A former fighter reluctantly returns to the life she abandoned in order to help her sister survive the sadistic world of illegal fighting and the maniac who runs it.
The problem with “Female Fight Squad” is not its story, granted, the idea of a former fighter returning to her hometown after having moved away for a number of years is nothing new. Add to that, the reason for her return is her sister and some friends rigged a fight and made an illegal bet against the boss of the local underground fight club and after he found out about it, threatened her life if she didn’t pay him back, and soon. I’m sure you can see where this is going and you would be absolutely correct in assuming the outcome. I don’t mind clichéd storylines like this, as long as there are somewhat believable performances and good martial arts to help the story along. After all, most of Hollywood’s elite action stars began their careers with low-budget films like this. But those two facets are exactly why this movie doesn’t work: dreadful performances and poor fighting choreography. Ever since Ronda Rousey shed light on female Mixed Martial Arts and the UFC, Hollywood has been clamoring to find the next big female action star. While Amy Johnston has spent many years as a stunt performer and martial artist, her acting abilities leave a lot to be desired. That is not a knock against her, after all, as I stated earlier, many of today’s action stars, male and female, started out as fighters and gradually worked their way into TV and film, stars like Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren (who co-stars in this film), Donnie Yen, Tony Jaa and Chuck Norris, to name but a few, but right now, Ms. Johnston appears very uncomfortable in front of the camera. With a busy schedule ahead of her, maybe she will learn to adapt to the camera, thereby allowing herself to concentrate more on her performance, rather than her fighting technique.
While some might argue that many of these so-called “actors” cannot act, just watch any Chuck Norris movie for proof of that, the bottom line is that they have large followings due to their fighting capabilities. Over time, they learn the art of acting and the techniques that help them perform in front of the camera but it is very likely that any of them will appear in the next big Oscar contender. They know what they are capable of and what genre they belong to: action.
After Rebecca’s (Johnston) father Holt (Lundgren) is sent to prison for killing the men who beat up and raped his youngest daughter Kate (Cortney Palm), Rebecca decides to leave town and move to Los Angeles. Many years later, Kate turns up on her doorstep, begging her to come back to help her out of trouble. Initially, Rebecca refuses, telling Kate that she has to get herself out of her own mess but then she reconsiders and moves back to Vegas. She agrees to train Kate and some of her friends but when that proves futile, Rebecca ends up in the ring once more, determined to end this, once and for all, so she and her family can move forward with their lives.
The best performance comes from Rey Goyos, who plays ruthless fight club promoter, Landon Jones. He doesn’t have much screen time but when he does, he chews up the scenery surrounding him, and everyone in it. He is maniacal, demented, and psychotic but he delivers his lines and performance with such intensity, it makes you wish that every other actor in the film was as good as him. The fight choreography is so bad that during some of the fight scenes, you can see where actors were holding back, instead of trying to make it look like they were intending to hit their target. In an action film that is all about martial arts, the biggest mistake is not giving your audience what they want. I watched it through to the end because as a film critic, that is my job but for many action movie lovers out there, they may not follow suit, and I’m sure that is not the intended outcome the filmmakers had in mind.
Available on DVD, Digital HD & On Demand Tuesday, August 8th