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May 2010

Bitch Slap

cast: Erin Cummings, America Olivio, Julia Voth, and Michael Hurst

director: Rick Jacobson

96 minutes (18) 2009
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Icon DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 4/10
review by Danny O'Connor

Bitch Slap

This is a self-confessed, referential sexploitation B-movie - "..with [not so] revelatory use of tits and guns," says Michael Hurst who plays the 'ruthless underworld kingpin' named Gage. The front titles are overlaid onto clips from classic sexploitation movies of a bygone era. These and the bonus Behind Bitch Slap are the best things on the DVD. Perhaps the director thought he was setting out his stall by using the classic clips. He also invited comparison. My 4/10 rating shows the comparison was not in his movie's favour.

Bitch Slap is cursed by revealing both plot and character motivation in a bewildering number of flashbacks. Each subsequent flashback goes further and further back so that nine-tenths of the way into the movie we get to where the plot starts which was well past the time this viewer ceased to care.

The dialogue is execrable, the direction pointless and the motivation of the characters unfathomable. At the end of the first scene, the character we come to know as Trixie utters the line: "Oh my god. How did it come to this?" 96 minutes later, after more anti-climaxes than the whole slew of post-post ironic stereotypes that get bumped-off in the movie I was asking the same question.

Rick Jacobson directed Xena: Warrior Princess where the weight of postmodern irony didn't crush everything in its path as badly as in this movie. His work on Xena must have made him think he can direct woman-on-woman fight scenes which is the main premise of Bitch Slap. The movie proves he can't, not on this formulaic showing.

So, what's good about the movie? In the opening scene two 'hot women' step out of a car into the desert and are followed by a third hot woman dressed in a figure-hugging gold mini-dress. Then every non-desert scene where Trixie flaunts her figure in her male-pleasing fantasy outfits from the S&M bikini, to angel and nurse etc. Michael Hurst is the single credible acting talent on show. He is a pauper's (this is a no-budget movie don't forget) Sean Bean at his most louche and dissolute.

Then there's the faux lesbian lust in the desert caravan interrupted by a jealous lesbian lover where all three leading ladies get to emote. Let's not forget the outdoor lesbian throwing water about scene where all three hot women get their wet close-ups for no apparent plot reason whatsoever.

And the lesbian fight scenes? In the 'B-movie' bonus film the female fight director discusses the problem of getting female actors to perform credible on-screen fight scenes. Let's just say that the dictats of sexploitation overwhelmed her valiant efforts at what passes for film fight realism. Oh, and the wondrous Kevin Sorbo (an old buddy from Xena) was doled out an almost invisible cameo for his day of shooting. I failed to recognise him in his 'corpse' scene.

Rick Jacobson and his fellow co-writer and co-producer (they put up their own money for this) have devoured every reel of film Quentin Tarantino ever made. When they stole a whole cornucopia of the auteur's cinematic conceits for this film they failed to glean even a smidgeon of the great man's dash and ´┐Żlan. Instead they served up an unpalatable melange which failed to rise above the movie's self-imposed obstacles as the sexploitation wasn't exploitative enough and the irony crashed heavier than a Led Zeppelin.

DVD extras: Behind Bitch Slap: 'building a better B-movie' featurette, and a trailer.



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