All these years I was pretty sure that there’d never be another gangster movie that equaled “The Warriors” in terms of pure atmosphere and grit. And then I saw “Switchblade Sisters.” Sure, it’s not as good as “The Warriors,” but it makes a damn good argument of equaling it in quality. “Switchblade Sisters” is a hard film to dislike. I’m not going to claim it’s the perfect gangster movie, but watching a bunch of tough broads fighting off prison wardens is still as exciting as watching The Warriors battle The Lizzies. It’s past its time, sure, but it’s also aged pretty damn well. The gung-ho corniness, colorful characters, and unflinching bad-ass attitude are just so damn entertaining, and Hill is never apologetic about displaying this film as a fantasy, that’s also acceptably outlandish.
“Switchblade Sisters” is a typical gangster flick of the seventies, and yet it manages to stand out. We follow the Dagger Debs, and their incarceration in a juvenile ward. After coming across a tough bitch named Maggie in a restaurant, she’s framed and jailed with the Dagger Debs where she forms a bond with the leader, Lace. Maggie leaves early and now finds herself in the middle of a pure gang war brewing as the Dagger Debs sit behind the walls of their prison. One of the more memorable aspects of Hill’s film is the performance from Robbie Lee who is priceless as Lace. She’s a tough bitch with a penchant for beating everyone to a pulp, yet has this oddly appealing baby face that keeps viewers hating yet adoring her throughout.
After Maggie is released, she engages in an affair with Lace’s beau Dom, and upon Laces return, Patch, a one eye blonde beauty, in love with Lace, begins to tinker with the affairs of the gang intent on turning Lace on Maggie in an attempt to win her back. But the shit hits the fan, and war ensues. Monica Gayle as Patch is the corrupting force behind the inevitable battle of the Dagger Debs upon one another, as she manages to sabotage much of the relationships around her to retain the one she has with Lace. Gayle, who gives the best performance, is great as the puppeteer behind the scenes playing folks to her selfish whims, while much of the film is played with a chaotic tension that ensures these gangs will definitely turn on one another at any point, thanks to their own personal goals. The film is definitely cheesy, but I dug the way this land was portrayed as a war zone, while the two gangs ruled the school they frequented in the process.
The fight scenes, and hell, even the opening is just a beauty to watch, and Hill, who directed another of my favorites “Spider Baby,” composes the story without much of a fault. Hill’s direction is awfully good for what’s considered an exploitation film, staging damn entertaining battle sequences, and a wonderful roller rink battle. “Switchblade Sisters” is most definitely worth the audience mainly because in spite of the limited talents behind the cast, and the slim script, it works as a slick gang fantasy with many memorable moments and fights. Hell, I won’t pretend its filet mignon of the film world, but shit, I dug the hell out of “Switchblade Sisters.” In spite of the weak acting and cheese, the performances from Robbie Lee and Monica Gayle are the utter highlights, and Hill’s direction is ace. It’s a definite competitor for “The Warriors,” that’s for damn sure. The Warriors vs. the Jezebels? It could happen.