Director Cirio H. Santiago will probably never get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame but I still dig the man’s work. In his lifetime, Santiago directed some of the best low budget shot-in-the-Philippines action movies ever made. Santiago’s The Muthers isn’t quite as good as his Angelfist or She-Devils in Chains, but it serves as an OK reminder of what he was capable of.
Jeannie Bell (who also starred in Santiago’s immortal TNT Jackson) stars as a sexy pirate who learns that her sister has been captured and taken to a remote island prison. She gets herself arrested and goes to the prison to look for her. After the lecherous warden murders her little sister; Bell escapes into the jungle along with some foxy companions. In the end, Jeannie and her friends get into a machine gun battle with not only the guards, but a rival gang of pirates as well.
The Muthers is a mixture of several reliable exploitation genres (women in prison, blaxploitation, Kung Fu, etc.) yet it never really gels. Most of the action is weighted towards the end of the film and while the shootouts, karate chops, and explosions are plentiful, they really lack the panache of Santiago’s best work. The film also suffers from some awfully muddy cinematography which hampers a lot of the night time scenes.
Bell’s fun performance is what makes the film watchable. (I especially enjoyed her topless shower scene.) She has a genuine charisma about her that I enjoy and she handles herself well during the fight scenes (although her gymnast double is poorly edited in on several occasions).
It’s Bell’s best friend who gets the funniest line of the film when she gets bitten on the breast by a poisonous snake: “Just like every other snake I’ve ever met… can’t leave my tits alone!”