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Plot: druglord avenges his associate’s death. The LETHAL ladies are on the case.

For Picasso Trigger Hawaiian action mogul Andy Sidaris went big. The  guns are bigger, the explosions are bigger and the breasts were pretty big to begin with. Not deterred in the slightest by trivial things such as the absence of budget, talent, or plot, Picasso Trigger bursts at the seams with unparallelled enthusiasm and gusto. Peroxide blondes Dona Speir and Hope Marie Carlton return as ditzy federal agents Donna Hamilton and (still surname-less) Taryn from The Agency (the details of which won't be forthcoming until, at least, 7 episodes from now) and frequently threaten to burst out of their candy-colored bikinis at any given moment. Donna and Taryn are still clothing-averse and prone to breaking out the big guns (both literal and figurative) whenever Moloka’i or Hawaii at large is threatened by the criminal element. Andy Sidaris, like any redblooded male, categorically loves beautiful women, big guns, explosions and bare breasts. His Girls, Guns, and G-Strings series combined everything he loved into one. Picasso Trigger and the Sidaris canon is entertaining when it remains lighthearted and fun. If you enjoyed Hard Ticket to Hawaii (1987) this will be right up your alley.

After the events of Hard Ticket to Hawaii (1987) Donna and Taryn are out snorkeling on a well-deserved vacation. Meanwhile in Paris, France – complete with stock footage from the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe – Salazar (John Aprea) is donating a multi-million Picasso Trigger painting to the Musée des beaux-arts de la ville de Paris as a token of gratitude. On the steps outside of the museum he is gunned down. The assassination is part of an elaborate retaliatory scheme masterminded by druglord Miguel Ortiz (Rodrigo Obregón) to avenge the death of his associate Seth Romero in the preceding movie. LETHAL senior operative L.G. Abilene (Guich Koock) sets up an investigation acquiring the services of Donna and Taryn, Edy Stark (Cynthia Brimhall), his son Travis Abilene (Steve Bond), and trusted The Agency associate Jade (Harold Diamond), who works at Sea Life Park.

Assisting the LETHAL team is the Professor (Patrick LePore) who, just like in Hard Ticket to Hawaii (1987), comes bearing gadgets: a boomerang and a remote controlled racing car both, of course, set with explosives. In tow are Playboy Playmates Liv Lindeland (January 1971), and Roberta Vasquez (November 1984) as Inga and Paris liaison Pantera, respectively. At one point Inga asks the Professor, “do you want a Danish?” after which the Professor starts to untangle her bikini top, apparently oblivious (together with director Andy Sidaris, no doubt) to the fact that Lindeland hails from Norway, not Denmark, after which the famous pastry is named. It's the Professor who utters “killing is an art form”, the movie’s tagline.

Caught up in their own little action-filled subplot, one worthy of a 1970s Jess Franco production, are Playboy Playmates Kym Malin (May 1982) and Patty Duffek (May 1984) as a burlesque line dancing duo Kym & Patticakes. The routine is, of course, part of a deep undercover operation to apprehend a number of local gangsters, their ringleader Charles Patterson (Roy Summersett) and his second-in-command Schiavo (Nicholas Georgiade, as Nick Georgiade). Patterson and Schiavo promise the duo fame and fortune, but Kym and Patticakes remain focused on their mission objective. Upon completion of their mission, the girls relax and take their tops off… or frequently much earlier than that. Not that anybody in particular is complaining.

Perhaps more than any other episode before or since Picasso Trigger takes plenty of time fleshing out (which in Andy Sidaris tradition should be taken quite literally) the various amorous liaisons. Abilene the younger is initially courted by Spanish vixen Pantera, while he's still pursuing Donna. Feelings that Hamilton is all too eager to reciprocitate. In accordance with Abilene family tradition Travis can’t shoot straight no matter how close, or far, he is to his target. He doesn’t drive a red 1981 De Lorean DMC 12, but a 1981 Ferrari 308 GTSi, while he carries his firearm in a cow-skinned briefcase. Travis too lives on a Malibu Express (1985) houseboat. Travis is apparently okay, or unaware, that Donna hooked up with that other Abilene beefcake Rowdy earlier. “I don't have a jealous bone in my body,” Donna says when Travis explains his liaisons with Pantera, “check it out” as she drops her gown.

