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The Third Society soundtrack

soundtrack CD by
Emily O'Neary Band

Doesn't Matter Anyway
Angel Tonight [vocal]
It's A Beautiful Day
Power Of Love
Why You Wanna
Till The Morning
Angel Tonight [instrumental]
Red Line

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The Third Society
cast: J.A. Steel, Sonya Eddy, Russell Van Brown, Shannon Clay and Benny Tjandra

writer and director: J.A. Steel

83 minutes (R) 2001
Warrior DVD Region 1 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Jeff Young
As the writer, producer, director, editor and star of her debut feature The Third Society, Jacquelyn Ruffner (alias: J.A. Steel) is a one-woman film company and obviously a genre director to watch out for. Playing (uncredited) the central role of hardboiled LAPD officer Jones, Jacque strikes just the right balance of tough, laconic attitude and sassy dialogue to make this film such a worthwhile millennial addition to the B-movie canon. Jones is a cop with a secret past (and new identity courtesy of the federal witness protection programme), who is out for vengeance against the Asian gangsters that killed her mother years earlier, when 'Jones' was a little girl. She's a tough yet flawed action heroine, in the no-bullshit manner of Sybil Danning in L.A. Bounty (1989).
   Shot entirely on location in California, and Queensland, Australia, The Third Society is a rough revenge drama with glossy pop-video aesthetics and a notable rock soundtrack including five great songs by the Emily O'Neary band. However, although the monosyllabic, diehard Jones is very much the antithesis of a bland Charlie's Angels style of girl power, and this film boasts a striking visual appeal, good humoured jokes, and admirable use of irony, there are numerous problems with the film's confusing pace changes, repetitive flashbacks, lapses in continuity and an intrusive voiceover narration which means the plot is presented - almost in a crime documentary fashion - rather than being acted out dramatically. The seemingly 'random' storytelling technique used is somewhat like music sampling applied to moving pictures - with foreshadowing, interruptions and 'diversions' that switch the film's mood or mode at odd moments to quite jarring effect. This directing and editing style is unusual, even in independent American movies (so it's no wonder that a number of US reviewers were either indifferent to or baffled by the film, claiming its maker has a tenuous grip on narrative and logic), but it's common in European cinema - so, perhaps, The Third Society could find a niche market there. I hope so, as this is evidence of a promising filmmaking talent who only needs encouragement to succeed.
   Of particular interest is Shannon Clay who plays Jones' sister, Erica, a banking official whom the bad guys kidnap in order to complete a big money transfer. She gives the gun-toting henchmen a severe tongue lashing despite incessant threats of bodily violence, in one of the film's most entertaining dialogue scenes. There's also delightfully fetishistic cinematography of action thriller hardware, including handguns, motorbikes, flashy cars, an executive jet plane and a small helicopter, best viewed in a runway chase sequence that was probably very difficult to shoot on such a no-budget production as this. If you like Andy Sidaris movies, but have grown tired of watching pneumatic bimbos pretend they can shoot and fight, The Third Society is a treat because its star is a genuine kickboxer and an expert with guns. Anyway, how can anyone resist an action movie that gives screen credits to God, and the heroine's favourite chewing gum?
   DVD extras: two music videos, amusing behind-the-scenes footage, and a trailer.

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