Review submitted by Prof. Aglaophotis

Strike of the Tortured Angels (1982)
Director: Roy Rosenberg
Writers: Dick O’Nell and Gary Capra Jr.
Starring: Susan Lee, Stella Jone, Laura Sode-Matteson and George Bill

The Plot: Our story takes place in Hong Kong where a group of delinquent young girls are being driven away to a Women’s Rehabilitation center. Many of the girls are beaten by the other inmates and put to work by the unfair guards. However, one girl named Susan passively fights back against these troubles with her stoic but rigid personality as she tries to escape. Julie, the toughest of the new girls, wants to escape the school and finds companionship in Susan’s personality and motivations. Susan wants to get even with a cheating Doctor Qua who is slowly ruining her family’s life: he drives Susan’s older sister to suicide by knocking her up, abandoning her and stealing money from the family fortune in the process. Susan will do what she can to stop him from ruining her family any further so the two girls escape with a third on their quest to stop the doctor, but not without facing various perils.

The Review
Try thinking of the worst excuse of a Skin Flick, then think of a bad idea for a Women in Prison film and fill it with uninteresting characters. Now combine them, set them in China and imagine what you’d get. You’d get a dull, stupid, barely arousing movie that gives up on being either of those genres and falls into completely different movie genres like Crime, Revenge and Drama. That’s right: Tortured Angels is the bait and switch of Exploitation films. What starts out as a sexy and silly nonsense riddled Women in Prison movie becomes a boring and unappealing Drama/Revenge film.

What sucks about the movie is how hard its humor and combined sleaziness falls. The movie starts out with Susan and the rehabilitation assistant Mr. Lee mud wrestling and tearing at each other’s clothes over the opening credits. From there, the movie keeps up with the zany sex appeal as the transported girls are forced to strip down and wear short shorts and tank tops, some of which they lose completely in the goofiest (but most exciting) hazing sequence I’ve ever watched.

Throughout this, we get to know our main characters, Susan, Ginger and the rough and ready Julie. Julie is one of the most memorable characters I’ve seen in a movie of this caliber because… and I’m not making this up… she’s played by an Asian woman in blackface. She dons a curly dark haired afro to boot and has the funniest facial expressions for some of the most serious of scenes. Ginger on the other hand is the “weird girl” of the trio; she sort of reminds me of the cute nameless girl belonging to Satahn’s cult from the movie Snuff, the girl in the mini-skirt who would laugh every time someone fired a gun. Ginger spends most of the movie caring for a piglet and carrying it around even when the trio are busy warding off horny bikers and robbing people. What’s even funnier is how the piglet is just as badly dubbed as the actors: they give the piglet the oink of an adult pig!

For the first twenty minutes, the movie is somewhat entertaining as the girls try to find some way out of the rehab center. But then we start learning about Susan’s back story. That’s when the movie stops being fun and entertaining. The reason why Susan gets sent to the reform school is about as sympathetic as a drive-by shooting; I’m still not sure how in the Hell she blames the doctor for what she did, especially since he wasn’t involved. Julie’s strange desire to die of illness despite facing the cure several times makes her character hard to sympathize with.

The cinematography is a little awkward at times due to its mixed themes. It’s decent for the most part with a few good shots like the reflection of the cheating doctor in his mirrored sunglasses or a close-up of broken glass separating the scenes from Susan’s ailing father and the cheating doctor. Throughout the movie though the camera will focus on the bare legs of any young girl in the scene as if this really were a Skin Flick. Which is weird because this movie has practically no nudity in it. Girls get undressed and shower in one scene while one girl gets stripped naked during the hazing scene; we get one shot of a bare tush, but that’s it. That’s not a good thing in an Exploitation film!!

At no point does the soundtrack sound authentic. It’s hard to say where every song comes from, but it changes in style, composition and age constantly. One minute it will sound like an action movie, then a horror movie and then a 60’s jazz scene. I can recognize a bit from the Jean Michel Jaree song Oxygen (about three minutes in) and I can name one movie soundtrack this flick does rip off: The Burning! That’s right, the same average ‘80’s slasher that, for years, you couldn’t get uncut is featured in Tortured Angels via song. Be it the fake attack scenes or the main theme song, Tortured Angels plays them both during its many campy scenes. Because of the ripped off soundtrack though, many scenes will sound too action-packed, dramatic or intense for their own good. One of the best songs in the movie is used for a stripping scene and a car chase right out of Mitchell and it makes both scenes feel more intense than they really are.

Because this is movie was originally shot in the Chinese language (I’m guessing Mandarin), it’s kind of awkward how most of the characters have English names; sort of like how Ghost Head took place in Japan but everyone was renamed and the script was made to sound like it was San Francisco. However, at one point, someone shouts for Susan, but it’s not the dub actor speaking, it’s the actual actor. Still, the dubbing is pretty funny. Every now and again, the dub actors will throw in an English accent for random characters. Then there’s the dumpy doctor Susan wishes to take her revenge on who has the funniest voice in the whole movie. Not only does Dr. Qua have a British accent, but the actor sounds like he’s mumbling the whole time; if only this was What’s Up, Tiger Lilly?!

I’ll admit, the movie tries to spice things up a bit through the bad dubbing and strange costume changes. At one point, Susan shows up to talk to her sister dressed up in some kind of modern Native American garb as if she were a Tekken character. There’s even a great scene where the trio strip three random school girls and key their bikes. These moments are all short lived and pale in comparison to the squelching drama story though.

The last five minutes of the movie has some hilarity to it. One character responds to a shotgun blast to the gut by rolling their big wide eyes in the back of their head and forming their mouth in a perfect O shape and standing perfectly still once shot. Also, the copy of this movie I have is hardcoded in Danish, so there are many Danish subtitles throughout the film. However, it should be noted that the abrupt ending of the film is presented with a Power Point-like THE END screen, or in this case, simply END. The word END is subtitled in Danish as well… and the word for END in Danish is spelled S.L.U.T. (though pronounced differently). So, by the end, the movie insults the audience with the power of unintentional hilarity.

The Conclusion
As a Drama/Revenge Film, Tortured Angels is mediocre at best; it’s livened only with a few fun characters and random PG-13 sexual themes. This isn’t like Raw Force where there’s a laugh to be had every minute or bare bodies at every other. Its inconsistent silliness is so broken it barely makes the movie enjoyable. It’s silly and serious, but not never enough of either makes it worth watching.