Lovely But Deadly (1981)

Sometimes you just need kung fu girls fighting a drug ring in their school.

That’s what what we have this week – Lovely But Deadly.  The film was made by David Sheldon, and he’s had a pretty good, long career as mostly a producer or executive.  This is only one of three movies he directed (one of which he was not credited for), but he does have some pretty good writing and producing credits worth mentioning.  To start, he wrote the movie Grizzly, and its long-to-finish-sequel Grizzly II: Revenge.  He’s been involved with the films Abby, Devil Times Five, Sheba, Baby, The Evil, The Manitou, Dr. Phibes Rises Again, and a whole slew of blaxploitation flicks.  Dude got around, but mostly got around the behind the scenes side of things as he doesn’t actually have a lot of actual on-screen credits.

Sure, many of his movies deal with animals having enough of our shit as human beings.  This time around though, he decides to take it back to school with a tale of a cheerleader, nicknamed “Lovely”, who decides to go undercover to expose a drug ring after her brother overdoses and a bunch of kids get hooked on the junk.  Also, she knows kung fu.  I cannot emphasize that enough.

Lucinda Dooling is our heroine in this movie.  Dooling didn’t have a very extensive career, but she did have two very large movies that she has credits for.  First, Steven Spielberg’s 1941 which, while it may have flopped, it’s still a Spielberg.  Second, she was in the fourth part of The Thorn Birds, one of the most watched miniseries in TV history.  Those credits are not insignificant.  Sadly, she passed away in 2015 at the age of 61.

Lovely But Deadly also features veteran character actors Mel Novak and John Randolph.  Randolph is probably best known for being Clark Griswold, Sr. in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  He was a in a ton of things dating all the way back to 1948.  Novak is still working today having been slated to appear in a ridiculous number of 2020 and 2021 films that are in various stages of production.  What’s funny is that most of the time, his characters don’t even have names, just descriptors like “the assassin” or “this guy’s henchman” or “some goon”.

Before we dive into this movie, I want to dissect this poster, because this is right up there with Chinese Hercules.  First, you have some ominous shit about “They”.

Aw shit.  That seems like a perfect way to start an action movie, right?  But what’s this?  Ellipses?  Uh oh…  That means that thought is not finished.

Bam!  But SHE had some MOVES over her own!  And if you need some help figuring out the double entendre of the underlined “moves”, here’s a little artist rendition of a girl and a guy having sexy fun naked time.

This is followed by our title in some nice late 70s/early 80s “lady font”.

Okay, okay, I’m in so far.  But who is “Lovely But Deadly”?

This babe.  I find this depiction of our main character, Lovely, incredibly enticing and sexy as all get out.  She’s got a little bit of flirty movement to her nicely cut hair.  Her expression isn’t uninviting, but serious.  She’s twisted around with her right fist ready to go to town if you don’t heed her left hand saying, “Stop right there, you oggler of poster art.  I’ll kick your motherfucking ass.”  Then, if you skip all the way down to then come all the way back up, you have those little karate shoes and long, bare legs…  That’s some nice shit there.  Then you’re met with short shorts.  I, for a long time, thought she was actually not wearing pants and that was the bottom of her gi.  I see now these are like her gym class shorts.  I actually think I find that sexier than the thought that she wasn’t wearing pants.  But then there’s that gi.  It’s probably silky.  It probably fits this woman in all the best ways.  But, it’s also got some sex appeal too with it revealing a little bit of side boob.  This is an image that ALWAYS draws my eyes in.

But we’re not done here with this fuckin’ poster or this part either.  There’s a police helicopter buzzing around her head.  It looks like there’s a cheerleader telling her to go, fight, and win.  A football dude looks pretty tired or possibly bummed out that Lovely here maybe won’t be able to go to prom because she’ll be too busy being deadly and fighting bad guys.  Then, as the cherry on top of this sundae – a Jeep full of other karate babes springing into action.  Masterpiece.

Let’s shift our eyes to the right, though because there’s more going on here.

This guy looks tough.  I also think he caused a couple boats to run into each other and fuckin’ explode!  He’s probably bad news.

Now we have Lovely kicking a guy in the goddamn face (while giving us a little look at her cheerleader pantaloons).  The force of that fuckin’ kick has the guy flailing backwards.  It’s so forceful and deadly, that bus is like, “Aw, hell naw, man.  I’m gettin’ out of here before she does that to me!”

And then there’s a guy singing a song about what he witnessed.  I presume it is called “Cheerleader Undies and Kicks to the Goddamn FACE!”

To finish things out, here’s your cast as well as a question that I think gets answered immediately.  Who Runs YOUR School?  Well, it’s Lovely But Deadly, sir.  Are you telling me you’d risk getting punched and kicked repeatedly by NOT saying she’s the one who runs this school?

