Female Fight Squad (2017)

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Amy Johnston goes on a road to redemption in this indie fight film from director Miguel A. Ferrer.

Rebecca “Bex” Holt was once an underground fight champion who has decided to leave that world behind her. Her father Sam has been imprisoned as he was framed for a murder he may or may not have committed. Now working in an animal shelter, Rebecca is forced to use her skills when she confronts two men who plan to find a dog for their illegal dog fighting ring. The fight has gone viral, prompting Rebecca to get a visit from someone she never expected.

Kate, Rebecca’s younger sister, is in debt for $150,000 to a notorious fight ring promoter named Landon Jones. Sam, calling from prison, urges Rebecca to help Kate. Rebecca returns to her family gym, where he is greeted by family friend Zeke and ex-boyfriend Kyle, who has become a police officer. Rebecca trains Kate’s team for an upcoming tournament against Landon’s champion Claire “The Bull”. However, when Rebecca learns the reason for the debt as well as learning that after the tournament, Kate is brutally beaten, Rebecca must return to a world she never imagined going back to but now has ulterior motives.

It seems like martial artist turned stuntman and actor Amy Johnston needs to find a project that will allow her to really showcase her stuff. While one can consider Lady Bloodfight as a stepping stone, despite its lackluster fights, it has a good storyline. The same can be said for her second lead role in a film, this indie fight film that relies less on MMA-style fighting but resorts more to an Americanized-version of perhaps that very film.

It’s not that the film is completely bad. Once again, the film does have a good story. However, in the martial arts film genre, a filmmaker must mesh a good story with some fight scenes worth seeing. And Johnston is truly the best fighter in the film, even if she has to lose against an apparently more superior fighter, and the word “apparently” is really stressed.

More on the action later, but as mentioned, the script, co-written by director Miguel A. Ferrer and Anastajza Davis, brings a sense of redemption for Johnston’s Rebecca, aka Bex, a legend in underground fighting who had left the world in order to tend to animals in need. She finds herself immersed back in the world of fighting when she becomes the trainer for a group of fellow fighters including younger sister Kate, played by Cortney Palm. The reasoning behind the debt is one that will make you feel sympathy for Kate as it involves her young daughter Lily.

Rey Goyos seems to ham it up as notorious fight ring promoter Landon Jones, who not only likes to build bird houses in his free time, but tends to use some bird analogies at times as well. Never Back Down’s Sean Faris makes the most of his role as Kyle, the police officer who was once a romantic interested to Bex and somewhat rekindles it. It would have been cool considering his past films, to have seen him throw down, but sadly, it never happens. Dolph Lundgren makes the most of his time as Sam, Bex and Kate’s father, who even gets his own fight scene in prison with Chuck Zito being the “father figure” to replace Sam and provides a bit of comic relief.

The fight scenes are quite lackluster for the most part, due to the all too familiar problem with close-ups and cutting. However, as mentioned, Johnston can sell a fight and does so in two throwdowns against Michelle Jubilee Gonzalez, as Landon’s champion Claire The Bull. However, when Johnston does finally let loose, she proves to be a vital fighter. In other words, it is clear that Amy Johnston has the tools to become the next big female fight film star. Here’s hoping Amy will get to finally show what she can really do in the upcoming Accident Man with the likes of Scott Adkins.

Female Fight Squad suffers from the same issue as Lady Bloodfight: good storyline but less than impressive fights. However, it is safe to say these two are just mere stepping stones as Amy Johnston truly can prove she can fight and sell a fight as well. Let’s hope Accident Man will let her unleash her true skills on screen.

WFG RATING: C

Cineville presents a FFC Productions/Tadross Media Group production in association with Parkside Pictures. Director: Miguel A. Ferrer. Producers: Michael Tadross Jr., Sonja Mereu, Frederic Demey, and Carl Colpaert. Writers: Miguel A. Ferrer and Anastazja Davis. Cinematography: Kristoffer Carillo. Editing: Yvan Gauthier.

Cast: Amy Johnston, Cortney Palm, Rey Goyos, Dolph Lundgren, Sean Faris, Chuck Zito, Michelle Jubilee Gonzalez, Shaun Brown, Levy Tran, Folake Olowofoyeku, Jeanette Samano, Briana Marin, Lexy Kolker, Boni Yanagisawa.

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