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Plot: federal agents and mercenaries wage war over Civil War gold treasure.

In 1993 Malibu Bay Films mascot Dona Speir uttered the prophetic words, “my work here is done” at the conclusion of Fit to Kill, the closing chapter to Andy Sidaris’ multi-decade spanning LETHAL Ladies franchise, a series he had been dedicated much of his life to at that point, or at least since 1985 (although it was conceived as far back as 1973.) Picking up where his father left off Christian Drew Sidaris produced and directed the two expanded universe episodes Enemy Gold (1993) and The Dallas Connection (1994) with his Skyhawks Films in the two years that followed. What Christian Drew would come to learn was that with great boobs comes great responsibility and that you can’t go replacing beloved platinum blonde duo Dona Speir and Hope Marie Carlton with just about any random pair of boobs and expect the same results. History would record the two Christian Drew Sidaris directed parallel sequels as retroactively serving to link the 1980s and 1990s periods of Sidaris the elder. Holding it all together and illuminating this rather confusing period in LETHAL Ladies history was the Sybil Danning of the 1990s and newly-minted series icon, the late great Julie Strain.

Whereas his father had spent over a decade experimenting with and honing the formula for his LETHAL Ladies when Christian Drew Sidaris stepped into the breach he didn’t have innovation on his mind. Instead he simply branched out out within the existing universe while largely adhering to the same principles as his father. The original LETHAL Ladies were a series of fun-loving spy/action romps set in and around the lush and verdant islands of Hawaii with the thinnest veneer of story as a pretext for an abundance of explosions, shootouts, and funny one-liners. What little story there was largely existed as a preamble to have a rotating bevy of bosomy belles in candy-colored bikinis bounce around and break out the big guns, both literal and figurative, as soon and as often as humanly possible. Sidaris the younger mostly eschews odious comic relief assassins, gadgets and rigged model miniatures and the Hawaii locales have been replaced by Shreveport and Bossier City, Louisiana masquerading as Texas. During his two year tenure stewarding the series Christian Drew tried his darndest to find the right pair (interpret that any way you want) but he never quite was able to recreate the chemistry between Dona Speir and Hope Marie Carlton. In two years and as many episodes he would try several but only Julie Strain would remain.

Suzi Simpson, Tanquil Lisa Collins and Julie Strain are the main attractions here. Simpson and Collins are the typical Sidaris platinum blonde beach bunnies whereas Strain was not only vertically superior with her towering 6'1½" but she also was entirely stacked with her mouth-watering 40D (90D) bust. Suzi Simpson was Miss District of Columbia Teen USA 1984 and landed a part in a 1984 Pepsi commercial starring Michael Jackson. From there she scored small roles in St. Elmo’s Fire (1985), appeared in the Aerosmith music video ‘Love in an Elevator’ from 1989 as well as Men at Work (1990). She was Playboy's Playmate of the Month for January 1992 and was a regular warm body in many of their home videos. Tanquil "Tai" Lisa Collins was Miss Virginia 1983, was on the cover of Playboy (October 1991) and her alleged affair with senator Charles “Chuck” Robb was subject on an Arny Freytag article "The Governor and the Beauty". As an actress she could be seen in Thunder in Paradise (1994), Baywatch (1995-2000) (for which she wrote several episodes) in 1996 and 1997 and Baywatch Nights (1995-1997) in 1996. Naturally, she figured into the June 1998 "The Babes Of Baywatch" in Playboy. In more recent years Collins has completely reinvented herself and these days is mostly known as a humanitarian and philanthropist.

Kym Malin was a regular in the Andy-verse by this point. She rose to fame with small roles in Die Hard (1988) and Road House (1989) and appeared in Picasso Trigger (1988) and Guns (1990). Stacy Lynn Brown and Angela Wright had no association with Playboy, Penthouse, or Hustler and were purely meant as eyecandy. As beautiful as these women were the series never quite recovered from the loss of Hope Marie Carlton, Liv Lindeland and Cynthia Brimhall. It wouldn’t be until The Dallas Connection (1994) the following year that Julie K. Smith woud join the cast and establish the next generation of LETHAL Ladies. Julie Strain was the kind of woman born to be in an Sidaris flick, dominated every scene she was in and set the new proportional standard.

