CONTAINS SPOILERS AND DEROGATORY INSINUATIONS ABOUT TEENAGE BOYS
I like exploitation movies. I don't live for them and I like to ensure they're only part of my film diet, but generally I'm all in favour of trashy horror, fantasy and nonsense with a healthy dose of sex, gore and/or silliness. But that doesn't mean quality isn't important: just because a film isn't aimed at Oscar voters and Guardian readers doesn't mean you can just shovel any old rubbish onto the screen and get away with it. Sadly, mass audiences appear to be all too content with the cheap and shoddy and the second-rate, and seem perfectly willing to accept rotten levels of film-making if it's got enough splatter and naked women in it. Even back in 1983 there was far better trash than this.
The Lost Empire is a moronic wank fantasy aimed at teenaged boys with low standards who'll watch absolutely anything if there's enough skin and blood and some ass-kicking going on: it's a film tailored precisely to that undiscriminating demographic, and who really cares if it makes absolutely no sense? Three women - a cop, a Native American and a convict - team up to participate in a martial arts tournament on a remote private island (yes, we've all seen Enter The Dragon) to avenge the death of the cop's brother in a robbery, and to unmask an immortal demon (Angus Scrimm from the Phantasm series) who seeks the legendary Twin Eyes Of Avatar so he can enslave the Earth or something.
It's absolute bunk. The acting and script are absolutely terrible and it feels like every so often it has to shoehorn in some kind of kinkiness or excuse for nudity. There's a shower scene, a mud-wrestling scene, a medical examination, a topless bit with a giant snake, a tarantula crawling over a scantily clad woman, and lots of running around in leather bikinis. The action and fight sequences are as lame as the cheap monster effects towards the end, but so what? The girls have all got big bouncy jugs and don't mind showing them off. If you're watching the movie for any reason other than the most basic and primal, it's a total failure.
It's the first film by the prolific Jim Wynorski whose CV is groaning with titles like Cheerleader Massacre, The Bare Wench Project and Busty Coeds Vs Lusty Cheerleaders. I can't say for most of his 90-title filmography (more than Alfred Hitchcock and David Lean put together), which doesn't appear to have had huge distribution in the UK (Chopping Mall was kind of fun) but this early entry is, in all honesty, on a level with Fred Olen Ray at his most downmarket: not only is it no good, it's not even any fun. It hardly matters that the UK DVD is in the wrong ratio (people are cropped off the edge of the screen throughout) with poor picture quality.