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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.

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Kawehi is different from the soulless drab that clogs the airwaves, and the focus-group tested artists that make up the popular music charts. Instead she’s an indie artist that has been diligently working to get where she is today. A bright and shining beacon of talent in a genre that has been often associated with mass-produced vapidity and forgetfulness. “Robot Heart” EP is an independently produced, and released EP that comes on the back of a series of successful cover song videos that have been setting the internet (and particularly Vimeo and YouTube) alight over the last months. Kawehi writes electronically charged soulful pop songs that sound just a tad different than most.

Where a lot of contemporary pop music is produced by a battery of producers, songwriters and engineers with little to no involvement from the performing artist – Honolulu, Hawaii born Kawehi writes, produces and sings all of her own songs. That indie spirit and hands-on approach not only makes Kawehi appealing to those outside of the clutches of mainstream music, it makes her just more honest and deserving altogether. Prior to releasing “Robot Heart” Kawehi cut a number of singles, demos and independent EPs before reaching a zenith with “Songs From My Apartment”. The “Songs From My Apartment” EP, which pretty much sells what it says on the tin – gave her a footing to come into her own as a budding young songwriter, and it was the first to reach a wider audience as it received some favorable press on its release. Currently living in Lawrence, Kansas with her musician husband (who produces most of her internet videos), things have been slowly falling in place for Kawehi, and “Robot Heart” should provide her a breakthrough a larger audience. If anything, the songs and keen sense for memorable hooks are definitely accounted for. “Robot Heart” is driven by a warm, pulsating electronic beat that lives up rather splendidly to the EP’s title. Despite the wholly electronic nature of Kawehi’s songs they are never without a heart, or a soul.

As a runner up to the EP she produced a number of cover songs to draw attention to her Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. These include but are not limited to her viral hit ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ (Nirvana), 'Fake Plastic Trees' (Radio Head), ‘Closer’ (Nine Inch Nails) and ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ (Gotye).  “Robot Heart” is a charming little EP filled with heartwarming electro soul, similar to the material Timbaland produced for late r&b star Aaliyah. In its more electronic material it sometimes borders on a soulful, more danceable interpretation of Nine Inch Nails’ “Pretty Hate Machine”. Soul is what binds this EP together, and its genre of choice. It isn’t the only sound it goes for, however, and that’s one of its strengths, Kawehi doesn’t limit herself to any genre, and just chooses whatever works best for the song in question.  Electronica, soul, rock – it’s all here, and it all flows together seamlessly. Kawehi makes it all sound so effortless, yet there’s a surprising amount of depth to her songs besides just being catchy, groovy and soulful.

Kawehi has a wonderfully warm but fragile voice that holds the middleground between Mandy Moore, Taylor Swift and Colbie Callait. That the music she writes to accompagny her is so minimal works wonders for her angelic voice. That isn’t to say that her songs are written around her vocals, both work in service of each other and the songs more than anything else. It isn’t as vocal-centric as a lot of popular mainstream music tends to be, and that’s a nice change of pace. Nothing on this EP is an afterthought, and even the interludes ‘Interwebs’, ‘Human Condition’ and ‘Droid Dance’ serve a purpose as they form introductory moodsetting segues to each of the original songs. The title track works around a simple electronic beat, some synthesizers and a few vocal tracks. The lyrics use the metaphor of computer paraphernalia as a metaphor for infatuation and feeling in love. The track flows seamlessly into the interlude ‘Interwebs’, which in turn sets the mood for the touching soulful ballad ‘Like Her’. This is the kind of soul (or r&b) that isn’t heard too much anymore on the radio. Its simplicity is its greatest forte. The second half of the EP, starting with ‘0s and 1s’, is more electronic compared to the first half – and somewhat reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails’ “Pretty Hate Machine” or Moby's early dance material (around the time of 'Go') that way.

Given the dire state of popular music at any given time, it is unfortunate that actual gifted songwriters, such as young hopefuls Kawehi and Polaris Rose, are forced to work outside of the industry. As always the indie artists are the ones who hold the true potential to become future superstars. Not being bound by any one genre, or limited by any of its tropes and conventions, Kawehi’s “Robot Heart” has something for everybody, and is highly recommended as such. Since this is only an EP one can assume that Kawehi is currently working on a full length comprising of songs like these. The EP flows well, and each of the songs are placed perfectly, and even the skippable interludes don’t detract too much from the meat of the EP. It could be argued that the EP is a bit too short of a teaser to truly get a feel for Kawehi’s electronic soul. Nevertheless, for a conceptual undertaking that was home-produced and independently marketed this is absolutely fantastic in both content and production. If Kawehi continues to expand her horizons and evolve musically, she’s bound to breakthrough to the general mainstream popular music consciousness. It’s all here. It just needs some additional finetuning to unlock its underlying potential. Open your heart to Kawehi and let her “Robot Heart” stir yours.