Sunday, October 7, 2012

Hard Ticket to Hawaii (1987)

Directed by Andy Sidaris

Starring Ronn Moss ("Rowdy Abilene"), Dona Speir ("Donna Hamilton"), Hope Marie Carlton ("Taryn"), and Harold Diamond ("Jade").

I always feel inclined to watch movies with "Hawaii" in the title. Couldn't tell you why, though. Perhaps it may have to do with the fact that I might have lived there at some point in my life. It's always amusing to see somewhere (or something) you're familiar with through the eyes of someone else, and even more so when they're the eyes of B-movie filmmaker Andy Sidaris.

For those not well-versed in the films of the late, great Andy Sidaris, let's take it back a decade or two before he burst onto the scene. For me, it all goes back to Russ Meyer, who is still considered to be the king of Sexploitation movies. His films catered to a certain audience made up of people who enjoy large-breasted women and politically incorrect humor. By the time Andy Sidaris came on the scene in the 80's, Meyer's heyday had already passed, and Sidaris sort of picked up the torch and subsequently specialized in films that catered once again to audiences who enjoyed well-endowed women whose assets were being shamelessly exploited. The only difference is, Sidaris threw guns and explosions into the mix. If you were around and old enough to watch movies late at night on Cinemax back in the 90's, there's a good chance you may have seen one of Sidaris's movies. If images of oiled-up WCW wrestler Buff Bagwell in a Native American head-dress and warpaint are somehow etched in your memory and you don't know how they got there, you can blame Andy Sidaris for that.

HARD TICKET TO HAWAII, as you may have guessed, takes place in the good ol' "Aloha State", and it revolves around an illegal drug operation, a mirrored-Raybans-wearing henchman who's easily distracted by frisbees, two ass-kicking blonde pieces of eye-candy who look like extras from a Motley Crüe video, a couple of musclebound drug enforcers, and a "contaminated" killer snake. Still with me? There's also bazookas (literally and figuratively), a skateboarding assassin, shameless promotion of other Andy Sidaris films, and an abundance of obligatory nudity. And yes, HARD TICKET TO HAWAII is as cool as it sounds. I could probably just end this review right here, but I'll keep going.

Running down the plot for a movie like this is pointless, because there's clearly an emphasis on boobs and action here rather than plot, but, for what it's worth, there actually is a simple and coherent story underneath all of the excess. Essentially, though, HARD TICKET TO HAWAII is a highlight reel of softcore sex, bad acting, and over-the-top death scenes that look like they belong in a slasher movie. Among said highlights are:

-- The two aforementioned blonde women (Dona Speir and Hope Marie Carlton) get attacked by henchmen, only for one of them to produce ninja stars out of her boot and the other to somehow come into the possession of nunchucks, which she just throws at her attacker instead of properly using. After this ordeal, they naturally hit up a jacuzzi and get topless. This confusing but awesome behavior continues throughout the duration of the film. Watching these characters get into various predicaments is pure joy and hilarity.

-- Hands down one of the greatest and most bizarre death-by-bazookas I've ever seen. The unfortunate person on the other end of the bazooka is hit by a Jeep while skateboarding (and carrying a blow-up doll for some reason), launched into the air, and blasted with a bazooka while in mid-air by the driver of the Jeep who has enough time to stop and produce said bazooka. As an added bonus, the guy with the bazooka also decides to blow the shit out of the blow-up doll while it's still in mid-air as well.

-- A frisbee death scene that simply must be seen to be believed. Mere words can't describe the awesomeness of this moment in the film.

-- Dirtbikes, questionable fashion choices, and Harold Diamond.

I think that about sums it up.

Make or Break: The bazooka massacre sequence that I mentioned earlier. Not only the best moment of the film, but one of the best moments in 80's Action cinema period in my opinion.

MVT: I'd like to give it to the duo of Dona Speir and Hope Marie Carlton (hardy har har), but Andy Sidaris is the mastermind behind this film, so it would only make sense if he was MVT.

Score: 6.75/10

I know, after how much I've praised the movie and made it sound like the greatest thing ever, I only gave it a 6.75? While HARD TICKET TO HAWAII does deliver the goods, there's just not enough here to make it a "classic", and it's a little too similar to other Andy Sidaris films that were produced around the same time with a bunch of the same cast members for it to stand out considerably in the context of Andy's filmography. A legitimate complaint I have about this movie, though, is that it just sort of fizzles out by the end instead of going out with a bang. Worth seeking out if this sounds like you're kinda thing, and a good starting point if you're looking to get into the films of The Sidaris.

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