In 1864, the Battle of Pleasant Hill. General Quantrell (Don Primrose Jr.) orders twelve of his men to break off behind enemy lines and disrupt the Union supply chain and seize a buillion of gold deep in the woods of Bossier, Texas. The men are attacked and slain by Union soldiers but two men manage to flee with the gold in tow. While one of them is mortally wounded a Confederate Lieutenant (Carl Weatherly) buries the treasure on the root of a big tree, marking it with his knife and writing everything down in his journal. Busy committing his story to paper the soldier is killed by an unseen assailant (Marcus Bagwell). More than a century later, in 1993), federal agents Chris Cannon (Bruce Penhall) and Mark Austin (Mark Barriere) are preparing a raid on a farm used in the drug-running business of Bolivian narcos Carlos Santiago (Rodrigo Obregón, as Rodrigo Obregon). They are interrupted by the arrival of fellow agent Becky Midnite (Suzi Simpson). The three quickly lay out a strategy where Midnite will provide a much-needed distraction whereas Cannon and Austin will gather evidence and apprehend and arrest whoever they can find. In the ensuing fracas the three cause massive collateral damage and when Cannon and Austin are making their arrests The Agency division chief Dickson (Alan Abelew) shows up out of nowhere. He summarily suspends the men for not following agency procedure, failing to produce the correct paperwork and using excessive force during their clandestine operation.

The sudden suspension of the three agents raises the flags of team leader Ava Noble (Tanquil Lisa Collins, as Tai Collins) who cross-examines Dickson over his motivations. Now suddenly overwhelmed by unscheduled leisure time the three decide to make the best of the situation. They agree on a camping trip while they’re in the woods of Bossier, Texas. By sheer luck and happenstance the three unearth the hidden treasure. To the outside world Santiago poses as a debonair entrepreneur with his high-end Cowboy’s club & restaurant in Bossier City, Los Angeles, California. Unknown to but a select few, including hostess Kym (Kym Malin) and Santiago’s concubines (Stacy Lynn Brown, as as Stacey Lyn Brown and Angela Wright) it also functions as the heart of his criminal empire. First the Bolivian crimelord orders his incompetent henchmen Rip (Tom Abbott) and Slash (Ron Browning) to take out the agents but when that fails he’s forced to take more drastic measures. For interfering with his operations and causing him to lose $20 million in street value cocaine Santiago calls upon his good friend Jewell Panther, known professionally as The Amazon (Julie Strain) and described as “as deadly as she is beautiful”, picks her up at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport with orders to neutralize the federal threat. As Noble digs deeper into Dickson’s case she discovers far too late that he has ulterior motives and that he was corrupt and a compromised asset all this time. As Santiago grows more desperate and The Agency digs deeper into the case a clash between the two factions becomes an inevitability.

If Enemy Gold feels familiar despite not being set in and around Hawaii and featuring none of the classic cast – that’s because Christian Drew recombines several plotpoints and iconic scenes from his father’s original series. Enemy Gold opens with a drug bust gone belly up just like in Savage Beach (1989). An agent of good is in cahoots with the enemy just like Pantera in Picasso Trigger (1988) and the violent tug of war over an ancient gold treasure was used earlier in Savage Beach (1989). The villain is blown up by rocket launcher just like in Picasso Trigger (1988) and Guns (1990). Becky Midnite is prone to wearing tank tops and bootyshorts just as Donna and Taryn in Savage Beach (1989), Picasso Trigger (1988) and Hard Ticket to Hawaii (1987). Midnite and Ava Noble are peroxide blondes in the good old Sidaris tradition. Angela Wright, one of the unnamed dancers in the Cowboy’s club, wears the same suspender-hose combo as Cynthia Brimhall in Do or Die (1991). The vacation cabin doubled as a restaurant earlier in Do or Die (1991) and the helicopter killshot was recreated almost verbatim from Do or Die (1991) and Hard Hunted (1992). The prerequisite shower -, hot tub – and dressing scenes are all here and account for much of the nudity. For all intents and purposes Enemy Gold is the lightest redressing of Savage Beach (1989). Christian Drew stays close to his father’s established model but Sidaris the elder’s exercises in spy-action pulp were generally, but not always, funnier and wittier than this.

