Socks, Toys, Ribbons and Paper. That's the name of a rather unique retail outlet that I saw on a family vacation years ago. It came to my mind when I read the promotional copy on the back of my review disc of Minty the Assassin. "Lesbians, Martial Arts, High Heels and Science", it proudly declares in big letters. A winning combination if ever there was one. Unfortunately, Minty the Assassin doesn't win as much as it intends to, but if the only thing one is interested in a movie are scantily clad women and kung fu, then this is probably the best thing one will see all year.
The plot... Aw, who am I kidding? The plot is so slight as to be almost non-existent. Minty (Elina Madison) is a lesbian assassin with a penchant for chocolate. She develops a strong sexual attraction to Double Delicious (Tabitha Taylor), a bikini clad vampire, after Double helps her out with a little zombie killing. Unfortunately, the zombie assist is all part of a devious scheme, hatched by Double's boss Dr. Brain Bender (Chip Joslin), who kidnaps Minty's mentor Big Boss (Anthony Ray Parker, best known as Dozer in The Matrix) and holds him hostage in the Cock Tower. No, that's not a misprint, the Cock Tower.
Minty has to fight her way through a series of comic book type villains to reach Big Boss, Game of Death style, which film is explicitly referenced by a character. (The Bruce Lee film, not the Wesley Snipes film of the same name.) If she doesn't reach him in time, a bomb will go off and kill him. So, Minty judo chops her way through such folks as Superman wannabe Captain Capability, the stereotypically homosexual Sensational Ninja, Bruce Zee, Zen Cowboy (who looks enough like Alejandro Jodorowsky in El Topo to be a nod of the head as well) and some sort of mutated rat man. During each encounter, Minty barely prevails after much kung fu violence, and coincidentally loses a piece of clothing, until she is clad only in boots and a leather bikini before her final confrontation with Brain Bender and Double Delicious.
Minty the Assassin is an exceptionally stupid film. However, the producers are clearly not aiming for intelligent fare, but rather the lowest common denominator type of comic book movie. The performances, costumes, production design and effects all cater to that end, and often work well in context, excepting the laughably bad CG and occasional bouts of crude Flash animation. (And not just crude in execution, but also some almost X rated bits toward the end.) The fight scenes are actually quite well executed, by people who clearly have training in martial arts. The encounters with Sensational Ninja and Bruce Zee show this off the best, though it is evident in other places as well. This is in stark contrast to many low budget action films, in which the actors have no skill or training, and cousin Bill who once almost went to the police academy is in charge of fight choreography.
Fun action segments and bared flesh are about all that Minty the Assassin has going for it. It is intended to be over the top and ridiculous, so if you are looking for even the merest hint of subtlety, look elsewhere. The periodic monologues on supposedly deep philosophical and intellectual subjects (evidently the "Science" of the ad copy) are just the sort of juvenile musings that one might expect from a callow college freshman, and are jarringly out of place here. Who wants to hear about the meaningless drudgery and crushing ennui of life? Bring on the bare breasts!
And that brings us on to the next criticism. It seems that the producers wanted most of all to make a porn film, but couldn't quite work up the moxie to go through with it. The provocatively dressed pair of Minty and Double Delicious provides barely modest eye candy throughout the film, but at the climax (pun very much intended) end up topless and groping all over each other. (Minty has pasties on throughout, but Double Delicious is bare breasted except in what appear to be some sort of fantasy dream sequence bits, where she has pasties as well.) The mechanics of coitus with panties still on is left unexplored in the live action sequences, but the animated portions intercut into the scene present the two as fully nude and engaging in explicit sex acts. That this is done in laughably crude Flash just adds to the childishness of the affair. So why didn't they just make a soft core porn film? They're released all the time, and it would have had the advantage of the pandering being straightforward and honest. Perhaps writer / director Eugene Baldovino was aiming at something that escapes me. Regardless, if this kind of thing interests you, rent it. Otherwise, avoid.
The video is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen, and looks good for the most part. There is some occasional posterization and times when the shadows overwhelm the action, but mostly the image is clear and bright, with vibrant colors.
The audio is Dolby digital 2 channel, and mostly sounds good, with clearly audible dialogue. However, in the scene with the rat man, his facial prosthetic muffles his words somewhat, making them difficult to decipher. No subtitles are included to help with this, and no alternate language track is included.
The extras here are few and slight: a trailer, a short gallery of promotional stills for the film, and a gallery of posters for other Cinema Epoch releases.
Minty the Assassin is not an intelligent or subtle film, and it's not trying to be. It aims squarely for the puerile and juvenile, and mostly hits the mark, but also seems conflicted between a desire for more explicit sexuality and its own rather constricting high school mentality. It wants to be both smarter and sexier than it is, but doesn't really commit to either, and so comes off a bit lukewarm. If your expectations are very low, and you know what the film is, you'll enjoy it. Most folks won't.