Jungle Virgin Force (Indonesia 1988)

Rating: **
Alternate Title: Perawan Rimba
Review Date: 8/2/20
Cast: Lydia Kandou

A mysterious jungle girl named Jelita (Lydia Kandou) shows up to rescue some other jungle girls from a crocodile while they're bathing. She wears a strange necklace, which convinces the jungle queen to promote her to being the protector of the tribe. However, the jungle witch doctor disagrees and all of the men decide to overthrow the queen in a massive bloodbath. Meanwhile, back in civilization, a group of college students pester a professor into telling them the location of a secret island and the fabled treasure that's hidden on it. After telling his anxious and naïve students at least a dozen times that they'll be killed if they go there, he finally decides to give them a map of the island. But a group of vicious treasure hunters led by a bitchy girl named Doris decide to steal the map, which leaves the poor professor dead and the students on the run. Both groups make it to the island, where they're attacked by the male natives who are now cannibals. Jelita and her pet monkey eventually come to their rescue, although jealousy, greed, and infighting tear both groups apart. There's also some side drama about an old man who lost his daughter on the island ten years ago. Any guesses who that might be? Ultimately, Jelita leads the women of the island to attack the men with the intent of killing the evil witch doctor. But wait! The queen isn't dead after all, and shows up just in time to battle the witch doctor in a flurry of special effects. The film ends on a vague note with lots of loose ends. Will Hydar take Jelita back to civilization and find love in each other's arms? And what happened to Hydar's girlfriend, Maya, and the rest of the students?

Make no mistake; this is a terrible film, but the girls are pretty and the scenery is stunning. Lush jungles, forests, waterfalls, rivers, and caves give the film an adventurous and exotic feel, and the cinematography is pretty good for the most part. The story is weak, the humor is awful, and the dialog is laughably bad, but the young and attractive actors handle it all in stride. The action is plentiful, although the fight scenes are poorly realized. However, they're still better than what Hollywood had to offer in the 80's. There's also a fun car chase at the beginning that goes way over the top. Naturally, in the jungle there are the requisite animal threats, which mostly boil down to stock footage of tigers and crocodiles just doing their thing, and people pretending to be attacked by snakes. Snakes are prevalent in the natives' magic as well, and one of the more shocking scenes has a sorceress lopping off a snake's head and spraying its blood on the women warriors before they go into battle. There are some other pretty gonzo scenes including a weird voodoo doll that leaps out of a pool of blood, a guy who literally coughs up his own skull, magic beams that rip peoples' hearts out of their chests, a woman who is slowly dissolved by magic fire, flying stalactites that impale people, and a decapitation that comes out of nowhere. You almost get the feeling that the director needed to write that character out of the story on the spur of the moment due to an injury, illness, or other trouble on the set.

While the film has all the elements of an epic supernatural jungle adventure, it completely falls apart in the editing and continuity. The film is assembled in such an amateurish and haphazard way that it's nearly impossible to follow. There's no rhythm or logical flow between scenes, which gives the disjointed narrative a confusing and disappointing "make it up as you go" feeling. The film also feels incomplete, as if the director didn't get all of the footage that he needed, and that the final product was just assembled from whatever scraps were lying around. Some of the shots in the film literally don't relate to anything, with the most hilarious one being a scene of a character who we've never met falling to his death in a pit of spikes. Huh? Where the hell did THAT come from?!? The visual effects are also amusingly bad, although they're used sparingly. While I enjoyed watching the film, I can't really recommend it. The exploitation elements might have been shocking and taboo at the time, but they seem pretty mild by modern standards. And it's not quite in the "so bad that it's good" category, either. So, unless you have a curiosity about 1980's Indonesian adventure cinema, there's little reason to track this one down.