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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younger mostly eschews odious comic relief assassins, gadgets and rigged model miniatures and the Hawaii locales have been replaced by Shreveport and Bossier City, Louisiana masquerading as Texas.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: diamond is stolen from high-profile target. LETHAL Ladies are on the case.

Andy Sidaris closed the book on the original LETHAL Ladies franchise with Fit to Kill, the conclusion of the three-part Kane storyline and the last of the 5-picture deal that Sidaris brokered after the home video success of Picasso Trigger (1988). Not all episodes were created equal, and some were just plain better than others. The LETHAL Ladies movies never aspired to anything more than fun-loving spy/action romps set in and around Hawaii with a rotating bevy of bosomy belles in candy-colored bikinis and where explosions, shootouts, and an abundance of oversized breasts stood in for trivial things such as inter-episode continuity, ongoing plot, and character development. For a while the series had been losing steam but good old Andy had found a new muse in the interim. The last original LETHAL Ladies chapter Fit to Kill is a glorious throwback to the halcyon days of Hard Ticket to Hawaii (1987) and Savage Beach (1989).

The franchise always largely served as an excuse to flaunt big guns (both literal and figurative), oversized explosions, and the thinnest veneer of a spy-action plot. Nobody loved beautiful women more than the late Andy Sidaris and what better way to get into their good graces than to promise them stardom? In their six years with the series Dona Speir, Roberta Vasquez, and Cynthia Brimhall all had become, to lesser or greater extent, superstars in their own little corner of cult cinema. After Hope Marie Carlton bade the series farewell after Savage Beach (1989) it effectively made Dona Speir the de facto series mascot. Years of headlining the LETHAL Ladies had taken their toll on Speir and she was ready to move on. Fit to Kill was the last featuring Speir, Vasquez, and Brimhall and (obviously) new blood and bodies were needed. Sidaris the elder was, for all intents and purposes, ready to retire the series and what was more fit to kill the franchise than the “Andy’s greatest hits” that was Fit to Kill? In the two years that followed Andy’s son Christian Drew took up the mantle and produced the two expanded universe episodes Enemy Gold (1993) and The Dallas Connection (1994) with his Skyhawks Films. Sidaris the younger may not have gloriously risen to the occassion, but he managed to extend the series’ lifespan beyond what was reasonably expected of it. Both Sidaris universes merged in Day of the Warrior (1996) and Return to Savage Beach (1998).

To keep its operatives sharp The Agency is organizing war games. After the obligatory swim in the resident pool Donna Hamilton (Dona Speir) and Nicole Justin (Roberta Vasquez) engage Shane Abilene (Michael J. Shane, as Michael Shane) and Bruce Christian (Bruce Penhall) in a round of paintball and target practice. Meanwhile at Aladdin Resort & Casino, Martin Kane (Geoffrey Moore, as RJ Moore) is hatching a convoluted plan to bring down federal agent Hamilton, lure his former criminal associate Po (Craig Ng, as Craig Ryan Ng) into the open, and take possession of the vaunted Alexa diamond. At no point does Silk (Carolyn Liu), an Agency informant, find it necessary to relay any of this information. Having failed to produce the Klystron Relay nuclear trigger as ordered, