Savage Sisters

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“Bit of an exaggeration, but Fairly Unpleasant Sisters likely wouldn’t have sold.”

This Philippino phlick doesn’t quite have the courage of its convictions, and is never quite sure whether it wants to be sexploitation or serious drama. The poster promises a lot more than the film actually delivers, which is a shame, as the performances from the three leading ladies are nicely judged – as well as refreshingly multicultural. Two of them (Caffaro and Ortiz, one Caucasian, the other “Oriental”) are sent to prison, but when their torturer (ex-Bond girl Hendry, who initially comes over almost like a Black Ilsa) discovers they may know the whereabouts of a million bucks in cash, she helps spring them, and the trio head off, along with a local hustler (Ashley).

Double-crosses abound, and it all ends in a massive gun-battle on the docks. If this sounds familiar, it’s because Black Mama, White Mama – also directed by Romero, and with Sid Haig as a slimeball – took a very similar route, two years previously. This is marginally more competent, though the attempts at comedy largely don’t work, and sit uneasily alongside the torture sequences, for example. But in the absence of Pam Grier, Hendry steps up nicely, in a role that could easily have been mere caricature, and delivers the right amount of amoral gung-ho.

Nobody’s going to mistake this for great art; even as exploitation, it’s not particularly…well, exploitative, earning its R-rating more through bad language than anything else. But it keeps moving, and is worth a look if you stumble across it on late-night cable.

Dir: Eddie Romero
Star: Gloria Hendry, Cheri Caffaro, Rosanna Ortiz, John Ashley

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