Sounding like a direct-to-video Chuck Norris film, ACT OF VENGEANCE was originally released under the much better title, RAPE SQUAD. This title more accurately describes what the film is about, even though it’s probably a little too sleazy for its own good. But no matter what the film goes by, VENGEANCE is a pretty solid rape-revenge effort that gets points for absurdity even if it doesn’t live up to the sleazy nature of its original title. Check out the trailer for more, but be warned, it does feature minor spoilers:
If the idea of watching women being sexually assaulted bothers you (and it should) than proceed with caution as this is a rape-revenge film. The rape footage in VENGEANCE isn’t close to the brutality and degradation featured in films like I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE or LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, but it is present and is still not enjoyable to witness.
While many rape-revenge films pride themselves on being as brutal as possible, VENGEANCE does not. In actuality, it’s more ridiculous than vicious with a rapist who wears a hockey mask (and this is about eight years before Jason put his on) and forces his victims to sing “Jingle Bells” while he sexually assaults them. I may just be a jaded viewer of exploitation, but I found this to be more exploitative and silly rather than disturbing.
What this film may lack in brutality it exceeds in something that most similar films do not: fun. Yes, I said it, this rape-revenge film is actually enjoyable to watch. Much of this is attributed to how ridiculous it all is and the fact that the rapist’s victims, who cannot get help from the police, all band together to form a rape squad.
The women train in martial arts and seek out accused rapists to carry out their vengeance. This means we get plenty of moments of these women, who were obviously not professionally trained in martial arts, training or fighting. With a good portion of the movie devoted to the training and the bonding of the women (which is at times wonderfully melodramatic), it’s hard for the film to reach the “dirty” feeling achieved by other films in the revenge genre, and personally, I welcome that.
Surprisingly, even though director Bob Kelljan didn’t have much of a career in exploitation cinema, this is a rather competently made film. Following VENGEANCE, he primarily worked in TV on such series as HILL STREET BLUES. Prior to this film he made SCREAM, BLACULA, SCREAM which is amusing in its own way, but isn’t nearly as polished as this. Most films of this type tend to end up sloppy and not always as cohesive as you’d like. Sometimes these flaws can work in the film’s favor, but VENGENACE is actually put together rather well.
There is a certain “made for TV” style evident that makes it seem like some sort of true crime re-enactment footage, but this could also be attributed to the fact that the version I watched was cropped from the 1.85:1 aspect ratio of the original theatrical presentation, adding to the more TV-esque presentation.
The actresses seem to be having a good time getting their hands dirty, their performances adequate though the script doesn’t do them any favors. The dialogue is often ridiculous even by exploitation standards helping to heighten the fun nature of the film, though it does keep the subject matter from being taken too seriously. The actual revenge sequences are nowhere near as messy as films like THRILLER: A CRUEL PICTURE or I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, but they serve their purpose. There’s not as much potential for numerous death sequences but I found it exploitative enough to recommend to fans of similar films. Just don’t expect a bloodbath.
VENGEANCERAPE SQUAD is a strange film that is, at times, a fairly hard-to-watch rape-revenge film that also turns out to be much more fun to watch than its genre counterparts. It isn’t without its flaws, but any film that features a gang of women trained in martial arts hunting down a hockey mask wearing rapist that makes his victims sing Christmas tunes, is worth viewing.
The film is currently available to stream via Netflix under ACT OF VENGEANCE and doesn’t have any official DVD release that I can find.
Rating:Tags: Crime, Crime Screen, movie, Rape, revenge, review