Taryn shares the jacuzzi with Hondo (Bruce Penhall) who asks her to stay over the weekend. An offer she declines because she’s a professional and she’s “on assignment.” A few scenes later Taryn is seen hooking up with golf-loving Jimmy-John (Wolf Larson). Jade and an agent become an item during the mission. The only relation to carry any emotional-narrative weight is the Pantera-Donna-Travis triangle. Donna quite comically solves the problem by shooting a harpoon at Pantera - who in the interim has revealed to be an enemy operative - the exit wound of which ends up, of course, right between her oversized breasts. Both Bruce Penhall and Roberta Vasquez would become regulars in the franchise in the following  years. Vasquez remains modest through out much of Picasso Trigger, offering plenty of deep cleavage, or the occassional sideboob. It wouldn’t be until Do or Die (1991), Hard Hunted (1993), and Fit to Kill (1993) that she showed off her considerable assets, albeit as a different, more benevolent character. The criminally underused Liv Lindeland would return as a different character in Guns (1990). Lindeland unfortunately never quite made it to the regular main cast.

Steve Bond was a television actor mostly remembered for his parts in General Hospital (1983-1986) and Santa Barbara (1989-1990). Bond would famously cross paths with sometime Tinto Brass muse Debora Caprioglio, or Paprika (1991) herself, in the Sergio Martino erotic thriller Spying On Marina (1992). Martial artist Keith Cooke (who appears as Keith Hirabayashi) - who would go on to portray Reptile in Mortal Kombat (1995), Chance O'Brien in Albert Pyun's Heatseeker (1995), and Sub-Zero in the famously disastrous Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (1997)  – makes a serviceable turn as a wise-cracking goon, especially when he tries to kill Donna and Taryn with a model airplane, and is, quite literally, blown to pieces with a rocket launcher for his trouble. After Picasso Trigger Kym Malin went on to play a bit part as a hostage in the Bruce Willis action hit Die Hard (1988) and that of a party girl in the Patrick Swayze action flick Road House (1989).

Bruce Penhall was in the Ruggero Deodato slasher BodyCount (1986) prior to becoming part of Andy-verse. John Aprea was in Bullitt (1968) with Steve McQueen, The Godfather: Part II (1974) with Al Pacino, and The Game (1997) with Michael Douglas and Sean Penn, among other credits. Harold Diamond would portray the stick fighter in the Sylvester Stallone epic Rambo III (1988). Dennis Alexio played a bit part in the Jean-Claude van Damme martial arts romp Kickboxer (1989). Hope Marie Carlton went on to play a dialog – and clothing-free bit part in A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) alongside a young Jennifer Rubin, and in the Albert Pyun martial arts stinker Bloodmatch (1991) with Thom Mathews. Still pooling talent from Playboy, and Penthouse centerfolds unfortunately Sidaris never saw it fit to offer Angelfist (1993) star Melissa Moore a role. Clearly Sidaris had a very specific beauty standard upon which he based his casting choices.

Hope Marie Carlton, Cynthia Brimhall, Liv Lindeland, and Roberta Vasquez show some semblance of acting skill, while Dona Speir, Patty Duffek, and Kym Malin stand out for all the wrong reasons. John Aprea, Rodrigo Obregón, Keith Cooke, and Nicholas Georgiade act better than what you’d usually expect in an Andy Sidaris production. Helping slightly in differentiating between Speir and Carlton is that Sidaris has now conveniently color-coded them, with Speir and Carlton wearing pink and green outfits respectively. Steve Bond is less of a leading man than Darby Hinton and Ronn Moss were, but to compensate he gets to roll in the hay with Dona Speir and Roberta Vasquez. The minimal plot is merely pretext for a series of tangentially related setpieces mostly revolving around scandily-clad women, big guns, and bigger explosions. Picasso Trigger knows what it is, and never professes to be anything else. An Andy Sidaris production is free from the usual rules that apply to low budget action movies of this kind - and, as would become clear the farther the franchise, well, not progressed so much as continued to exist - sometimes even old Andy didn't know how to make sense of the rules he set. In the Andy-verse there are usually two solutions to whatever problem the protagonists happen to face. One involves disproportionate guns, funny quips/one-liners and stuff blowing up in the most ridiculous way possible. The other is naked breasts, preferably a multitude of them and from a variety of Playboy and Penthouse models.

