is Heather McClure, Angela Ames, a convict who Angel recently put away for robbery. When Angel & Whitestar approach Heather at her home, the women's prison, she is knee deep in the prison's muddy courtyard fighting a woman twice her size as the other inmates cheer and bounce bralessly. With a promise of a reduced prison sentence, Heather joins the ranks of Angel & Whitestar to help them on their quest.


The trio make their way to the island, and with the other competitors, they begin their training. By training I mean running obstacle courses and doing jumping jacks without bras. There is SO much bouncing. As the days go on the ladies are forced to fight to the death, but by night they poke around looking for info on Sin Do and Lee Chuck. They discover that Sin Do has been keeping the victors of the tournament captive, training them to become an army. The losers either die or are sold as sex slaves to some of the worlds richest men.

Meanwhile, Rick has found the Eye of Avatar in Angel's purse and has decided to bring it to the island so Angel can use it's power against Lee Chuck. This is an idea that I don't quite understand. Isn't the Eye safer if it isn't where Lee Chuck can get it? Why bring it to him? As you may have guessed, upon reaching the island, Rick is captured and the Eye is confiscated. Now Lee Chuck has both.


"BBOOYYYYYY!!"

As Rick is being prepared to be executed, we finally get to lay eyes on Sin Do, or is it Lee Chuck? It turns out that they are one and the same and are played by none other than Angus Scrimm, another Phantasm veteran.

Whitestar creates a diversion by freeing all the captive women who join her and Heather in her fight against the island guards. Angel, and later Rick, finds her way to Lee Chuck's secret quarters where they duke it out, rescue the women and save the day.


Lee Chuck and his laser cannon. Is it just me or is he standing next to a giant robo-dick?.

THE VERDICT
Enter the Dragon + Flash Gordon + Charlie's Angels + Russ Meyers = The Lost Empire. This could be my entire review. If you like all of those things, you will like The Lost Empire. The film is a pretty ambitious undertaking for Wynonski considering this is the first film he both wrote and directed according to IMDB.

The story is a bit of a fantasy adventure that is fun from start to finish. But boy does it have a lot going on. The acting isn't award winning, but it isn't all together bad either. Remember, acting is a qualification these women needed to possess second only to the size of their rather ample yojimbos. This is an example of the light hearted nature of the film. Even when it's being exploitative for the sake of titillation, it does it in a cheeky and unrealistic way that no one is supposed to take too seriously and anyone can find entertained. This film celebrates boobs, and who doesn't like boobs?!

Once the women get to the island the films starts to drag a bit. There is a little too much time spent on the women and their day to day events instead of them advancing their plans to stop Sin Do/Lee Chuck. But this is more of a nit-pick.

My only real criticism is that the corny jokes are too plentiful. They are in tune with the rest of the films schlocky nature, but they happen too often and are too corny to be enjoyable. Things like; Whitestar calling Angel “Kemosabe”. This movie has more bad jokes than a Nake Gun movie. The gags often made my eyes roll. The film doesn't take itself too seriously, which I enjoy, but I don't need constant reminders.

The Lost Empire is a true example of the old drive-in experience had to offer, "Blood, Breasts & Beasts". It's a fun way to spend an hour and a half of your life. Especially if you enjoy watching large breasted women run... I gotta see more Wynorski.

THE LOST EMPIRE

★ ★ ★

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