Color, 1986, 83m.
Directed by Cirio H. Santiago
Starring Cec Verrell, Bill McLaughlin, Joe Mari Avellana, Frederick Bailey
Code Red (Blu-ray) (US R0 HD) / WS (1.78:1) (16:9)
Color, 1986, 83m.
Easily the number one name in Filipino exploitation, Cirio H. Santiago churned out a seemingly endless string of action films both by himself and with the financial support of Roger Corman over the years. One of his most omnipresent '80s VHS titles, Silk, brings the style of '80s cop shows to the Philippines with amusingly cracked results.
Here we have the saga of Jenny "Silk" Sleighton (Verrell), a Honolulu cop who busts a robbery (with perps who yell "Eat my dust, pig!") and ends up trying to break up a smuggling ring that turns out to go higher up than she imagined. She runs afoul of a nasty plot from the mainland to take over the local crime scene since apparently some nasty yakuza members are using stolen local identities in Honolulu to get their members into America. Mostly that's an excuse for our heroine to shoot at and blow up as many targets as possible. Oh, and she has her own theme song. Of course.
This one was made at the height of the Santiago/Corman partnership at Concorde Pictures, which also resulted in titles like Wheels of Fire, The Sisterhood, Caged Fury, Demon of Paradise, and Equalizer 2000. All of those are a huge amount of fun, and this one definitely ranks up there with them on the junky pleasure scale. The Hawaii location (still really the Philippines, augmented with location stock footage) is a nice change of pace, and as usual, the secondary actors are largely dubbed even though they're speaking English (including lots of awkward profanity). However, that hardly matters considering you have Verrell at the center; complete with a fantastic '80s hairdo and a scorching gaze, she's a terrific leading lady here. It's a shame she was mostly relegated to minor TV roles, though you can also spot her in Hell Comes to Frogtown and Hollywood Vice Squad (as well as a tiny role in Runaway). Incredibly, this did well enough on home video spawn a sequel (also directed by Santiago) with Monique Gabrielle taking over starring duties.
Concorde handled the limited theatrical run for this film, which went on to oversized box glory on shelves throughout North America from MGM/UA. After that it essentially disappeared for decades, finally resurfacing in 2016 via a Blu-ray from Code Red sold exclusively through Screen Archives as a standalone release or a triple pack with The Devastator and Dune Warriors. Image quality is a massive improvement over the VHS, of course, and about on par with other '80s Santiago films. The film stock isn't the greatest with some fluctuations in shadow areas here and there, but overall it looks quite nice and about as close as you're likely to get to watching a nice fresh print. The Code Red release also runs a few seconds longer than the VHS with some bloodier bullet squibs and other mayhem scissored to get an R rating, though it's incredibly tame by today's standards. (However there is one brief cockfighting scene, so you can give up on this ever coming out uncut in the UK.) The sole extra is a 7-minute facts and trivia segment with hostess Katarina Leigh Waters, wearing a sheriff's star and firing a gun in every direction while offering credits for most of the folks in front of and behind the camera. (She also instructs you to watch an interview with the cinematographer, which doesn't seem to exist.) If you're craving an '80s action fest with zero nutritional value and lots of tasty calories, look no further.