After the disappointment of TERMINATOR SALVATION the last thing we need is another movie that fails to live up to James Cameron’s original creation. But here is TERMINATOR WOMAN, which not only lacks the punch of Cameron’s two sci-fi action classics, but also fails to communicate to the viewer (in this case me) why the hell it’s called TERMINATOR WOMAN. The cover says “It’s about time!” as if to suggest it’s exciting to have a woman Terminator (before TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES), but the movie isn’t even remotely about robots or even terminating, and there’s also a man in the movie who fights on what is portrayed as an approximately equal skill level with the woman. So if she counts as a Terminator then he must too. I’m not sure why it’s not TERMINATOR MAN AND WOMAN.
TERMINATOR WOMAN is about two American karate cops in Africa fighting some crime lord who wants to get back some gold that was stolen from him. But the crime lord is not Warwick Davis, it’s Michel Qissi, also director, co-writer, fight choreographer and fight editor.
If you don’t know Qissi you at least know his friend: he grew up with and trained with Jean-Claude Van Damme. Onscreen he most memorably played Tong Po, the villain in KICKBOXER, although he was uncredited (it said Tong Po played himself). But here is his first try at directing (he did one other, 2001’s EXTREME FORCE).
The two cops are played by Jerry Trimble (blond, square-jawed quarterback looking kickboxer-turned-actor) and Karen Sheperd (Jeff Wincott’s little asskicker of a partner in MISSION OF JUSTICE). Sheperd gets kidnapped by Qissi’s men early in the movie, but quickly escapes and spends most of the running time travelling back to where the plot is located. Trimble spends his time trying to get her released while Qissi keeps threatening to kill her. I was never sure if either of them knew she escaped a long time ago.
So the plot doesn’t make much sense, and by halfway through the movie I couldn’t remember why they even came to Africa in the first place. And the whole feel is cheesy and low rent. But it has tons of martial arts and lots of goofy touches that made me laugh:
- The henchman who runs down a road toward Sheperd, swinging his nunchakas, but after he gets there he gets spooked and runs away, ditching his nunchakas in the bushes
- The innocent bystander who sees a guy crash his motorcycle, fly through the air, roll across the ground and lightly bump his car. Instead of checking that the guy is okay (or even alive) the guy gestures angrily at him and grunts.
- The prisoner stupidly giving away the location of the gold to a seductress and the police giving him words of support so he won’t feel too bad about himself
- Sheperd wearing a ridiculous, cleavage-y half shirt with little metal trinkets hanging all over it, doing tai chi by a campfire
- The henchwoman dressed in that same outfit, fighting Trimble. She confuses him for about half a second, then gets beat in maybe 10 or 15. I don’t know how she got that outfit – must’ve been alot of trouble for such a dumb plan.
Sheperd is in the Blackbelt Hall of Fame and was the first woman to win the title of Grand Champion at the U.S. Open Karate Championship, so she kicks ass (and balls) throughout the movie. She’s got short arms and legs, not alot of reach, but gets a guy close enough to do damage by asking for a leg massage. I’m not saying she’s ugly, but she’s not exactly the standard Hollywood beauty, so it’s kind of funny and charming how confident she is in her sexuality. And more than one guy in the movie lusts after her (Trimble being one of them).
Is she the Terminator Woman? Or is it her dress-alike? Or is it the aristocratic attempted-seductress villainess who steals the gold? I don’t know. I guess it must be Sheperd. She probaly terminates more people than the other two. But I don’t know.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.