REVIEW: TERMINATOR WOMAN (1993)

CAST

Karen Sheperd (Hercules: TLJ)
Jerry Trimble (The Green Hornet)
Michel Qissi (Kickboxer)
Ashley Hayden (The Mangler)
Ted Le Plat (The Emissary)
Len Sparrowhawk (American Ninja 2)
Kimberleigh Stark (Friend Request)

terminatorwoman4Two American cops take on a ruthless and wealthy industrialist. Surprise — he’s not an old white British dude! And he’s not played by James Hong. He deals in everything from gun running to white slavery and he’s looking for a hidden stash of gold and will stop at nothing to find it. Will the cops stop at nothing to stop him from stopping at nothing?3Michel Qissi’s 1993 film, Terminator Woman. Famous for his role as Tong Po in the first two Kickboxer films, Qissi not only directed, edited, and performed in the film, but also choreographed its many fight scenes. His wife at the time also co-wrote and co-produced it.  Qissi plays Alex Gatelee, a wealthy industrialist based in South Africa. Similar to Art Vandelay of Vandelay Industries, Gatelee is an importer-exporter cloaked in mystery. Unlike Vandelay, Gatelee is not the product of George Constanza’s incessant lying, but is instead a ruthless motherfucker with a giant scar across his face. He throws his workers out of windows for weak apologies and tears out their mullets for baseless lies. When not maiming the help, Gatelee is searching for gold hidden somewhere along the South African coast, and the only person who knows its location is a material witness recently escorted back to the country by two American detectives.2In a non-traditional pairing that turns the buddy cop formula on its ear, Jerry Trimble plays Jay  and Karen Sheperd plays Julie.  Beyond their partnership, these two have a martial arts rivalry marked by underpinnings of sexual tension what with their incredible fighting prowess, frequent flirting, and interlocking genitalia. While Jay’s feelings are made clear by behavior like leering at Julie’s ass and booking a single hotel room with only one bed during their stay, Julie makes it known that she finds Jay to be both “unoriginal” and “sexually amoral.” They have a reasonable amount of chemistry and their dynamic is a nice change of pace. That’s not to say Trimble and Sheperd don’t get a decent amount of screen time together. c5yukjirAfter the two are forcibly separated, Jay teams with a local South African boy named Charlie (Mlangeni) to track down Gatelee and his missing partner. Charlie acts as Jay’s guide and logistical maestro and is even a bit of a smart-ass at times, which allows for some engaging back-and-forth between the pair. To Mlangeni’s credit, Charlie doesn’t approach Short-Round levels of annoyance and brings out a charismatic aspect of Trimble rarely seen. Best of all, Charlie throws some choice fist pumps during a dirtbike chase scene that sees Jay kicking thugs off moving vehicles and leading them into a dangerously busy retail parking lot. Julie spends most of the second act hitting enemies in various vital regions, but mostly in the balls. One of the all-time great onscreen female fighters, Sheperd is joy to watch in action, in great part because of her incredible skill, but also because of her wardrobe. The filmmakers were somehow able to convince her into wearing an embroidered top with a built-in push-up bra for 80% of the movie, and her cleavage isn’t so much distracting as it is violently confrontational. Thankfully, the writers worked in a nightclub scene to explain away her unique choice in attire. Unfortunately, this also paved the way for Sheperd to perform the most hideous dance moves this side of Elaine Benes. Full body dry-heave indeed.tw_cWhile the film’s misfires are numerous, the first worth mentioning is the cover art. It depicts a cold and unforgiving stare in the background with Julie’s character in a leather jacket and tights doing a split in mid-air while handling a bow-staff and screaming her face off. On first glance, it looks like she’s also wearing either heavy make-up or a mask over her eyes. All of this looks kinda cool. But upon closer inspection, it looks like the artist lost all concept of perspective when illustrating the character’s eyes, because they’re halfway down her head and bulging out of the sockets. She looks like Brian Peppers if he had ample cleavage and an Indigo Girls haircut.

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