There’s nothing remotely original about this low budget, girl vs. girl B-movie actioner, and the first third of it is admittedly something of a slog. But around about the halfway mark it suddenly slides into gear, and the filmmakers do at least make an attempt at springing a few surprises in the final act - the result of which is a rather more satisfying film than you might anticipate.
Rebecca (Johnston) is an ex-fight club champion who deserted her home, her boyfriend and her family after her father (Lundgren) was imprisoned for murder five years ago, and now works looking after abandoned dogs and dreams of running away to Africa. But when she gets a visit from her sister Kate (Palm), in debt to a local mobster and preparing to go back into the ring unprepared to try and absolve herself of it, Bex must swallow her pride in order to train up a willing but undistinguished group of female fighters or risk losing her family all over again.
It goes without saying that there’s a fair bit of fighting in the film, but perhaps just a touch less than you’d expect (although Lundgren, in what amounts to an extended cameo, does get his own five minutes towards the climax; he’s actually pretty good in this). Director Miguel Ferrer, in his only feature to date, instead tries to concentrate on the relationship between his characters, and although they’re necessarily a bit obvious, they’re considerably less thin than they might have been. These do feel almost like real people, and that often isn’t the case at this level of movie-making.
And the fighting, when it does come, is fast and brutal and convincing, and those looking for visceral kicks will not be disappointed - there are plenty of ripped female muscle on display, which is surely the reason to watch this. Those expecting a Rocky-esque resolution to the story’s dilemmas though will find themselves confounded, as Ferrer and co-screenwriter Anastazja Davis evidently decided that would have been a cliché too far, and so provide us with something no less formulaic, but at least less predictable instead. The last shot of the film is nicely staged too.
It’s hard to single out any of the actors as particularly impressive, as despite everyone’s hard work there are very few moments of spontaneous authenticity; that said, Rey Goyos does make for an oddly charismatic and almost plausible villain, while Amy Johnston proves herself more than capable of holding the attention throughout what could have been a terribly slight film.
Those drawn in by the title will probably not be disappointed, but this might actually end up rewarding casual viewers a little more than they might predict, too.
FEMALE FIGHT CLUB (AKA FEMALE FIGHT SQUAD) / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: MIGUEL A. FERRER / SCREENPLAY: ANASTAZJA DAVIS, MIGUEL A. FERRER / STARRING: AMY JOHNSTON, CORTNEY PALM, SEAN FARIS, DOLPH LUNDGREN, REY GOYOS / RELEASE DATE: MARCH 26TH