Color, 1992, 85 mins. 31 secs. / 80 mins. 18 secs.
Directed by Joel D. Wynkoop
Starring Joel D. Wynkoop, David Bardsley, David Lurry, Christine Seisler
Saturn's Core Audio & Video (Blu-ray) (US RA0 HD) / WS (1.85:1) (16:9)
An insanely prolific actor and sometimes director on the micro-budget horror scene, Joel D. Wynkoop got his start with roles for DIY pioneer Tim Ritter in films like Killing Spree before moving on to his own oddball labors of love, often with his own name as part of the title. One of his earliest and craziest headliner projects was starring in, writing, producing, and directing Lost Faith, an adorably deranged ode to martial arts action films involving a cast with, shall we say, extremely limited martial arts skills. Prepare to scratch your head, laugh out loud, and gasp in admiration at this shot-on-video wonder cooked up around Ft. Pierce, Florida, with Wynkoop even doing the honors of belting out the theme song, "Photogenic Woman." Ritter fans will be happy to note the man himself turns up here as "Security" and also served as the boom operator, makeup effects artist, and "creative cunsultant" [sic], while lots of local businesses get thanked including "martial arts outfitting by Pro Kickboxing Supplys of West Palm Beach."
Wynkoop himself synopsizes his film as follows: "A guy loses his wife and his faith in God, has to track down his wife and save her on a deserted island, battle 15-20 guys, get his faith back in God, and beat the bad guys." To be more detailed, Steve Nekoda (Wynkoop)-- who spends his afternoons practicing karate in his backyard and driving around to German synth music-- is happily married to a fashion model wife who really hates being late for her appointments. When his wife insists on doing a second unscheduled modeling shoot, he goes off to roam the beach and scour the local video store, where he rents the entire Chuck Norris section and shows off a big close-up plug for Ritter's Twisted Illusions. Unfortunately it turns out the modeling agency that afternoon was a front for a human trafficking ring with women shipped off to an island for... prostitution, or porn, or something. Steve scuffles with the police and renounces his faith in God, which seems like bad timing considering he has to lock horns with the "Master" (Bardsley) running the whole operation with his squad of fighter minions.
Complete with camcorder handheld jungle mayhem, cops making Sasquatch jokes, and frizzy-haired women in captive, Lost Faith is a truly baffling and highly entertaining experience if you're in the right frame of mind. God only knows what your average action fan might think stumbling across a copy of this, and its treatment of Christian faith is a real head scratcher at best. However, as a shot-on-video piece of idiosyncratic action fare, this one delivers the good with loads of screaming, fight poses, thrown kicks, and loudmouth villain who walks around yelling things like "Arrange the women! I wish to speak to them now!"
As with a lot of Wynkoop's other work, this one was self-distributed (barely) on VHS and eventually given a limited 2012 DVD release from "Cult Movie Mania Releasing," his short-lived label that also released his 2005 movie, The Bite. The 2022 Blu-ray from Saturn's Core Audio & Video will likely be the first opportunity for most folks to watch this one, and it's stuffed to the brim with goodies including two versions of the film: the original release version and a "newly unearthed" extended director's cut running six minutes longer. Quality is very VHS-y as you'd expect (with optional English SDH subtitles for the mono audio), with the original VHS version also featuring a commentary by Wynkoop and assistant director/actor Sean McCarthy about the very long writing process and shooting in South Florida. It's worth noting that the two versions are edited very differently, with the VHS version featuring a quick island chase teaser and then jumping right into the cops investigating the abduction without any of the establishing couple material. The director's cut also comes with an optional video poolside intro by Wynkoop (6m51s), who also figures prominently in the VHS-era "Stay Hungry: The Making of Lost Faith" (61m22s) pushing the film's status as a local production. Also included are a lengthy VHS-sourced reel of dailies and behind the scenes footage (93m6s), plus a fun reel of archival TV news interviews and appearances (49m4s) with the filmmaker pitching the concept behind the film and issuing a casting call for his martial arts epic with comedy bits and a religious message. Following that are an alternate "flashback" opening (2m11s) and ending (1m44s) with the Nekoda character telling the entire tale to a reporter... who's about to interview Chuck Norris. Then you get 1979's The Set Up (8m24s), an early Wynkoop Super 8 film cited as an inspiration for the main feature, and Marcus Kempton's 2018 short film Nekoda (32m34s) with Wynkoop returning as the spiritual avenger helping a kid in peril. You also get to see Wynkoop hanging out at Screamfest 2007 (19m) including appearances by Shawnee Smith and Bill Hinzman and lots of plugs for Strippers vs. Zombies, followed by a Wynkoop audition reel (20m17s) that features extensive use of prop glasses and kicks off with a great indie video store pitch. Finally the disc closes out with a trailer and TV spot for the main feature, plus bonus trailers for Burglar from Hell, Mail Order Murder: The Story of W.A.V.E. Productions, Psycho Sisters, Duck! The Carbine High Massacre.
Reviewed on January 31, 2022.