REVIEW: Bitch Slap [2009]

“Lusting after strapping Latvian gymnasts”

What did I just watch? To say Bitch Slap is an oddity would be an understatement. Half soft-core porn without the nudity and half blood-soaked action orgy, Rick Jacobson’s film is a fourteen year old’s wet dream. Sitting through it is like watching a movie from the mind of Donald Kaufman, the fictional brother in Charlie Kaufman’s Adaptation, putting action and sex above any semblance of quality acting or coherent storytelling. I laughed throughout and do believe that reaction was intended despite it’s attempts at surprising its audience with multiple twists and turns in a plot of espionage and double-crossing. There is absolutely no way you could take any of those heist aspects seriously, though, not when every free moment has the camera slow down to show off the actresses’ prevalent assets before having to listen to the comically perverse language being spoken. Complete with cat screech sound effects when one of the leads gets punched in her privates, proclaiming the flick as tongue-in-cheek may be the biggest oversimplification ever.

The story involves three scantily clad women—two bad-asses on the trail of a bag of diamonds and one naïve and vulnerable stripper caught in the middle. The trio has kidnapped a pimp who works for the mythical Pinky, a gangster no one has ever seen yet whom all fear. Michael Hurst plays Gage over-the-top and theatrical as he is abused in order to spill the location of the stones, all the while wise-cracking and throwing his sexual innuendos at the girls. He begins to make mention of Camero in a way that seems to surprise the other two, ushering in the weirdly conceived construct of flashbacks to the story. Periodically sprinkled throughout the rest of the movie, these glimpses into the past also progressively get further and further away, humorously going from ‘4 hours earlier’ to ‘4 hours and 3 minutes earlier’ to ‘3.17 months ago’. The gimmick is just one more reason to put a smile on your face and hopefully deflect the fact that the acting and script is pretty much atrocious. Jacobson and company at least realize that if they can’t give us a well-made piece of cinema, at least they can keep us entertained.

And there is no denying that fact; I did have fun with this thing. Despite the increasingly convoluted screenplay, turning these women into spies, cold-blooded killers, and insanely imbalanced human beings on what seem like whims, you cannot deny the effectiveness of watching three maybe sex workers and possible lesbians at varying levels of attractiveness seducing and kicking each others’ asses. There is no straight male on the planet that wouldn’t willfully check Bitch Slap out for that level alone; it’s just unfortunate that the film offers little else. Besides the present time locale of a desert wasteland, the rest of the movie is obviously shoddily shot in front of a green screen, giving the flashbacks a cartoonish feel that doesn’t suit it. Then there is the cast of eccentric miscreants such as William Gregory Lee’s mohawked and Tourettes afflicted Hot Wire and his razor-yoyo swinging sex kitten Kinki played by Minae Noji. This stuff cannot be made up—it all needs to come from the minds of some very strange people. The fact it even got a limited release in theatres kind of stuns me, but its debut in the Midnight Madness series at the 2009 Toronto Film Festival could have been one helluva time.

Through all the craziness, though, you have to give some credit to the three leads for giving it their all and having fun. Erin Cummings’s Hel is the self-anointed leader of the troupe, slowly being found out to be playing the other two for her own gains. Able to talk her way out of any situation, having the knowledge to use prototype military weaponry, and unafraid to engage in fisticuffs with anyone in her way, Hel is a badass with a purpose, definitely seeking the diamonds but surely looking for more than she’s letting on. Camero, played by America Olivo, is a role that showcases her ability to go absolutely postal. It’s not like she’s the greatest actress in the world, but when her facial ticks and itch to punch anything in her way kicks in, she becomes the funniest thing ever. A couple of extended fight scenes later—choreographed by none other than Zoe Bell, whom I’m surprised didn’t take a larger role in the film itself—and you’ve realized not much has happened except for the fact these two women have traded kicks, bruises, and cuts, all while getting bloodied and dirty. All this happens after the slomo sequence of them pouring ample amounts of water over each other. Yeah, that happened.

At least the film knows what it is and never tries to be more. I can’t deny it tried something different and definitely succeeded in its goal to titillate the 12-18 demographic of boys it most certainly aims for. It may be R-rated, but it’s nevertheless looking at that age group to find a way to watch it, either by viewing with a parental figure who sees it as a legitimate alternative to porn or catching a glimpse while they are away. That level of cheap thrill is the only reason I can think why anyone would ever watch it again; one time is definitely enough for me so that I can at least say I gave it a try. There is a sort of charm to the campiness and eventual absurdity of the covert spy plotlines later introduced, especially with the inspired choices of having cameos by both Hercules and Xena, (Kevin Sorbo and Lucy Lawless). If I’m going to take anything away from Bitch Slap, however, it will be the stunning beauty of Julia Voth as the innocent waif—or is she—Trixie. By far the most attractive of all involved, her character’s transformation at the end leads you to believe that her horrid acting at the start may have been just that, an act. Either way, the ability to see Voth onscreen for almost the entire duration definitely made the rest tolerable.

Bitch Slap 4/10 | ★ ½

[1] Erin Cummings stars as Hel and America Olivo stars as Camero in IM Global and Epic Slap’s Bitch Slap (2010)
Copyright © IM Global and Epic Slap. All Rights Reserved.
[2] Julia Voth stars as Trixie in IM Global and Epic Slap’s Bitch Slap (2010)
Copyright © IM Global and Epic Slap. All Rights Reserved.


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