A purposefully trashy throwback to the grindhouse exploitation flicks of the 70‘s, Bitch Slap manages to be surprisingly entertaining. I expected the film to be terrible, especially if compared the brilliant blaxploitation parody of Black Dynamite. It’s not quite in the same league as Black Dynamite, but it isn’t a straight parody; it’s more of a loving homage to the genre. More than anything, Bitch Slap is about breasts, asses, and violence.
The film is told in a series of flashbacks, which seem rather gimmicky towards the beginning but won me over in the end. Bitch Slap is the story of three scantily clad women searching for hidden treasure. Being scantily clad is of great importance here-certainly of more importance than the plot-as the camera lingers longingly on each of them; where another film might replay a shot three times to show off a particularly cool stunt, Bitch Slap does it while replaying a shot of cleavage. The result is a very cheesy affair, but the film knows exactly what it’s trying to be, and the objectification is so over the top I couldn’t help but laugh. There are also a lot of nods to other films (from Robocop to They Call Her One Eye) and many little pop-culture references that may bring a smile if you catch them.
The women take an active role in objectifying each other, slinging insults bound to offend the politically correct viewer. It’s been a while since I heard a woman refer to another woman as an “axewound” or a “glam canyon”. It doesn’t hurt the film; the target audience will probably laugh, and anyone who’s not in the target audience will probably hate the film anyway.
There are only a couple of men in the film and they play roles of little importance; the focus here is entirely on the women. There are some funny plot twists thrown in amongst the bickering, lesbian makeouts, and catfights. There’s a fair amount of violence that really amps up as the film moves along. Expect swords, bladed yo-yos, and lots of fisticuffs.
The fights are choregraphed by Zoe Bell, a stunt woman who recently starred in her own film Angel of Death. Bell also worked on Xena: Warrior Princess as Lucy Lawless’s stunt double.There are a lot of cameos from Xena and Hercules; you’ll catch Lucy Lawless, Renee O’Connor, Kevin Sorbo, and possibly others. I was never a big fan of Xena but the cameos are fun and will likely be of interest to fans of those shows. Bell herself has a brief cameo as a fighter.
Fans of the exploitation genre will find a lot to like here. The T&A is excessive and often funny, the violence is pretty well-done and gets a bit gory, and the plot twists are so over the top I found myself laughing at them too. It may not be quite as stellar as Black Dynamite, but it’s a much better film than I expected and it succeeds on it’s own terms.