Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Review - Bitch Slap

Three sultry vixens desperately try to track down $200 million dollars in diamonds. Arriving at a remote desert location, the three bawdy women soon discover they're not the only ones looking for the diamonds or them.

"Bitch Slap" has all the right components, however misses the mark in becoming a new cult favorite. That is not to say that the action homage is terrible, it is very much the opposite and something I'd rewatch on a semi-regular basis. Unfortunately though "Bitch Slap" never allows itself to go completely over-the-top in one direction or the other. Instead the action toes the line trying to capture what other grindhouse directors like Russ Meyer, Doris Wishman, David Friedman and Joe D'Amato did routinely back in the 1960's and 70's.

It is very clear while watching "Bitch Slap" that director and writer Rick Jacobson is very much a huge fan of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. His film really plays more as a homage to them, than the sexploitation genre of film. Told in a backtracking method ala Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, "Bitch Slap" really creates a hysterical story that is enjoyable to see pieced together. Jacobson and Eric Gruendemann pen a solid array of tongue and cheek characters that are (in the end) fun to watch on screen.

Being sold as a throwback to the sexploitation films of the 60's and 70's I expected "Bitch Slap" would be chalk full of outlandish nudity. While the film does go out of its way to highlight the sex appeal of the 3 leading ladies, there is barely any nudity whatsoever in the 90 minute romp. None of which comes from the leads played by Julia Voth, Erin Cummings and America Olivo. The viewer does get plenty of over indulgent and prolonged shots of the women and their more sexual features. In the end however, what is sold as a hard R rating for brutal violence and strong sexual content, seemed more like child's play in comparison to the sexploitation films of past.

As far as violence and action is concerned, "Bitch Slap" has a worthy payoff. A ton of credit should be given to stunt coordinator and double, Zoe Bell. Bell of course is the inspiration behind Tarantino's Kill Bill series and also doubled for Uma Therman in both films. Tarantino later gave Bell a lead role in his grindhouse effort Death Proof. While "Bitch Slap" delivers in most of the fight sequences and action, some of it feels a tad stretched out and never gives the viewer anything new on screen.

The leading ladies in "Bitch Slap" are for the most part, right on cue in their performances. Their characters are clearly there to provide eye candy as the heist plot unfolds and they most definitely do that. Being such a tongue and cheek film it is hard to gauge exactly how far director Rick Jacobson pushed the girls in their slapstick performances.

"Bitch Slap" has sequences that work flawlessly, but in moments, the performances just seem inconsistent. America Olivo's character Camero is played so over-the-top in parts that her portrayal while hilarious, can become tedious. Olivo however, did deliver the best fighting out of the 3 leads. Julia Voth is stunning on screen as Trixie and really plays out her part of the unsuspecting victim fairly well. Erin Cummings is also engaging as Hel. I got a real big kick out of the supporting cast including cameos by Lucy Lawless and Kevin Sorbo. But once again, like other parts of "Bitch Slap," I left wanting something more.

Despite having a few clear problems with "Bitch Slap" I enjoyed the film for what it is. I love a film that knows how not to take it self seriously and "Bitch Slap" fires on all cylinders there. The majority of the action is fun, the dialogue generates quite a few laughs and the sultry females on screen do their best to create an enjoyable theater going experience. While the effects were intended to be cheap and are undeniably laugh inducing, unfortunately the green screen work ends up becoming a distraction to the eye. That said, "Bitch Slap" is again a film that is playing to a level that expects a certain amount of bad and for that, it works.