• Lady Street Fighter (AGFA) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: AGFA
    Released on: August 14th, 2018.
    Director: James Bryan
    Cast: Renee Harmon, Trace Carradine,
    Jody McCrea
    Year: 1981
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    Lady Street Fighter - Movie Review:

    Written by, starring and produced by Renee Harmon and directed by James Bryan, Lady Street Fighter opens with a scene where a topless woman is tortured by some ruthless fiends and then eventually killed. This woman was Billie, the sister of a middle-aged, high class call girl named Linda Allen (Harmon) who we meet when she arrives from Amsterdam in Los Angeles. Shortly after she sets foot on American soil, a duo of bad dudes attempts to steal her stuffed Snoopy toy! She narrowly escapes with her life and her Snoopy plush!

    Linda learns shortly after from a pimp named Lem (who looks like a cross between David Hess and Tom Savini) that Billie was killed by the bad guys because they thought Billie was her! She disposes of Lem’s switchblade, he doesn’t like that. Linda then takes it upon herself to track down Billie’s killers and see that justice is served. Why were the bad guys after her in the first place though? Because she’s got a tape with some rather damning evidence on it that they’d love to get their hands on. Soon enough, Linda has teamed up with Rick Pollitt (Jody McCrea), an F.B.I. man who may not be all that he seems. As the ‘plot’ thickens, we learn that an organization known as Assassins Inc. are the ones that are really behind this – and the best way for Linda to get to them and give them what for is to… perform erotic oral sex acts with celery at an orgy hosted by a guy named Max Diamond?

    Linda Allen dresses like Elvis, except when she’s dressed like a hooker, but also gets surprisingly naked in the movie. More than once. The score frequently uses a Casio keyboard rip off of the main theme from The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. Linda seductively licks the bottom of a phone cradle and basically gives head to some stalks of celery. No really, she fellates celery. Twice. There’s a weird girl here who may or may not be stoned who does a Lolita-esque ‘jailbait’ thing. One of the bad guys is named Max Diamond. MAX FUCKING DIAMOND. There are strippers here. Linda wears lingerie that is surprisingly revealing in the crotch area. When one guy breaks into her apartment to steal Snoopy while she’s in the shower, she gets out, kicks the shit out of him, and then gets back in the shower. Cleanliness is important to Linda. Liz Renay, she of Marilyn And The Senator and Desperate Living infamy, does a strip act in a nudie bar that is, for reasons that can’t possibly make any sense, sandwiched into the movie seemingly just to include footage of Liz Renay in the buff.

    The first of a few movies that Bryan and Harmon would make together (the others being The Executioner Part II, Hell Riders, Run Coyote Run and Jungle Trap), Lady Street Fighter throws logic out the window and just goes for it. Starring a whole bunch of people from a Los Angeles based acting school that Harmon ran at one point, it’s full of awkward performances and weird thesping, not the least of which comes from Harmon herself. She’s front and center in all of this, a whirling dervish of heavily accented badassery – talent be damned. It doesn’t really matter what you think about her acting skills, because Renee Harmon, may she rest in peace, clearly believed she had what it took to play a part like this and evidently considered herself the right choice to play a jet-setting, ass kicking, revenge getting super hooker. And you know what? She was right. Fine, she’s not ‘good’ but she’s got an obvious determination that’s evident in every frame that features her. She’s trying so hard here that her performance – which is hands down the most noteworthy thing not just about this film but of every film that we’ve been lucky enough to see her star in – is infectious. You can’t help but cheer her on, it’s human nature to cheer on the underdog. If the end result is a complete and utter mess – and it is – then so be it because the film still stands as a wonderfully weird example of how determination and drive often times matter more than money and… talent.

    Lady Street Fighter – Blu-ray Review:

    Lady Street Fighter comes to Blu-ray framed at 1.78.1 widescreen transferred from a ‘new 2K scan from the only surviving 35mm theatrical print’ in AVC encoded 1080p high definition. This looks pretty decent, all things considered. Yes, there is print damage evident throughout and detail is never really reference quality but it is a definite and appreciated upgrade over the DVD releases that came out via Media Blasters in their Rare Flix Triple Feature Volume 3 boxed set. Detail is definitely better than we got on the standard definition offering, as is color reproduction. Black levels are also quite good and skin tones look fine. There are no noticeable issues with compression artifacts or edge enhancement nor are there any problems with visible noise reduction. The end result is something very much akin to watching a theatrical print – which makes sense, given that this is what was used for the transfer.