With Suzi Simpson and Tanquil Lisa Collins manifesting no visible acting talent and Julie K. Smith set to arrive in the next episode all eyes fall on the late great Julie Strain who, quite literally, towers above everybody else. Enemy Gold was Julie’s second go-round as a villain in the Andy-verse – and, unlike the tradition of Sidaris the elder, she would persevere as a villain in The Dallas Connection (1994), the second and last Christian Drew Sidaris production. Likewise would Strain, who played a villain in Fit to Kill, return as an The Agency operative in Day Of the Warrior (1996) and Return to Savage Beach (1998) from Sidaris the elder. Something which, lest we be remiss to mention, only Roberta Vasquez preceded her in. Strain is up, front and center in Enemy Gold, eclipsing every other female in the cast and her character is given a seductive campfire dance for absolutely no other reason than capturing Strain’s ample curvature on camera. Nobody watches these things for the story or characters anyway. Everybody in the Andy-verse has a penchant for wearing impractical battle-gear and Jewell Panther – seemingly a recombination of Roberta Vasquez’ Pantera from Picasso Trigger (1988) and Ava Cadell’s assassin Ava from Do or Die (1991) – can be seen strutting around in either lingerie or leather-and-studs worthy of a 1980s metal music video. Most of the time she’s wearing not much at all because why hire somebody like Julie and burden her with trivial things such as clothes? Not that there’s any shortage of boobs.

Sidaris the younger may not have gloriously risen to the occassion by stepping into the limelight and out of his father’s shadow. While Christian Drew kept the bumbling cartoonish henchmen to an absolute minimum he also excised the running gag of remote controlled model planes/helicopters with it. Thankfully the gun-toting, wisecracking, top-dropping action babes were never tampered with and they keep on baring breasts and arms, usually in that order. Rejuvenation was wanted, nay, perhaps needed as old Andy’s formula was started to wear thin and fatigue crept into later episodes. No other series canonized and celebrated the naked female form the way old Andy did (his only closest contemporary probably being Tinto Brass in Italy). Nobody watches an Andy Sidaris flick for the story or the characters and the only depth was, is, and continues to be found in the cleavage of the various ladies. Even in this younger incarnation the Andy-verse remains staunchly Caucasian in every respect. Enemy Gold makes a person nostalgic for the more innocuous times of Malibu Express (1985) when Lynda Weismeier was the most ridiculous of outliers and who had an ass to match. The fixation on proportion wouldn’t become truly problematic until Sidaris the younger dragged his father out of retirement and he duly made his return several years later.

Plot: lone officer stands between terrorists and apocalyptic annihilation.

Interceptor makes exactly zero qualms about what it is. Described by director Matthew Reilly as a throwback to the late 1980s/early 1990s American action movie Interceptor replaces the retrograde and regressive machismo of the 1980s with progressive and socially conscious (or woke, a pejorative to some) sensibilities of the current day. Savaged by critics and review-bombed into oblivion by irate legions of anti-SJW hordes for all the obvious and not-so obvious reasons the dour reputation Interceptor has managed to garner in record time is entirely (and richly) deserved. Expelled from Hollywood's ever-shriveling creative colon to little fanfare and even littler positive press Interceptor makes Gods Of Egypt (2016) look sophisticated. Contra rationem and all expectations it clocked in a mind boggling 50 million hours viewed almost overnight. Netflix, understandably, immediately greenlit a sequel. Meanwhile, Netflix remains ever silent on long overdue sequels to BuyBust (2018), Furie (2019) and Maria (2019).

A labor of love on part of director Matthew Reilly, producer/writer Stuart Beattie and actor Chris Hemsworth (who executive produced and cameos) Interceptor is as blatant, obvious and naked a homage as, say, Blast (1997). At the very least this one has its heart in the right place as it liberally borrows the central premise (and entire scenes) from Die Hard (1988), the military setting of Under Siege (1992) while lifting a crucial plotpoint wholesale from The Rock (1996). Filmed over a brief 33 days in New South Wales, Australia on a modest budget of just $15 million Hemsworth installed his wife Elsa Pataky as the lead (Netflix would probably have gone with Katee Sackhoff) and was able to attract action director/choreographer Sam Hargrave to the project. And just like Vincenzo Natali’s infinitely superior Cube (1997) everything was filmed on a single set. Needless to say Interceptor often looks like a videogame due to an overabundance of blue/green screen composition and digital post-production effects. Lest there be any doubt, this is a low to mid-budget action movie on a tried-and-true formula; one that Hawaiian trash specialist Albert Pyun and Cirio H. Santiago perfected several decades ago.

