29th May2020

‘White Fire’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Robert Ginty, Fred Williamson, Belinda Mayne, Jess Hahn, Mirella Banti, Diana Goodman, Gordon Mitchell | Written and Directed by Jean-Marie Pallardy

White Fire, also known as Vivre Pour Survivre (the on-screen title of this new Arrow Video Blu-ray release) is a 1984 action film made in Turkey, by a French man, and features two superstars of exploitation cinema: Fred Williamson (Hammer, Black Cobra) and Robert Ginty (The Exterminator). If that’s not a recipe for success I don’t know what is!

White Fire tells the story of brother and sister Bo (Ginty) and Inga (Belinda Mayne), two orphans turned jewel thieves who target the legendary ‘White Fire’ diamond — a priceless rock so hot it actually burns those who try to lay their hands on it! When tragedy strikes, Bo undertakes an outrageous plan involving plastic surgery and explosives to infiltrate the mine where the diamond awaits. Bo’s plan hits an unexpected snag with the arrival of smooth-talking badass Noah Barclay (Williamson), who’s hunting for a missing prostitute — and he thinks Bo and Inga hold the key to her disappearance!

As I said in the intro, White Fire has all the ingredients of a stone-cold exploitation movie classic.

It features a soundtrack that screams the 80s (I guarantee you won’t get THAT theme song out of your head any time soon after watching this film); with fight sequences that sound like they’ve stepped out of a Bruce Li movie (yes, Li NOT Lee) – over the top foley and all – and plenty of gore too, including a brutal bandsaw “incident”. White Fire honestly doesn’t scrimp on any of the typical action movie tropes. Instead it delivers them in spades. There’s plenty of nudity too, in particular from lead actress Belinda Mayne, and even the odd slice of softcore porn movie-like tracks in the score, which should tell you that filmmaker Jean-Marie Pallardy, despite making an action film, hasn’t really left the eroticism of his earlier career behind. So expect some rather “interesting” interactions between Bo and Ingrid… Which makes for an odd experience – White Fire honestly feels part softcore Emmanuelle movie, part bombastic action flick!

I, honestly, don’t think I’ve ever watched an action movie so over the top in years. I missed out on White Fire the first time round when it seems to have made an huge impact on fans via VHS – so seeing it with fresh eyes, as a fan of gloriously OTT action movies and 80s cinema in general, I was somewhat worried how I’d receive the film today. I needn’t have worried, watching White Fire feels like reuniting with an old friend – totally comforting and totally familiar. It features everything, and I do mean everything, I love about the genre and turns it up to 11. Making White Fire one hell of an insane ride, in the best way possible of course!

That’s the best way to describe White Fire. Totally insane. In the way only 80s movies seem to, and can, be. And I absolutely LOVED every minute of it!

This new Blu-ray of White Fire from Arrow Video has a feature-length audio commentary from critic Kat Ellinger but the real treat lies in the new interviews filmed for this release, which features not one but THREE interviews. First up is director Jean-Marie Pallardy, who discusses his career in erotic films, his relationship with Brigitte Lahaie, his move into mainstream cinema with White Fire and the politics of international filmmaking. He also discusses how his film was improved by not only the likes of Fred Williamson making suggestions about fights and stunts but also by his editor Bruno Zincone… Who is the second interviewee on this release, explaining how he came to be in the film business, his long-term working relationship with Jean-Marie Pallerdy and his move into the directors chair, partly in thanks to his time on sets with Pallerdy. However the cream of the crop is the interview with Fred Williamson, who’s a brilliant orator and listening to him talk about his experience on the film – including shooting some of the films fights/stunts – is a joy, even if he’s a little tough on the movie, and it’s wonderful to hear Williamson give White Fire the “so bad it’s good” thumbs up!

A fantastic edition of a fantastically insane action flick, White Fire is out on Blu-ray now from Arrow Video.

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