Story: K.C. Carr (Raquel Welch) wants to have it all, a family, a rich personal life, and her ambitions of being famous, but of course, that’s a tall order for anyone, let alone a struggling single mother. She makes ends meet by playing roller derby, which she is good at and proves to be a draw for the fans, but she has issues with being part of a team and without fail, winds up as an outsider on whichever teams she joins. After losing a “loser leaves town” brawl, she winds up traded to The Loggers, though a clerical issue has her playing for the rival team for a bit, which doesn’t win her any fast friends. As she tries to fit in and make the best of the situation, she battles loneliness, guilt, and inner conflict, as she tries to pursue her career, but also keep her home life in focus. Can K.C. make things work in her new surroundings, or will the pressure of trying to balance so many aspects of her life prove to be too much?
Entertainment Value: A gritty 70s movie about the roller derby circuit that stars Raquel Welch, has authentic locations, and is well crafted from top to bottom? That’s what we have with Kansas City Bomber, a fantastic movie that captures the chaos of the sport so well and builds a believable, lived in world around the narrative. The roller derby games have such authentic atmosphere, so much attention to detail must have gone into those segments, to capture it all so well. The scene where Horrible Hank comes unglued is a highlight, as it feels so real, but also like a performance to those characters in the stands, so roller derby’s wild side is certainly showcased here. There is ample action on the track, but there’s also some great character depth, performances, and storytelling here, so Kansas City Bomber gets a lot right. I’ve seen this several times and it never fails to entertain, so I give this one a high recommendation.
As if the gritty, authentic texture of the movie wasn’t enough, Raquel Welch absolutely shines in Kansas City Bomber, in an excellent performance. She is iconic in the roller derby gear, but she doesn’t just look good, she looks like she belongs on the track and embodies the free spirited nature of the sport. She is vulnerable and human, but ultra tough and resourceful as well, so she crafts quite a memorable, likable character with K.C. The script gives her plenty to work with and Welch puts it all to good use, making a K.C. genuine and memorable lead. And did I mention how iconic she looks in the roller derby uniform? Kevin McCarthy turns in a good effort as well, as the lecherous owner of The Loggers, while the role is a smaller one, Norman Alden is memorable as Horrible Hank. The cast also includes Jodie Foster, Jeanne Cooper, Cornelia Sharpe, and Richard Lane.
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