Friday, 23 March 2018

Female Fight Club

Cast: Amy Johnston, Cortney Palm, Sean Faris, Rey Goyos, and Dolph Lundgren       

Director: Miguel Ferrer

86 minutes (15) 2016
Widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Exploitation DVD Region 2
[Released 26th March]

Rating: 5/10
Review by Ian Shutter  

Rebecca, alias Bex ‘The Beast’ (Amy Johnston, a stunt double for Scarlett Johansson as the superhero Black Widow), works at a pet shelter, but used to be a boxer in the sinister world of bare-knuckle punch-ups and mixed martial arts. Her return to the underground fighting scene is prompted by a need to avenge her injured sister.

Female Fight Club (aka: Female Fight Squad) instantly recalls such sporting movies as Girlfight (2000), a notable career starter for Michelle Rodriguez; but it’s not really at all like Clint Eastwood’s excellent character study Million Dollar Baby (2004), that stars Hilary Swank. There’s probably a bit too much soap opera here for its drama to be very interesting, and FFC follows the standard B-movie formula a little too closely for its own good so there are precious few surprises in its brief running time.

The narrative flashback structure and obvious low-budget limitations combine, with one particular sequence of sex in the boxing ring that’s inter-cut with a night alley beating, to mark the movie’s editing of elements as clear evidence of a novice director at work, and Miguel (A.) Ferrer is not to be confused with the veteran actor who died in January, this year.

Movies about women in fighting scenarios is a cycle that dates back to the 1980s, when the likes of Cynthia Rothrock and Michelle Yeoh emerged with a buzz of glamour from a bustling Hong Kong action scene exported worldwide via home video releases. A couple of more recent big hits in this burgeoning subgenre include spy thrillers Haywire (2011), starring Gina Carano; and Atomic Blonde (2017), a great picture for the super-talented Charlize Theron. Obviously, Johnston is rather more impressive in her fight scenes than for her acting ability, but this might well endear FFC to fans of Rothrock’s oeuvre where the same problem was often true.

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