As with any early installment from the Girls, Guns, and G-Strings series it's clear that everybody was out to have a good time. From the bright, sunny beach locations, to the skimpy candy-colored bikinis, the ridiculous spy gadgets, and the abundance of bodacious babes in minimal fabric – Andy Sidaris aims for fun. One has to be completely heartless not to crack a smile at the sheer preposterousness of the affair. The explosions match the breasts in size, and when the girls fail to say their lines believably, Sidaris has them taking their tops off, often repeatedly. As history would come to show, bigger is always better in the Andy-verse. While the breasts might grow in size disproportionately as sequels followed, none of them would be quite the fun-filled romps that were Hard Ticket to Hawaii (1987) and Picasso Trigger. There may be many producers and directors that are better writers, better technicians, just better overall – but it remains debatable whether they are able to provide the same amount of fun per capita as Andy Sidaris and his team.

Plot: two DEA agents are murdered in Hawaii. LETHAL Ladies are on the case. 

Hawaiian spy-action mogul Andy Sidaris didn't arrive at his signature series by mistake. During the seventies he helmed Stacey (1973) and Seven (1979), a detective and action romp, respectively. Stacey (1973) had the beautiful, top-heavy women and Seven (1979) had all the spy-action, gimmicks and assorted gags that are supposed to pass for humor. It wasn't until Malibu Express (1985) in the mid of the following decade that Sidaris more or less formulated the ins and outs of his most enduring property. What better than to combine the babes from Stacey (1973) with the spy-action from Seven (1979)? To arrive there the waters were tested with Malibu Express (1985), a loose remake of his earlier Stacey (1973), the transitional piece between his earlier productions and what was to become the LETHAL Ladies series. However, Malibu Express (1985) only became a precursor to the series thanks to some ret-conning in Hard Ticket to Hawaii (1987).

Hard Ticket to Hawaii at long last manifested everything that Sidaris would forever be associated with: blonde babes in candy-colored bikinis working for a government agency that everybody simply refers to as The Agency (the details of which won't be forthcoming until, at least, 8 episodes from now), comically big guns, random explosions, miniature models armed with explosives, funny one-liners and less than subtle innuendo set to perfunctory action plots that allow for as much intentional – and situational female nudity as humanly possible. Sidaris makes absolutely no pretense or qualms as to why he turned to directing any of these low budget action romps. Hard Ticket to Hawaii brims with vibrant energy, an indomitable joie de vivre and, like its predecessor, it is plain, good old fashioned fun with an abundance of peroxide blondes with oversized naked breasts as a bonus.

In Hard Ticket to Hawaii platinum blonde The Agency operatives Donna Hamilton (Dona Speir) and the for now surname-less, James Bond obsessed Taryn (Hope Marie Carlton) (whose last name we won't be learning until, at least, 8 episodes from now) investigate the circumstances surrounding the murder of two DEA agents in sunny Moloka’i, Hawaii. Donna and Taryn moonlight as an aircraft cargo service where they, unwittingly, come in possession of a diamond shipment from South American drug lord Seth Romero (Rodrigo Obregón) and accidentally set loose a contaminated, radio-active giant python in the environs. Thankfully Rowdy Abilene (Ron Moss) who, like Cody Abilene before him, couldn’t shoot straight if his life depended on it, and his friend Jade (Harold Diamond) lend their muscles and guns to help the lovely ladies out. Are there plenty of ridiculous big guns? Does plenty of stuff blow up for no reason? Do Donna and Taryn take their top off whenever possible? Is there a jacuzzi scene and are there endless montages of the girls changing clothes? You betcha…