    The only audio option for the feature is an English language DTS-HD Mono track that, thankfully, contains optional English subtitles. Those subtitles, not available off of the menu but selectable via your remote control, do come in handy as some of the dialogue is pretty muffled. Levels bounce a bit here and there and it’s not completely uncommon for the amazing score and not so amazing sound effects to bury the dialogue a bit. There’s minor hiss throughout and some pops here and there – if you’ve done a deep dive into low budget movies then you’ve certainly heard worse, but keep your expectations in check as this clearly shows that less than perfect elements were all that was available here.

    Extras start off with a commentary track with director James Bryan and “the AGFA team” (they being Joseph Ziemba and Sebastian del Castillo) that is genuinely and sincerely great. Bryan’s got a good sense of humor and there’s no false pretense here, and the AGFA guys do a great job of keeping him engaged in the conversation. As the commentary plays out, we learn what it was like to work with unstoppable entity that was Ms. Harmon, how and why ‘Trace Carradine’ wound up top billed alongside Harmon, where various bit part players came from, locations that were used, the film’s wonky distribution history, how this film was indirectly responsible for financing Don’t Go In The Woods… Alone!, cost cutting measures that were employed, how and why Bryan added different snippets of footage to the movie after production had wrapped and quite a bit more. Even if you’re not a fan of the film, this is good enough that you’ll want to take the time to listen to it anyway if you’re at all interested in the odd history of low budget and exploitation pictures of its day.

    At the end of the feature, a title screen tells us to watch out for a sequel – but for the longest time it seemed that sequel was never made. Wrong! AGFA includes Revenge Of Lady Streetfighter, the never before released sequel, scanned in 2K from the original 35mm camera negative! Quality of the presentation is about on par with the quality of the feature attraction – not spotless or anything but certainly more than serviceable given the film’s origins. When watching this one, it’s kind of easy to see why it was never released – it’s basically the first movie re-edited into a substantially more nonsensical form with new voice over work added overtop to try and make sense of it all.

    The premise is thus – two feds have got Wendy (Ruth Peebles), who is sometimes referred to as Wanda, in their charge. They talk to her about how her aunt, Linda Allen, was a deadly agent, a killing machine, who just so happened to get her hands on some top-secret information – information that they need to get from her. The only problem is that they don’t know where she is. This doesn’t make any sense because it seems that they already have the file they’re talking to Wendy about, but then, nothing about this movie makes sense. It does huge chunks of the first film though, and not all of it is even tenuously connected to the flashback scenes that someone somewhere through in here to try and tie this together. You can definitely file this one under ‘What The Fuck Where They Thinking?’

    From there, dig into a selection of “Street fightin' trailers from the AGFA vaults” where you’ll find theatrical trailers for Force Five, Force Four, Zebra Force, The Muthers, and Sister Street Fighter staring the lovely and talented Sue Shiomi alongside the mighty Sonny Chiba.

    Tucked away inside the clear Blu-ray keepcase are some great liner notes by Annie Choi of Bleeding Skull! that serve as an interesting and fun-to-read appreciation of Harmon and the film.

    Lady Street Fighter - The Final Word:

    Lady Street Fighter is not Harmon’s masterpiece – that’s Frozen Scream – but it’s damn close to it. The movie rarely makes much sense but don’t let that dissuade you. If you appreciate the charisma, the chutzpah and the sheer, unbridled insanity that is Renee Harmon then you’ll definitely get a kick out of this one. The whole disc, even the amazingly terrible sequel, stands as a testament to her dedication to her craft, misguided as it often was, and a tribute to her work. The presentation would seem to be as solid as it can be, and the commentary from director James Bryan is worth its weight in gold.

    Click on the images below for full sized Lady Street Fighter Blu-ray review screen captures!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Maureen Champ's Avatar
      Maureen Champ -
      How pretty Renee was there! When I watched SOV Night of Terror with her (before Bryan flicks), I had no idea how could she recognized herself as pretty behind the mirror, painting furiously with lipstick and screaming "PRETTY, PRETTY, PRETTY, PRETTY, PRETTY, PRETTY!!!!" I didn't know then about LSF distribution issues!
    1. Mark C.'s Avatar
      Mark C. -
      Nice of them to include the squeal as well, I will be purchasing this one for sure.