Sweet Revenge (1987) – By Jonathon Pernisek

Sweet Revenge has absolutely no idea what movie it wants to be, thus trying to be everything at once and failing miserably. The box art led me to believe I’d be watching a standard cheese-fest from the ‘80s, what with the scantily clad dames and a hero who’s hanging from a badly drawn helicopter. Then in the opening sequence a woman is gunned down while trying to climb over a barb wire fence, her back exploding in blood before her carcass slumped to the ground. Ah, I thought, perhaps I was mistaken. This movie is trying to be grisly and gory, ala Rambo.

And such a tone would have been fine…if it was consistent. After the credits rolled we’re introduced to Boone, a one-liner spouting perfume smuggler who is being pursued by a gentleman with a machine gun. Seems Boone is working in the territory of Cicero, a villain who we get a quick glimpse of during the opening. I could tell he was the villain because of the loud, brassy Evil Music playing as the camera panned up his menacing, suit-clad frame. Oh, and he’s played by Martin Landau, so you know he has to be one evil fella.

Anyway, back to Boone, whose theme song sounds suspiciously like a hybrid of Indiana Jones and Allan Quatermain. He’s running around like a pansy (arms literally flailing about) when he comes to the edge of a cliff. Now any normal person would just back up, but Boone does a decidedly wacky take by having his eyes bug out and extended leg twirling in the air. What movie does this character inhabit? Machine Gun Man shows up and delivers some bad dialogue shortly before being kicked in the gonads by our oh-so charming hero. Boone then ends the scene by mentioning Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (a much better movie than today’s feature) and jumping off the cliff.

Okay, so this is a rollicking swashbuckler! Great, fantastic, count me in for the fun. But wait, now we’re in Las Angeles, where Nancy Allen of Robocop fame is playing a husky-voiced reporter named Jillian Gray. She’s doing a story on the recent kidnappings of young women in the city, and she’s meeting with a mysterious Asian informant. She learns about our man Cicero and his white slavery ring that masquerades as a research facility (which we notice later is cleverly called The Cicero Research Foundation…right). Jillian leaves the informant just before he’s shot by a dastardly looking woman. This same woman then kills Jillian’s entire news crew. Wow, so we’re back to blood and guts, are we? Terrific.

The other big characters you must know about are three young ladies who are waiting to meet with a modeling agent. Their names aren’t important, so I’ll just refer to them as Dizzy, Kung-Fu, and Tomboy. When the modeling agent arrives, we as the audience are shocked to see it’s the dastardly woman from earlier in the film. Kung-Fu stupidly asks if they can discuss potential modeling jobs while the woman drives to the airport, which results in them, of course, being kidnapped.

Kung-Fu almost saves the day with her expert martial arts skills (a fact randomly inserted into a conversation so we’d know she can defend herself), but Dizzy’s life is threatened. Therefore, the girls are forced to be shipped to “Somewhere in the Far East,” a title card that had me cracking up.

Meanwhile, Jillian is putting her daughter to sleep in a paltry attempt at milking some sympathy from the viewers. Ah, she’s a working woman and a devoted mother! I sure do hope nothing bad happens in the next few minutes. Sure enough, just as Jillian’s husband is kissing her, Dastardly Woman and Machine Gun Man burst through the door and blow him to bits. It’s a good thing the husband wasn’t given any name or character development whatsoever, because then I might care about his being dead. Jillian’s daughter runs into the room just as her mother is being drugged. Whether or not this girl is kidnapped or killed is Jillian’s main motivation for escaping her captors.

In summary, the Tremendous Trio team up with Jillian and Boone to take down Cicero’s operation and save the precocious child. This is after a truly bizarre slavery auction which seems to take place on the set of a public access game show. The women strut about a stage lit by a gigantic hexagon, for crying out loud, and the M.C. for the auction looks oddly like Pat Sajak. Then there are the scenes of witty banter between the girls and Boone, as if the movie is going for a Charlie’s Angels­­-feel. Sweet Moses on a stick this movie is scatterbrained…

What really got me going was how blatantly the movie drops Jillian’s emotional ties to other characters. Even though her husband was shot in cold blood right in front of her, it doesn’t take long before she falls for Boone’s greasy charms. Then when she discovers her daughter has no hope of being found, her reaction is literally composed of blinking into space. Yeah Jillian, don’t get too attached. Of course, the daughter ends up being in America the entire time, so that subplot is completely pointless.

You can’t help but get frustrated with Sweet Revenge, which tries to be emotionally uplifting, pulse-pounding, and comedic all at once while achieving nothing whatsoever. I didn’t care about whether or not anyone lived or died, the action sequences were boring and repetitive, and what’s more, it’s making me ramble. Just know that it’s not worth your time, even by the standards set by the decade.