Alright enough with the shenanigans.  Let’s get into the movie, yes?

Our movie opens with a girl looking for a boy named Arthur.  He’s having a bit of a freak out.  When he responds to her with some non-sequitur nonsense, she calls him pathetic and goes to her friends to say that he’s pretty badly strung out.  They just joke that he just loves the drugs like fish love the water and it will  wear off.  However, Arthur decides to go into the ocean to catch a tuna(? – no for real he says that’s what he’s gonna do) and he drowns.

One funny thing about this scene that kills me.  When Arthur disappears and this girl, Denise, is yelling for him, there’s just this couple on top of the rocks that seem to just making out or something, and the girl is topless.  Considering that this is a little bit of a kung fu exploitation flick with girls and pretty melodramatic, I kinda feel like they needed that R rating so they just had a topless chick on the beach for shits and giggles.

Also, the “Lovely But Deadly” theme song is fucking awesome?

So after that sweet ass theme song in which we saw this guy going around a nightclub snapping pictures of babes and stuff, we see the poor man’s Eddie Deezen, Marvin Katzoff’s “Cricket”, approach our photographer, Larry.  He says there’s a new girl who wants to meet him.  He convinces him to go over to meet this girl by first saying she’s “something else” and she’s looking for some “decent action and great ‘you know what’.”

That’s all it takes for Larry to approach our girl, Mary Ann Lovitt, but we can call her Lovely.

And, yes…  Yes, I agree she is rather lovely.  Larry takes her upstairs to his little bone zone palace.  He immediately tries scoring with her.  She backs him off wanting first to score some shit.  He shows her this stuff that he sells to schools.  Then she kicks his ass.  AND she feeds him his own dope, which fucks him up something good.  Lovely is NOT fucking around.

She returns to school the next day.  Her friend Barb tells her and another cheerleader friend of theirs that Larry has died.  It’s not what Lovely did to him, but what happened after.  The cops had to take him to the hospital.  There, he hung himself.  Upon doing so, the cops went back to his place and found insane amounts of drugs there.  Later, the cops want to question Lovely, but she gets saved a little bit by Steve, a guy who knew about Lovely’s little brother.

This is so after school theater type of stuff.  They talk about the “stupid drugs” situation and how much they hate it.  They make no bones about how the drug dealers have too much power and the people behind Larry are the ones that supplied him.  They also probably killed him after he got tipped off to the police.  This level of television style melodrama that then carries over into the next scene makes that titty flash earlier that much more peculiar.

Steve meets Lovely at her Aunt May’s house.  There, she’s chopping wood.  Like a bad ass.

We learn that Lovely is staying with her Aunt May for a while and I think Lovely might have also been bitten by a radioactive spider, but her new friend Steve is willing to help out her parents by driving them to the airport.  This is kind of a sad and over the top kind of scene too – similar to that whole “I hate the stupid drugs” thing earlier.  Lovely’s mom looks at Steve and just calls him Arthur because she’s so rocked with grief, she can’t see anyone but her dead kid.

To make things a little more convoluted, Steve is sweet on Lovely, but she’s already dating someone – Javelin Scott.  He’s speaking to Mr. Van Dyke, the superintendent of the school system.  He wants to know what’s going on with this problem with the DRUGS and Van Dyke says he thinks it’s all a farce that it isn’t any worse than alcohol and both are bad for you so whatya gonna do, amirite?

Now, here’s where things are weird for me.  First off, Arthur seemed like he was already solidly like a 16th grader at the beginning of the movie.  Lovely looks like she’s a full grown adult as well.  Arthur was her YOUNGER brother.  Javelin is in college and running a shipping firm left to him by his dead father, but he wants to be a musician where he plans to promote at Lovely’s school.  Following?

Okay, so is Lovely in high school still or is she in college and Arthur was a high schooler?  Were they both in high school?  The way Lovely talks about things with Javelin and Steve doesn’t seem like something kids talk about, but again, I can also see these are fully grown, adult actors.  Considering Lovely and Javelin fuck like pros in the hot tub in the very next scene, I have to assume they are in college, right?

All. Grown. Up.

Digging deeper, I now realize she is going BACK to high school to investigate what’s going on with the stupid drugs.  But how is she doing this?  Is she just showing up and saying, “Hi, my name is Lovely.  I’m smoking hot with a very grown up body.  I would like to enroll into the high school, please.  Thx!”

“Also, my boyfriend’s name is Javelin!”

Anyway, she is at the school again and helping a little wiener kid get a book.  As she reaches for it, he goes full Humpy McGee on her.  Are we sure drugs are the only problem here?

