Jim Wynorski is The Man and that’s the fact. Why? Because almost anybody can make a movie given enough money and time, but it takes a genius to do a likeable low-budget flick. And because there are still quite a few of his movies I haven’t watched yet, one nice rainy day I have decided to remedy that situation and sit down to enjoy his directorial debut The Lost Empire.
What a movie this one is! Obviously, I could attempt to strike a pose of a serious film critic and start talking shit about empowering women in the cinema and what have you, but I am anything but film critic, so I have to disappoint anyone expecting this.
On the contrary, I am just an ordinary guy enjoying movies and Wynorski’s debut satisfies that 17-years old me still living somewhere inside this gradually ageing body. And why?
Well, because in The Lost Empire, you have a digest of what a good movie should be. It has action (OK, it might be laughable, but it’s still there), you have great one-liners, plenty of T&A (well, in the end of the day it’s Jim Wynorski’s movie) and actually good soundtrack and – although now obviously archaic – nice effects (and while they are no match for modern CGI, I still like those old school effects more).
But what’s that movie about? Basically, you got your low-budget version of Charlie’s Angels without Charlie, but there, at least, is one of our heroines called Angel. The movie is a mixture of James Bond flicks (down to the copycat scene of insect in the bed from Dr. No, but in this case it’s a robotic (!) spider) and Enter the Dragon, plus references quite a couple of other movies, so you know you can’t go wrong here! Add to mix 3 great looking chicks who don’t mind to get down to business without their clothes on and you should have a winner here! And for me, we do.
Our main hero, Angel Wolfe (Melanie Vincz) is a cop, who lost her brother (also a cop) during the robbery in the city’s Chinatown. Well, as we learn later in the movie, the ninjas (yes, friends, this movie has ninjas!) were after a jewel, one of the two “Eyes of Avatar”, which – allegedly – when paired together, grant the person responsible an ultimate power. Well, that’s some incentive, right?
The suspect is Dr. Sin Do (played by Phantasm’s Angus Scrimm), living on the island of Golgatha, where he’s built a fortress for himself and rules his empire from there. But, as you, as a arc-villlain, need always some new blood as reinforcement, he organizes a tournament, where the best one’s getting an offer to stay on the island. And to weed out spies, you need to apply as a team of three.
That’s some great twist to introduce our next two heroines – lovely Raven De La Croix as Native American warrior Whitestar and Angela Aames as a convict Heather McClure. And that’s some terrific trio there, ladies and – especially – gentlemen!
Add to the mix Robert Tessier as Dr. Sin Do’s head henchman Koro, Paul Coufos as the officer Rick Stanton, over-the-top performance (albeit, with not enough screen time) of Blackie Dammet, phallic symbolism in the form of the ultimate laser machine, and sprinkle the result with lots of nudity (and Raven De La Croix is the eye-catcher here, that’s for sure) and you have every man’s wet dream movie right here.
I don’t know, there is something magic in the low budget B-movies of yesteryear new movies just can’t grasp. I’m not talking about the nostalgia factor here, because I have never seen the movie before, but the whole feeling while watching this flick was like meeting an old friend. Many new directors try hard, throwing in their movies the whole palette of profanity, nudity and/or gore, but they just end up boring and not even funny. I guess the real art here is not just those ingrediencies, but aforementioned good dialogues (which, of course, are sometimes corny as hell), but with the right amount of one-liners combined with all the stuff you expect from a B-movie – well, as they say, they don’t make them like they’ve used to.