1991 - 91m.
They say that love you will find you when you least expect it and I certainly was not expecting to begin a relationship with this unassuming flick when it went into my VCR. Although it is all brawn on the outside ("more kick than Kickboxer, more blood than Bloodsport"), the reality is that this is a tender romance that most people will look down on. In fact, a lot of people will probably think I have been huffing gas as I write this review but I assure you that I have not. This movie has stuck with me for the last few months for some bizarre reason and I can't decide if I am enamoured by David Heavener's intense overacting, Charlene Tilton's relentless cuteness, or the Heavener-penned country songs that are catchier to me than Katy Perry singing "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls. I have just finished watching this movie a second time and I am even more drawn to it than before. I am actually surprised that more b-movie aficionados don't talk about this because this is bad movie gold.
Heavener stars as Cage, a kickboxer who goes into retirement after he loses a big fight due to an ill-timed Vietnam flashback. He is committed to a psychiatric hospital and nursed back to health by Dr. May (Samantha Eggar) with support from his agoraphobic psych-ward buddy named Legs (Sam Bottoms). Cage gets back into the real world, lands a job as a dishwater in a bar, and is taken in by his country-singer friend Ali (Tilton). After picking up a guitar, Cage discovers that he has a talent for writing songs (when he is not being a moody little baby) and begins to write incredibly cheesy love songs about Ali. The two begin playing music together and fall in love while Cage has the occasional awkward flashback to the war. Conflict enters the picture when Cage's old fight promoter decides to set up a battle to the death between Cage and a rabid kickboxer named Dr. Death and threatens Cage to participate or else.
The false advertising on the VHS box for this flick is one of the most misleading cases I have seen in cover art. It really leads one to believe that there is a violent kickboxing movie within but this is not the case... at all. There are a few brief fight scenes but the core of the story is Cage trying to overcome his demons and find his place in the world through music. I totally get that the marketing department at the company was trying to portray Heavener as an action star (this was released hot on the heels of Twisted Justice co-starring Shannon Tweed) but I can't imagine very many people having the reaction to this movie that I did. Most would have turned this off in disgust and written Heavener off as a whiny little sappy drama queen. He spent the rest of his career in thrillers and although I have not seen all of Heavener's filmography, I would imagine that this is the one closest to his heart. It is just too sincere to not be and although he did not direct it, this is clearly a Heavener flick as he is in almost every scene and he wrote most of the music. It's weird that many b-list actors named David have secret careers as songwriters: Heavener, Hess, Cassidy, and, of course, The Hoff.
Although the action is sorely missing from Ragin' Cajun, there is still plenty to enjoy if you can appreciate this sort of thing. This piece of Southern cheese is best served up with some friends and some beverages. You could start a drinking game where you shotgun a beer every time Cage has a 'Nam flashback or take a shot whenever you wonder if Cage and Legs are "more than friends" (especially after you watch the seductive way that Cage picks up and eats an apple in an early scene). There is also the scene where Ali first discovers Cage's songwriting ability when she finds him playing guitar on a bench and he somehow is able to conjure up a full orchestral score out of the hole in the wood. You will wonder how during a lengthy foot chase, the chubby henchman is able to keep up and how Samantha Eggar (The Brood) ended up in the small role as Cage's shrink. You will be astounded by the love montage set to the tune of "I Slipped on My Best Friend and Fell in Love". I could go on and on but this is really one that has to be seen to be appreciated. Look for Stella Parton (Dolly's sister) and Billy Vera (80s hit "At This Moment") as performers in the nightclub. (Josh Pasnak, 11/26/16)
Directed By: William Byron Hillman.
Written By: William Byron Hillman.
Starring: David Heavener, Charlene Tilton, Allan Rich, Sam Bottoms.