She asks Steve, the student body president no less, to do something about “that darn drug situation!”  A twitchy, squirrelly  guy who was once an honor student approaches Steve and asks for an answer on some proposition.  Turn the other direction about the drug situation and they give him some stuff or something?  Apparently one girl whores herself out for some drugs too.  They get attacked by guys in fencing outfits and she kicks their fucking asses back to the Three Musketeers days.  However, Steve gets roughed up pretty good.

The cops show up again and Detective Domley can’t help but notice Lovely is always around when trouble is.  She says she knows who the top dog is who is the main connection between the drug dealers and suppliers – a star football player named Mantis Managian.  Domley said he’s brought him in before but because he was such a hot shot football man, Mantis got cut loose and Domley got scolded.

It’s a good goddamn thing that Lovely has a whole school of sexy girl ninja kung fu broads!

There is no penis in this dojo!

Lovely continues to get a little lippy with people of authority.  Lovely’s kung fu teacher says she is not going to get Lovely introduced to the biggest pusher at school and she is part of the faculty (she teaches Karate 101, and an AP Kung Fu class) and she can’t really rock the boat.  Lovely’s like, “fuck off with that noise, ya cunt” and tosses her to the ground after saying that, you know, maybe if you would speak up from your position of relative power as the AP Kung Fu class teacher, that maybe her kid brother wouldn’t be teets up in the ocean.

Smash cut to titties.

The sexuality of this movie is very bizarre.  This is the second time that a shot of boobs are just dropped in.  There’s been NO bad language in this movie whatsoever.  So are these chesticles only here to get the R rating?  If so, why?  Why do you need that particular rating?  Is it because you have action violence and drug use/conversation so it can’t avoid it anyway so let’s throw some boobies in there?

Okay, so remember that teacher that said she didn’t want to introduce Lovely to Mantis?  Well, some of her students are involved with Mantis, drugs, fuckin’, and whatever other depraved shit.  One blonde chick, Gloria (played by Pamela Jean Bryant who was in Don’t Answer the Phone), says that Lovely can’t meet Mantis unless she gets in line, so the cheerleaders start trying to kick her ass.  When the the cheerleading coach/Kung fu professor breaks it up, Gloria says her authority is slipping so Coach kicks her lipstick out of her hand like a fuckin’ badass.

Lovely meets Mantis.  He invites her to a party at Mel Novak’s place.  Apparently, Novak wants to turn her into a prostitute, but Mantis wants to test out the “merchandise” first.  They talk about this RIGHT IN FRONT OF LOVELY.  Mantis takes Lovely to a room to, you know, make out with her.  But he calls an audible saying she’s gotta wait until he’s done with that skank bitch Gloria.

Drugs are bad M’kay?

At the party, Mr. Gilmarten arrives and he’s kind of a big deal as the owner of a discount store chain.  He’s played by Richard Herd.  He’s been in a ridiculous amount of movies, but passed away just this year.  Gloria pulls a prank on Lovely, but it gives her a chance to sneak around a little bit.  She also gets her back by having her sit in a plate of caviar.  Gloria and Lovely have a broad comedy fight, no pun intended, at this fancy party while Mel Novak freaks out about his possessions getting wrecked.

What is this movie?  Why did this comedic part happen?  Why did this turn into a prototypical 80s comedy about status in school for just a couple scenes?  Where is the kung fu action?  Why is Mel Novak saying “No!  Not the chopped liver!” when the girls are wrestling on the table?  There’s been a lot of Lovely, but where’s the Deadly?

So after that bullshit scene at Mel Novak’s party, we go to an apartment of Javelin performing his really smooth Barry Manilow/Love Boat style bullshit music.  This is THE MOST 1981 moment I’ve seen in a long time.

Maybe drugs aren’t that bad, M’kay?

So the next day, Gilmarten told Mantis to bring him Lovely.  He does so.  On the way over, Mantis says that Gilmarten is their primary supplier of the shit.  Now…  This is something that I’ve noticed and am beginning to find pretty damn funny.  In order to get your foot in the door to infiltrate a drug empire, all you have to do is say you are indeed interested in partying.

Not only do you get into parties, but you get to learn the entire organization chart of the drug guys.  You learn immediately who the top person is, who they give drugs to so they can sell, where those guys get pushers, and then exactly who their demographic is.  If we stick with the idea that the pushers are either high school or college kids, do you really trust they won’t completely and totally fuck up the whole operation?

Anyway, Richard Herd wants love from Lovely.  He starts kissing her, and she starts kung fuing him.  She’s about to learn where the big shipment coming in will be at when his bodyguards Driver and Gommorah come in.  Where were they at when the shit hit the fan with Lovely?

Thanks, Gommorah.  This introduces a situation that makes Gilmarten nervous.  The drugs Lovely was using to pump Gilmarten with makes him believe that Mantis is either trying to help Novak with a takeover or something.  He doesn’t like it.  So he sends Driver and Gomorrah to rough up the QB.  They stick him in a cardboard box and put him into a boiler room where they steam him to death.

