Perra Maldita (Damned Bitch)

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“This cheap Mexi-trash is fun to view, though if you don’t speak Spanish, may lose some depth.”

Camelia (Palmer) sees her way out of the ghetto in Ramiro (Saenz), a friend of her father’s who always has more than enough easy money. She convinces him to employ her as an apprentice, but discovers she likes sharing his life of drug-deals and casual slaughter. But they soon find out, they may not be the only ones capable of a good double-cross…

The translated title is appropriate, whether she’s gunning down rivals or being used as a wager in a card game. Perhaps the most chilling thing is her taciturn acquiescence when she’s lost in the latter, which demonstrates how far her (originally virgin) character has come. Palmer certainly has a forceful presence that helps overcome obvious limitations on the action front; despite copious training montages, Camelia is much less effective and impressive with her fists than a gun. Then, her cold-blooded passion – I know that seems a contradiction in terms, but it’s the best way to describe it – can truly flower.

The script and acting are solid, with occasional moments of effectiveness where the film punches above its weight, such as her mentor explaining why you must always be ready for a quick escape. More of this kind of depth would have been welcome, as would, I confess, subtitles: even Chris had a hard time with the gutter slang frequently used here, and without a translator, you’ll miss details like Camelia’s family heritage, which is steeped in blood too. These factors likely prevent this from getting the seal of approval; but on the whole, the performances are surprisingly credible, and this is the best girls-with-guns example of Mexploitation we’ve seen to date.

Dir: Tono Chavez
Star: Valeria Palmer, Fernando Saenz, Eleazar Garcia Jr.

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