Scorpion Releasing // 1984 // 82 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis // March 20th, 2013
In this part of the city, every street is a dead end.
The more I look back on the 1980s, the decade becomes less about parachute pants and terrible hair and more about fear. Whether that was fear of the Commies, fear of Satanists molesting preschoolers, or fear of razor blades in Halloween candy, everything seems to have been punctuated by the horrible things that can happen to the unwary citizens who aren't paranoid about everything and everybody they run across. These feelings of fear and paranoia were represented most strongly in the decade's action cinema, where vigilante justice was seen as the heroic answer to the violence that had overtaken the streets. The best of these, like Dirty Harry or Death Wish, were gritty and realistic dramas but most of them, especially of the exploitation variety, were just plain silly. A perfect example of this is Alley Cat, a cheap and downright pathetic excuse for an action film.
Billie (Karin Mani, Avenging Angel) is a tough young woman who can take care of herself, but knows that not everybody is so able. So, when she comes across a couple of thugs trying to assault a prostitute, she takes the law into her own hands, beating them up and saving the woman before calling the police. They arrive, with Billie's rookie cop boyfriend and veteran partner on the beat, and arrest the perps, but the veteran decides to show Billie who's boss by arresting her, as well. By way of a lie-filled report by the arresting officer, she receives a harsher sentence than the rapists. After they get back at her by killing her grandmother, she decides to get final revenge against them and their boss by exacting justice that the law won't provide.
Alley Cat has little value for anybody other than the most hardened exploitation fans, but if you're looking for a low-tier version of a Cynthia Rothrock movie, you're in luck. As the movie progresses, Billie is working her way to her black belt in karate, but clearly her dojo hands those out like stickers on election day. Her moves are extremely awkward and nearly every one of them is accompanied by a missing frame to hide the fact that she isn't really doing anything.
With all the sexual assault and police corruption, it seems to aim at being mean-spirited, but it's much too silly a film to do anything but laugh. It was originally a Filipino production that ran out of money and was picked up and finished by the American distributor, so it has three credited directors (Victor Ordonez, Ed Palmos, and Al Valetta, none of who did much else), which makes the aimlessness of the film make a lot of sense. The acting is awful across the board and the story is no better, but it's those stunts that really take the cake. This is poor work, all around, and barely worth watching, even for the most die-hard exploitation fan.
Alley Cat comes to us on DVD from Scorpion Releasing, in their "Katarina's Kat Skratch Cinema" collection. Similar to their horror line of releases, the movie is hosted by former wrestler Katarina Waters, who delivers a silly but fun intro and outro to the film. We received a screener copy for review, but it's likely identical to the release version. The 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer looks fairly good, with a reasonable clean up job on the print. There's some damage to the print here and there, but it's mostly clean with a natural grain structure and no digital errors to speak of. The stereo mix is noise-free and has perfectly clear dialog, but is nothing particularly special. The sole extra is a fine interview with music supervisor Igo Kantor, who goes into some detail about the film, but he mostly focuses on his lengthy career in exploitation.
Alley Cat is an incredibly dumb movie, but it's a fair bit of fun. It has all the stupidity of a terrible exploitation film, with a bunch of second-rate martial arts action and some amusingly seedy performances from a group of no name performers. Fans of low rent '80s action will get a kick out of the movie, but everybody else can take a pass.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Scorpion Releasing
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 82 Minutes
Release Year: 1984
MPAA Rating: Rated R