Bitch Slap - A Movie Review

By Moira Sullivan
To tell you the truth I didn’t know what I was getting into when I saw Bitch Slap at the Stockholm Film Festival in November. The three actors in the film came on stage to introduce the screening and were quite sporting about the questions that they received from the audience, and as I later understood, obviously hadn’t seen the film.

Julia Voth, Erin Cummins, and America Olivo play Trixie, Hel and Camero in this retro female exploitation film directed by Rick Jacobson. I didn’t know that he had directed installments of Hercules and Xena:Warrior Princess before hand (as well as played the part of Poseidon in "Xena") so I was surprised to see Kevin Sorbo, showing up as a tough guy, and Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor as nuns and in the spirit of the female exploitation genre. Cameos, all the same but a lot of fun to meet up with these super heroes.

The name of the film Bitch Slap is a slang expression which basically means, that if you are hit by a woman it won’t hurt as much as getting punched by a  man. You can see a bitch slap coming, they say. Wrong. Oh does it hurt. These three women beat the beatitudes out of the guys, and each other. And you don’t see it coming. You don’t see much of the film coming. These women are bad: a stripper, a drug pushing psychopath, and a corporate power broker. They wind up in the desert at a gas station with an underworld bad guy in the car trunk (Michael Hurst also from "Xena", and "Hercules" playing Iolaus). He is in for real trouble.  But it seems that the real enemies are the "bitches", and they begin to clobber the crap out of each other, with many surprises in store.

In a real gender bender with a queer subtext, the film is riddled with word plays, which according to Erin Cummins took a long time to learn and has increased the cult status of the film. Stunts are choreographed by the inimitable Zoë Bell, and the actresses perform martial arts with gusto and skill. This is not only fighting but spiritual conquest. It is hard to determine who is the more cunning fighter. Camero seems truly deadly, but Hel has a brain with punch and kick power. It’s a little irritating to watch Trixie play a forlorn wimp in counter point to Hel and Camero but it tickles the fancy as to why she would be in the midst of these baddies to begin with.There are some breathtaking shots, and jumps to other environments in a fast forward, back tracking non linear narrative. And the momentum of the film is fast and smart.

Bitch Slap portrays women as deadly fighters and defies all the conventions that require them to be rescued or conquered. Instead the tables are turned so completely and are so inspirational that a Bitch Slap 2 is in the works.

For Movie Magazine this is Moira Sullivan

© 2009 - Moira Sullivan - Air Date: 01/06/10
Movie Magazine International