Reassigned to a remote interceptor launch site somewhere in the Pacific Ocean after the conclusion a high-profile and much-publicized case of sexual misconduct by a five-star general (Kim Knuckey) disgraced captain J. J. Collins (Elsa Pataky) is deployed to be less of a nuisance to the top military brass. After being welcomed aboard and briefed by captain John Welsh (Paul Caesar) J. J. is given her chambers while lieutenant colonel Clark Marshall (Rhys Muldoon) takes the time introduce her team in the command center: signal analyst corporal Rahul Shah (Mayen Mehta) and outwardly bigot corporal Beaver Baker (Aaron Glenane). When she lays eyes upon former military intelligence officer Alexander Kessel (Luke Bracey) and Fort Greely in Alaska is overtaken by enemy forces and 16 nuclear warheads are simultaneously seized from Russia she senses something is afoot. Her worst fears are confirmed when Kessel hijacks the platform and Beaver is revealed to be the traitor in their midst. Kessel threatens to annihilate 16 American cities if his demands are not met. Collins first tries to reason with Kessel but when he sends in his goons and second-in-command Kira (Ingrid Kleinig) to kill her, all bets are off. With the warheads set to deploy in 12 minutes, Collins wages a desperate war of attrition to avoid a mass nuclear holocaust.

JJ strips down to a white wifebeater just like John McClane in Die Hard (1988) and like Casey Ryback in Under Siege (1992) she too is a disgraced military operative. Kessel’s threat of nuclear annihilation is identical to that of Francis X. Hummel in The Rock (1996) and Beaver’s ultimate demise echoes that of Karl in Die Hard (1988) and that of a Russian heavy enemy combatant in Rambo III (1988). As a nostalgia throwback this ticks all the required boxes without any grave deviations from the established genre conventions. It’s the sort of thing that Steven Seagal used to make a living at before he descended into direct-to-streaming hell. From the opening scene the plot unfolds exactly the way you think it will and every character conforms to its designated archetype. Naturally there are no real surprises at any point. History seems to be repeating itself as Interceptor is exactly the kind of thing that production companies and distributors shat onto the booming home video market 40 years ago, except now it’s Netflix dumping it unceremoniously onto its once-leading streaming service. If this is any indication of the quality in the future of the service it looks like their best days are now well and truly behind them. Netflix once was better than this.

Not too make too much of a point of it but everything is a bit rough around the edges here. For one the choreography and direction is a lot more fluent and graceful than usual in American action, but it’s still far too clunky and brawly. Pataky does the best with what she’s given and there’s an absolute minimum of cutting during the routines. Can Sandra Escacena, Nicole Bilderback, Ella Hunt or Analyn Barro finally get their big action movie now? The edgy writing is about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the temple (or groin) as it duly checks off just about every hot-button issue and controversial political event. It’s all here: #MeToo, the American elections, Russian nuclear armageddon, bigotry, willfull ignorance in the Information Age and right-wing grifters and conspiracy theories. No wonder the MAGA blockheads and anti-SJW crowds went absolutely ape-shit over this. The proselytizing is so much on the nose that it borders on shit-posting. While we’re sympathetic (and very much in favor) of the politics that Interceptor espouses there are more elegant and subtle ways of doing this sort of thing. Pataky’s thick native Spanish inflection occassionally makes her unintelligible and in the tenser scenes Bracey will regress, wittingly or otherwise, back to his Oz accent. Considering the brutally unnatural circumstances under which was filmed, it isn’t half bad. The special effects are a mix of practical and digital which is admirable in and of itself.

What there’s to say about what basically amounts to a direct-to-video mid-budget actioner that’s utilitarian and by the numbers? Well, that. Interceptor is utilitarian and by the numbers. Not once is Interceptor touched by the sacred flame of inspiration. There’s something admirable about doing on a feature on one location and when in the third act JJ does finally break out of the bridge/command center and ventures to the exterior of the platform, it makes you wonder why Reilly didn’t use it more. In Die Hard (1988) and Under Siege (1992) every enemy kill represented a milestone within the larger story. Not so here. While the initial kill of Machale is at least halfway promising the rest of the goons are uneventfully and matter-of-factly killed in close-quarter combat. JJ’s facing off with Kira and finally Kessel feels so underwhelming that it makes you wonder why these two were made out to be supposed formidable adversaries. And that’s the thing with Interceptor. It’s good for what it is, but it never aspires to be anything more than a sum of its parts. Perhaps the proposed sequel will build on what’s set up here – but as a stand-alone feature it leaves something to be desired. Time will tell whether Interceptor will be remembered as the surprise hit of 2022.