Trish Stratus poses with ActionFest director Colin Geddes and Tom Quinn, SVP Magnolia Pictures Photo: Micah Mackenzie
Coming off a recent return to WWE and the debut of her new show WWE Tough Enough to record numbers, Trish Stratus is on a roll. After completing a whirlwind media tour in NYC, Trish flew straight off the Today Show set to Asheville, North Carolina to attend ActionFest Film Festival. Making its world premiere at “The Carolina” cinemas last weekend, Trish stars in her feature film debut – Bail Enforcers.
Joined by family and friends from Toronto, Trish arrived to the theatre and was met by a bevy of fans who burst into cheers when she was joined by WWE Superstar and Asheville resident, Edge, who recently announced his pretirement. Also out for the action was long-time friend, TNA Knockout Tara (Lisa Marie Varon formerly known as WWE Diva Victoria), who flew in to support Trish. “I loved being part of her big night. We are part of a sisterhood, and I think it’s important to show our support for each other as we move on to other projects. I’m so proud of Trish!” The trio posed for pictures alongside the film’s director Patrick McBrearty, co-star Frank Zupancic, and on-screen nemesis, Andrea James Lui.
After a quick media blitz, Stratus was escorted into the almost sold out theatre. The audience, comprised of both wrestling fans and action film fanatics, gave her a big warm welcome. ActionFest director Colin Geddes invited the seven time WWE Women’s Champion to the podium to say a few words and interact with fans before the film began. In a fun moment, one fan asked if Trish could get him a spot on her new hit show, WWE Tough Enough, currently airing on USA Network. She persuaded him to join her up front and asked him to cut a wrestling style promo on her in front of the audience. Trish did a great job of making those in attendance feel as though we were sharing a special, intimate moment with her by being a part of her big day.
The film bursts into action almost immediately, a smart move as you are instantly hooked after watching Stratus do what she does best – kicking ass and taking names. But also the on-screen chemistry between her and co-star Boomer Phillips, a stand up comedian from Toronto, also keeps you wanting more. Every time the pair is on-screen together, it’s magic. The best parts of the script are delivered by Phillips, which we learned after the film were actually not even part of the script. Although a tad crude at times, Boomer’s character Chase brings the one-liners while Trish aka sexy Jules Taylor brings the action – this combination really gets you excited about watching this bounty hunter trio, lead by their no-nonsense boss Ridley, played by yet another Torontonian Frank Zupancic.
As much as I enjoyed the trio from Toronto, what you are going to write home about – or rather Twitter, Facebook or YouTube about, are the fight scenes between Jules Taylor and Ruby. Played by Andrea Lui James, the two scenes they appear together in are solid and will undoubtedly please both wrestling fans and action enthusiasts. In addition to her extensive fight experience, Trish also received training in Krav Maga, and with Andrea bringing her martial arts expertise, the audience watched wide-eyed and cheered out loud as the rivals exchanged blows and executed their scenes brilliantly. It is the obvious reason this film was accepted into ActionFest, a film festival devoted entirely to the action film genre. Both fight scenes they have are creative, and the fact they are actual fighters adds a certain realism that you just don’t get from the fight scenes we’re used to seeing from the girls out of Hollywood. When asked about performing alongside the legendary WWE Champion, Andrea said it was an invaluable learning experience. “Trish is incredibly generous, supportive, and perceptive – which are the best qualities in a fight partner. When your characters’ intentions are to injure each other, the actors’ priorities must be to protect each other. I always felt very confident and safe working with Trish. That said, we lay a fair beating on each other. Trish’s unrelenting toughness was invaluable, because you can’t shy away from pain if you want to be bad ass!”
This film was truly a nice surprise. To be honest, after seeing a few WWE films, I wasn’t sure what to expect out of a film starring an ex-wrestler. Turns out, that was precisely what ended up making this film as good as it was. By providing explosive, memorable fight scenes, and getting smacked in the face not only by Stratus’ charisma, but by Boomer Phillips’, Bail Enforcers has ‘cult following’ written all over it. I’m curious to see how audiences react to it, but I hope they give it a fair shot. Although it does scream B-movie at times with its writing and overly clichéd moments, it really was alot of fun to watch. Stratus really shines in this film that gives her equal opportunity to showcase both her fighting and acting ability. Another interesting quality this female lead gives us is the ability to not only give a great performance, but to also support her co-star so they shine as well. At the end of the day, this movie left me wanting more Trish – and I’ll take more action between her and Ms. Lui, or action with a side of laughs alongside Phillips.