Female Fight Squad (2016)- * * *
Directed by: Miguel Angel Ferrer
Starring: Amy Johnston, Dolph Lundgren, Sean Faris, Levy Tran, Courtney Palm, Rey Goyos, Folake Olowofoyeku, Jeanette Samano, and Chuck Zito
Rebecca "Bex" Holt (Johnston) just wants to leave her former life as an underground Punchfighter behind. She now works at Waggin' Tails animal pound and dreams of moving to another animal sanctuary in Africa. However, when she's approached by her wayward sister Kate (Palm), and she tells Bex that she owes evil Punchfighting promoter Landon Jones (Goyos) $125,000, Bex is forced into a tough spot. Moving from L.A. to Vegas to help Kate, she ends up training not just her, but her fellow female fighters Winter (Olowofoyeku), Lisa AKA Spring Roll (Tran), and Gaby (Samano). Meanwhile, Bex reconnects with figures from her former life, such as old flame Potter (Faris) and trainer Zeke (Zito). But on top of everything else, she must iron out the issues with her wrongfully-imprisoned father (Dolph). Can Bex train and punch her way out of all her personal issues and demons? Or will another approach be required? Find out today...
In the pantheon of like-minded films such as Fight Valley (2016) and Chokehold (2019), Female Fight Squad is perhaps best of the three. It's even on par with fellow Johnston outing Lady Bloodfight (2016). It's certainly a heck of a lot better than Brawler (2011). If you like any or all of the above titles, you'll most likely warm to FFS. The look of the film is professional-low budget, so it's no strain on the eyes. Johnston is well-cast for a number of reasons: her fighting moves are top notch, her acting is improving, and she legitimately looks like she could be Dolph's daughter.
There are some classic and much-loved cliches on display here: not only does Bex not want to fight but eventually does, so do the FFS not want to listen to her sage and masterly advice. They initially mock and ridicule her for some reason, but, of course, they come around to her way of thinking. It's all very reminiscent of Cynthia Rothrock in American Tigers (1996). The Punchfighting goes on in the back of an import/export warehouse, and the FFS are all a ragtag, multi-ethnic Benetton rainbow. Bex's boyfriend is played by noted Himbo Sean Faris. His status as a Himbo, first noticed in The King of Fighters (2010), remains unchanged here.
But going back to actors who have markedly improved, we have one of Chuck Zito's best roles we've seen to date. He practically steals the movie, just like he did with Redline (1995). But for slightly different reasons. Now, on to the Dolphiness of this outing. He's not in it all that much, but, to be fair, he's not the main character. Perhaps they shot this around the time of Riot (2015), because he was stuck in jail in that one too. He gets a nice fight scene and a handful of decent moments. To be even more fair to the Dolphster, even the gals of the FFS aren't in the movie as much as you'd think - and it's called Female Fight Squad! The focus, naturally enough, is on the Bex character and her struggles.
It all comes to a head as Bex has to fight her way to Landon Jones, and then there's the inevitable final showdown with him. It's here that the movie really shines and there should have been more of that sort of thing. That being said, it's all done in a slicker way than you might expect and the drama is not bad, if it is a bit standard. It would have been a cool addition if Jones had an evil underling (or two or three) that Bex had to fight her way through in order to get to the big boss. But, still and all, Female Fight Squad is solid and entertaining.
In the end, fans of Punchfighting, Dolph, and Amy Johnston will get the most out of this, and they - and others with adjacent interests - are encouraged to check it out.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty