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Case Number 26976: Small Claims Court

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Force: Five (1981)

Scorpion Releasing // 1981 // 96 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 15th, 2014

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson is a Force: One.

The Charge

From the man who brought you Gymkata: another dumb movie.

The Case

By "dumb," I of course mean "better than you deserve." Released in 1981, Force: Five tells the touching true (or not) story of a top-secret mission to rescue a Senator's daughter from the clutches of a megalomaniacal cult leader. Tasked to infiltrate the compound is lantern-jawed Jim Morton (Joe Lewis), a crackerjack agent with a talent for hand-to-hand combat and an unwavering desire to serve both his country and the political hacks that occupy it's highest chambers.

His crew includes the big and tough Lockjaw, a small, dangerous man named Billy Ortega, the lethal enchantress Cindy, and Ezekiel (Richard Norton), the Australian hot-head. This deeply impressive combat unit is inserted undercover into the cult, and work to track down and evac the daughter before something really terrible happens.

Director Robert Clouse test-drives his mojo on this martial arts extravaganza before ascending to the pinnacle of the craft with his masterwork, Gymkata. The result is, unfortunately, middling. The potential was there for a memorable B-movie gem, but a lackadaisical pace and not enough dated lunacy holds it back.

Still, there is some fun to be had—and that fun lies almost exclusively in the composition of the team itself. Let's take a deeper dive:

Jim Morton
He's the leader and he doesn't take crap from anyone. The first man the government goes to when something dirty needs doing (even through it appears he can't elevate his leg over his shoulder during kicks), Morton is the one man the rest of the team listens to. His hair is fantastic.
Personal Highlight: What's the best way to recruit a woman who lives by herself? Sneak into her house and pretend you're a rapist! Chicks dig that approach.

The lithe Richard Norton infuses this stud-of-the-group with the kind of garbled with that one would associate with a kung-fu surfer or, perhaps, a drunk. But when the chips are down, you want Ezekiel by your side because, frankly, he appears to be the only member of the team that can perform a martial arts move without tearing his labrum.
Personal Highlight: The guy flips out in a pool hall and you know what that means: gratuitous shots of cues being broken over the backs of stunt men.

Smart, beautiful and prone to fighting in her nightgown, Cindy offers the requisite sexual tension for Jim, while also filling the important role of breaking up the wiener-fest. During the mission she plays a key role in securing the Senator's daughter, but doesn't fight nearly enough to be a true femme fatale.
Personal Highlight: has to be her forgiving nature. One minute she's in the battle for her life against what she thinks is a would-be sexual predator; the next, she's making out with him.

He's a huge, mean black dude with a GI Joe name.
Personal Highlight: He kills the guy who played Thorg in Gymkata.

Billy Ortega
Built like a fire hydrant and sporting the personality of a Cheezit, Billy may rival Ezekial in his martial artistry. What sets him apart is the fact he kind of looks like a porcelain doll with a bowl cut.
Personal Highlight: None.

Scorpion's DVD is simple: an okay-looking 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, 2.0 stereo and no extras.

The Verdict

Missed opportunity. Guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 70

Perp Profile

Studio: Scorpion Releasing
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 1981
MPAA Rating: Rated R
• Action
• Adventure

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb

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