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Case Number 08536

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Ragin' Cajun

Troma // 1991 // 90 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 7th, 2006

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All Rise...

Judge David Johnson wishes his Italian/Scandinavian/English heritage could be paired with a cool, rhyming adjective.

The Charge

Boxing and killing were the easy parts.

Opening Statement

A Troma movie without nudity or gore or giant worms bursting from someone's pants? Can this be so?

Facts of the Case

Cage (David Heavener, Twisted Justice) is a Vietnam vet, emotionally fragile and plagued with horrific memories from the war. He's also a brutally successful kickboxer who decimates his competitors in the ring. But when he is overcome by the psychological effects of his time in the war, his boxing career suffers, and one fight finds him buckling under the pressure, and severely hammered by his opponent.

Useless to the world, Cage heads to a VFW hospital, where he attempts to work through the deep trauma. With the aid of a psychiatrist and his equally-disturbed buddy, Cage eventually leaves and attempts to start his life over. He lands back at his apartment, which has been lovingly taken care of by his friend (Charlene Tilton), a beautiful, aspiring country singer.

Together, the two form a romantic relationship, while Cage continues to cope with the visions and panic attacks that still menace him. Music becomes his lifeline. But kickboxing is not through with him yet. A slimy fight promoter seeks to make some serious coin by pitting Cage against a reigning champion, and will get him into the ring no matter how reluctant he is. And if that means kidnapping his girlfriend, so be it.

Only one thing he didn't bet on: this Cajun's about to be ragin'.

The Evidence

If you bought this disc expecting the usual buffet of tasteless Troma buffoonery, you will most definitely be disappointed. This is certainly the tamest of Troma-distributed films I've ever seen—nary a vampire lesbian make-out scene in sight! Ragin' Cajun is a small movie about one man's grappling with the after-effects of war, capped by a brief bout of kickboxing and a nighttime car chase.

I laud the film for its respectful and committed attempt at exploring how post-war trauma can dramatically impact a man's life, but the bottom-feeding execution ultimately torpedoes the flick.

The storyline is threadbare and derivative: dude is @#$%-ed up, meets a nice girl, dude feels better, the two kids fall in love, there's a super-cheesy love montage, bad guy kidnaps dude's girlfriend, dude is forced to fight again, bad guy gets his comeuppance at the end.

The acting is more or less laughable. David Heavener—looking like a hybrid of Willem Dafoe and Mario Lopez in his Saved by the Bell days—tries his best, but his painful emoting is, well, painful. He can scream and curl into a ball with the best of them, but for a Cajun supposedly ragin', his big "unleashed" moments lack considerable electricity. Charlene Tilton doesn't fare much better as the good-willed country singer, and when both of these two are together we're talking piss-poor daytime soap material.

And don't get me started on the music. For a kickboxing film, there's an awful lot of music set-pieces, the worst by far being Cage's park bench guitar-strumming which suddenly transfers into a sweeping ballad complete with a fully produced background score.

Finally, the action scenes, what little there are, turn out to be disappointingly stilted and poorly shot. The film is book-ended by these sequences (yes, sadly, leaving the majority of screen-time in the hands of the dramatic, probing elements), and the climactic bout is clunky and slow-paced. I can appreciate what Ragin' Cajun wanted to do, but the thing didn't work for me.

Troma gives it a full frame transfer with struggling picture clarity; Colors are jumpy and uneven. A hollow 2.0 stereo mix works the sound with mediocre success. This high point of the disc is the extras. There's an interview with Rocky director John Avildsen, along with a brief sit-down with Heavener, and an interview with Lloyd Kaufman, talking about boxing movies. Trailers and a 30 minute old-school Comedy Central piece called "The Troma System of Self-Improvement" bat clean-up.

Closing Statement

This Cajun doesn't have nearly enough ragin' for my tastes.

The Verdict

Throw in the towel buddy.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 70
Audio: 75
Extras: 85
Acting: 55
Story: 70
Judgment: 65

Perp Profile

Studio: Troma
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 1991
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Action
• Drama

Distinguishing Marks

• Interview with John Avildsen
• Interview with David Heavener
• Lloyd Kaufman on Boxing Movies
• "The Troma System of Self Improvement"
• Trailers
• "Make Your Own Damn Movie!"

Accomplices

• IMDb








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