But holy shit, yet another scene of Javelin makin’ it as a music guy.  He’s just hanging out in math class or something singing for the kids.

Javelin and the Kung Fu professor are a little concerned about Lovely not being seen since yesterday.  So Javelin, Steve, and Kung Fu prof is going to look for her while Javelin… does something…?  Driver and Gommorah have Lovely tied up in a warehouse.  She takes off on them and they chase her through the warehouse.  They catch up to her pretty quickly.

I guess Javelin’s big business he had to go and do was just going to the country club to hang out with Mr. Griswold.  Novak shows up and says that Lovely’s in danger.  There’s a bizarre exchange of looks between each other.  From the first moment, I was pretty sure the superintendent guy was totally a drug supplier, but I don’t know.  Novak leads Jav to the warehouse where they have Lovely stashed.  Steve, who was also asking around the grounds about Lovely, sees this and follows.

When Jav is brought inside, it’s revealed that he’s integral in this plot because he’s partnered with Gilmarten as the operation needs his shipping capabilities to bring fresh drugs into the country.  Lovely gets mad because you know, HE’S the one who got her brother killed. Not the other people who actually gave him the junk.  Not Arthur himself for chasing a high.  No!  It’s Javelin!

Gilmarten says they have to get rid of Lovely.  Steve and Kung Fu prof go to Domley.  They beg him to help even though he doesn’t seem to want to do, well, anything.  Back at the shipping yards, they plan to toss Lovely into a crate and send her off to Taiwan.  Gommorah, never having any opportunity at Mel Novak’s parties to get women, wants to have sex with Lovely before they package her up.  She punches and kicks her way out and runs off.  One guy has a machine gun, they could shoot her, but then someone has to yell that they can’t shoot her.

She gets on a boat to escape.  She then has to commandeer a second boat because her first ran out of gas.  Now, Novak is like, “Yeah, let’s shoot her.”  The most amazing thing happens.  In order for her to escape, she makes it so that the boat Novak is in and the boat Driver and Gommorah are in collide.  In the collision, these two MOSTLY WOODEN boats with tiny little motors FUCKIN’ EXPLODE!

To get some backup, Kung Fu prof brings an army of kung fu chicks to get rid of the dockworker goons.

This has completely devolved into chaos.  While the class take care of the dockworkers, Lovely chases Gilmarten.  She takes over a piece of equipment and lifts Gilmarten into the air and then into the water.  Now, I would think leaving him submerged would be a neat comeuppance.  Her brother died of the drug by drowning.  She could have done the same thing to Gilmarten

Later, Javelin meets up with Superintendent Griswold.  Yes, the Superintendent did get involved with the whole deal.  He’s a little upset to hear what Jav believed that Lovely was rubbed out.  While at the school, Jav’s become a minor celebrity and everyone wants to hear his song.  While he does that…Jeep full of kung fu babes.

The cops come to arrest Jav and the students corner the Superintendent… But, wait a minute.  How did they know anything about the Superintendent’s involvement?  Did Lovely know that?  She didn’t even know Jav was involved until she saw him at the docks and was told by Gilmarten that he was involved.  I wouldn’t think Steve or Kung Fu prof knew that.

Oh whatever.

This movie is schizophrenic as fuuuuuck.  Again, I’m not so sure this was intended on being a movie that was going to be R-rated at all.  It’s melodramatic more like a movie that is intended for “young people” to watch at school or one of those after school movies that used to be on TV.  There’s not a single curse word in the movie.  I’m not even sure anyone said hell or damn.  They certainly didn’t say some of my favorite four letter words.

I suspect that drug theme was what was going to give the movie a hard time not being PG, so they said, “Screw it!  Let’s get some titty flesh in here!”

Is this a good movie?  Nope!  There are some elements I do like.  I love the idea of a high school class of kung fu ladies.  That’s foxy as fuck.  Mostly, the best thing in this movie is Lucinda Dooling.  She’s playing this character of Lovely kind of broadly.  She says things that you’d expect Wonder Woman to have said on the TV show.  So this movie has a really weird dynamic, but Dooling does carry the movie well enough.  The big problem is that it just doesn’t deliver on any of its promises of that beautiful poster and potential premise.

But, that’s okay, because this blog is all about giving it the ol’ college try whenever I can.  I feel like I do have a bit of a winner for next week.  It’s time for Claudia Jennings to return to B-Movie Enema.  So come back form the untamed and deadly ‘Gator Bait!

4 thoughts on “Lovely But Deadly (1981)

  1. Is it just me or did Lovely’s gang of high school Kung Fu students remind anyone else of Dolemite’s all-ho Kung Fu army?
    PS: bonus props for the Cinema Snob gif.

    Like

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