Once again Sidaris pooled talent from the same well as before. The cast is an assembly of one or two name stars, regional celebrities, humble unknowns and Playboy Playmates in lead and supporting roles. Wheras Malibu Express (1985) had Darby Hinton, famous for his turn in Filipino topless kickboxing movie Naked Fist (1981), as its name star Hard Ticket to Hawaii boasts none other than The Bold and the Beautiful (1987) heartthrob Ridge Forrester, better known as Ron Moss, who had just started playing his iconic role. The agents are played by Playboy Playmates Dona Speir (March 1984), and Hope Marie Carlton (July 1985) who, true to form, tend to fill their bras out better than their roles. Other notables are Cynthia Brimhall (October 1985) as restaurateur Edy Stark and Patty Duffek (May 1984) in a small role as Patticakes, which doesn't stop them from getting naked as often as leading ladies Donna and Taryn. Dona Speir and Hope Marie Carlton would remain with the series for several more episodes and Cynthia Brimhall would eventually be promoted to regular cast member. Sidaris would milk the formula for all it was worth, and produce another 8 loosely related sequels from 1985 to 1998. While various cast members were carried over from sequel to sequel each had its own selection of Playboy Playmates in recurring roles. Dona Speir was pretty much the series mascot during the eighties and early nineties entries of the franchise.

Even though Hard Ticket to Hawaii is the first of the Girls, Guns, and G-Strings series there are references, direct and indirect, to Malibu Express (1985). When we first see Rowdy Abilene he is making out with an unidentified female in front of the Malibu Express (1985). In a moment of retroactive continuity Donna and Taryn identify and name-check Cody Abilene as a fellow agent by saying that they are sad that he “left The Agency to become an actor.” When Rowdy tries to gun down an assailant his buddy Jade screams, “A bazooka, Rowdy?” to which Abilene dryly replies that “it's the only gun I can hit a moving target with” ascertaining that shooting straight isn’t an Abilene family trait. It also helps that Donna and Taryn’s apartment has posters from Malibu Express (1985) and Stacey (1973) adorning the walls. A running gag of sorts has Taryn constantly referencing James Bond movies much in the same way Cody Abilene quoted Clint Eastwood in Malibu Express (1985).

Helping the comic book factor there’s a scene where a skateboarding assassin is blown to pieces from close range by a rocket launcher and an enemy operative is killed by partial dismemberment with a frisbee, but not after Abilene has complimented a nearby beach babe on her “nice ass.”  A bumbling, thoroughly distracted patron (director Sidaris in a cameo) places an order for a “pair of coffee” at Edy’s restaurant while staring directly into her widely exposed and massive cleavage. Sidaris loves breasts as much as the average guy does. It's as if Russ Meyer made an action movie where all the girls take their tops off for no logical reason, sometimes at opportune moments and sometimes not. The average Andy Sidaris movie is dumb as a rock to put it mildly. It’s not high art, it never professes to be. It’s about having fun, first and foremost, and Hard Ticket to Hawaii is loads more fun than some of the later episodes would be. What better way to kill 90 minutes then with a movie with babes and big guns? It could be worse.

It goes without saying that Dona Speir and Hope Marie Carlton weren’t hired for their acting chops. Of the delectable duo Carlton possesses a semblance of acting skill, even though Dona Speir became inevitably more identified with Andy Sidaris. At times it’s impossible to tell both apart since both are comely and peroxide blondes. However Dona Speir usually has big, puffy hair and Hope Marie Carlton does not. Speir’s character is the ditzy blonde stereotype, who does all her best thinking in the jacuzzi, while Carlton’s Taryn is at one point described as “worldly”, an informed attribute that is immediately countered by having her speak Spanish to a pair of Sumo wrestlers. That two ditzy blondes (one chestier than the other, apparently indicative of acting skill, or lack thereof) end up chasing and eventually destroying what by all means is a giant phallic symbol is funny on several levels, not in the least because they are helped in doing so by one Ron Moss.

Of course it is the farthest from quality cinema as any person is likely to get, but that doesn’t stop it from being an enjoyable rollercoaster if that's what you’re in the mood for. Even for an action movie the plot is paper thin and largely an excuse for a few modest setpieces. What makes Hard Ticket to Hawaii so enjoyable is the barely concealable enthusiasm, vigor and gusto that clearly went into the production. Andy Sidaris set out to have a good time surrounded with beautiful women, and he did. Half of the time it has the feel of an episode of Magnum, P.I. (1980-1988) but with an overabundance of jiggling naked breasts. What's not to like? Where else are you going to see bodacious babes in skimpy candy-colored bikinis shooting comically oversized guns at caricatural bad guys in the exotic locale of Hawaii? Not even old Andy would be able to recreate the lightning in a bottle he caught with Hard Ticket to Hawaii. That didn't stop him from trying, though.