Color, 1979, 98m.
Directed by Bobby Suarez
Starring Marrie Lee, Chito Guerrero, Florence Carvajal, Johnny Wilson, Dick Adair, Cynthia Rodrigo, Danny Rojo
Code Red (US R0 NTSC) / (1.78:1) (16:9)

Devils ThreeNo other run in movie history is even remotely similar to the heyday of Bobby Suarez, a Filipino filmmaker who wrote, directed, and/or produced a string of utterly bizarre action films featuring a colorful array of misfits and glamour girls, not all of whom were necessarily female. Case in point: Devils Three, a batty offering in line with other misfit action mDevils Threeovies like The Crippled Masters and Little Cigars. However, the gimmick here is definitely unique: a flamboyant transvestite and an obese psychic!

These two unorthodox heroes are enlisted to help Cleopatra Wong (Lee), the beautiful Interpol agent previously seen in her debut film, They Call Her Cleopatra Wong. Cleopatra's old foe, gangland boss Lucifer Devlin (Filipino exploitation vet Wilson), has had his daughter snatched by his treacherous underlings led by the wicked Manny (Adair). Cleopatra calls up Terry Del Rio (Guerrero), a cross-dressing former cop and expert martial artist, and then brings in the aptly named Rotunda (Carvajal), who's able to lift ridiculously heavy objects when she isn't stuffing her face. All are present to hear the kidnapper's demands via phone, which sets them on a wild ride to track down the missing girl and beat up as many people as possible to complete their mission.

Good God, this movie really is insane. Drive-in distributors tried their best to get mainstream crowds to see this under a multitude of titles like Mean Business, Devil's Angels, and Pay or Die, including a brief VHS release as part of Sybil Devils ThreeDanning's Adventure Video line, but this is so far out there it would take years of cult movie awareness and a massive fan base for stars like Weng Weng to give this any kind of understandable context. Lee is a real pleasure to watch as always; perky, pretty, and shockingly gung ho about performing her own stunts (even swinging straight through a giant glDevils Threeass window), she could have easily gone on to a longer action career had she chosen to stick around beyond this and the other Cleopatra Wong adventure, Dynamite Johnson. Guerrero's performance will probably annoy some p.c. audiences today, but it's actually still pretty transgressive to see an openly gay character beating the crap out of bigger, stronger criminals. Then there's Carvajal, who's so exaggerated you'd have to be a real spoilsport to be offended. It's stupid, ridiculous, and probably not a very good film at all, but if you're in the right frame of mind, it's also very, very entertaining. And there's a funky disco theme, too.

While we still don't have a decent DVD version of Cleopatra Wong (the Dark Sky DVD is horrendously cropped), it's nice to finally see one of her adventures looking so good on DVD. You'll see a little minor damage here and there, but the print is in excellent condition overall with those great super-saturated '70s colors popping out of the screen. Hopefully this means we'll get more Suarez films out on DVD; apart from The One-Armed Executioner (which is paired up on that same Dark Sky disc and looks great), it's impossible to find commercially available editions of his other titles like American Commandos, the two Bionic Kid movies, or Warriors of the Apocalypse. As with other recent Code Red titles, this one is sold directly through their site (click on the link above) and comes with the outrageous theatrical trailer (which is becoming a staple of cult trailer comps) as well as other "pointless" Code Red trailers (If He Hollers Let Him Go, My Old Man's Place, Changes, Devil's Express, and Terminal Island). You really won't believe your eyes.

Reviewed on October 22, 2012.