Raven Hawk

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“But is it Raven Hawk or Ravenhawk? “

ravenhawkThe sleeve and the IMDB seem to differ. Either way… In 1979, young Native American Rhyia Shadowfeather is forced to watch as her parents, opposed to the building of an industrial plant on native land, are killed in front of her. Rhyia, sent catatonic by the shock, is framed for the murders and sent to an asylum. 12 years later, the van transferring her to another facility crashes, and the adult Rhyia (McLish) is presumed killed. Except, of course, she’s still alive, and seizes the chance to extract vengeance on those responsible, who have profited from the plant, which was constructed after the opposition was disposed of, and is now belching pollution into the environment. Top of the food chain there is Philip Thorne (Atherton), but on Rhyia’s trail is federal marshal Del Wilkes (Enos), who may be on thin ice, investigating on the reservation.

McLish is a former bodybuilder, who was a two-time Ms. Olympia, and was featured in Pumping Iron II: The Women. Pyun seems to have something of a “thing” for those – see also Sue Price in Nemesis 4, but at least McLish doesn’t the same neo-alien look to her. Chiseled out of stone, certainly, but cinematographer George Mooradian does a good job of simply making her look fit. Indeed, credit Mooradian for a film that looks an awful lot better than most TV movies, taking full advantage of the spectacular landscapes and scenery (both physical and biological!). Some of it was shot here in Arizona, in and around Page, most notably the Glen Canyon Dam Bridge from which one of her targets topples; it’s a long way down, since the bridge was the highest arch bridge in the world when it was completed in the late fifties.

Probably wisely, the script doesn’t give McLish many lines, leaving the chat to the rest of the cast, a solid bunch of character actors, including Mitch Pileggi (The X Files). The story generally works well, the villains growing steadily more and more disturbed as the body count grows, Shadowfeather apparently able to vanish like a ghost. It is a little heavy on the “tormented and put-upon Indians” angle – yeah, I get it, give them a casino or something and let’s all move on. Disappointingly, Shadowfeather is also robbed of her ultimate vengeance, a strange scripting decision that significantly devalues everything which has gone before. However, it remains generally solid, and you’re left with a vague sense of disappointment that McLish didn’t keep on with the action flicks. She’s certainly no worse here than a certain other body-builder was, in his early genre efforts.

Dir: Albert Pyun
Star: Rachel McLish, John Enos III, Ed Lauter, William Atherton

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