Its hard to be a female action hero. The first thing that gets judged is appearance, not the fighting acumen, and the martial art kicks and blocks, the confrontation with the bad guys, the tough talk. Rick Jacobson's Bitch Slap however is not only about appearance, so don't judge the busty women in this film only by their corporeal attire as has been the pitfall of the novices out there that are not in tune with the subtleties of this new indie.
Pam Grier as Foxy Brown was one of the first large bosomed female action heroes and paved the way to more female bad ass fighters according to Kym Whitley who plays Honeybee in the blaxploitation epic Black Dynamite (2009). (Interviewed on Movie Magazine International,San Francisco, December 2, 2009). Enter Lucy Lawless as Xena the Warrior Princess with her body armor and chest plates who seldom loses a battle. Male action figures can get away with inflated pecs as just part of the warrior apparatus, so why not women?
The bosoms of Julia Voth, Erin Cummins and America Olivo will perhaps be talked about for some time to come, like Sean Connery's chest hair from an un-waxed Bond era. Enter Trixie, a stripper, Hel, a deadly corporate fast talker, and Camero a vengeful psycho killer and meet your latest female warriors - and with stunts by Zoë Bell, the moves are brilliantly executed.
Bitch Slap opens on a remote desert landscape near a rusty trailer. Three women battle over missing booty and harbor secrets, betrayals and share history with flashbacks to snowy landscapes, strip clubs and a nunnery. And they bitch slap the bad guys and themselves to smithereens - ones that last.Their prisoner is the sleazy, slimy drug dealer Gage (Michael Hurst), who pleads for his life. The sheriff's deputy Fuchs (Ron Melendez), a bad ass punk called Hot Wire (William Gregory Lee) and his Japanese sidekick Kinki (Minae Noji) sporting a deadly yo yo are among the visitors that venture out to the desert encampment to challenge this mean trio.
There is an essential background to the film that harks from the successfulXena: Warrior Princessepisodes of the 90's, a spinoff of the Hercules series. Rick Jacobson ("Poseidon" in Xena) directed several installments for both series and Zoë Bell was the stand in for Lucy Lawless as Xena. Note that Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor (Xena) and Kevin Sorbo(Hercules) have cameo roles in Bitch Slap. Lucy and Renee play two nuns in full habit who are shocked by Camero getting it on with a novice in the confessional, a real switch for the two side by side lovers/companions to death do us part in six seasons of Xena. Kevin Sorbo has a walk on part as a cool dude in shades who is less provocative but its good to see him lose his altar boy action hero posture from Hercules while Lawless and O'Connor gain their collars.
As in Xena: Warrior Princess, a rich queer subtext is camouflaged only if you want it to be. In fact, you can't miss it. There are still polarities among "Xenites" (fans of Xena) over whether Xena was in love with Gabrielle or Ares but there can be no mistake where the preferences of these women lie. And there is no compromise with the agenda. Men do not get to rescue these women, they can fight for themselves, or else.
Erin Cummins who was recently at the Stockholm Film Festival in November claims that getting to be sexy was part of the fun of working on the film. And that the word play in the script by Eric Gruendemann and Rick Jacobson was a language in itself to master so much that Bitch Slap 2 is in the works.
Bitch Slap calls attention to what exactly IS a "bitch slap". If you get a bitch slap its not supposed to hurt as much as a "dude punch". And its not supposed to last long. This is one of the many contradictions that Jacobson has fun with. The film borrows from the B movie female sexploitation films of the 60's, but with some innovative twists that fooled the audience so much they didn't know what was up, so at least in Stockholm on its premiere night there was some disappointment in the audience. But this is actually a real hybrid exploitation vehicle: its a slasher fighting vehicle, part nunsploitation and part spaghetti western in hot, dirty Eastwood territory. The inventive Rick Jacobson never fails to amaze. And the dialogue is as campy as the double entendre riddled through the scripts of the Xena episodes.
Now about the violence. B movie scene stealer Quentin Tarantino gets away with it in Nazi and blaxploitation and so does horror exploitation master Dario Argento. Why not Rick Jacobson in this warrior epic? This is not Brian de Palma. Bitch Slap is campy, rough and borders on the hilarious. Who has not laughed at Uma Thurman standing with a samurai sword even with Zoë Bell as a stuntwoman as backup with questionable attack posture far worse than any of her rivals. Trixie, Hel and Camp are superior fighters to Thurman and don't have to waste away in an Argento film like so many of his female characters.
Bitch Slap is pure 100% fun and is destined for cult film status.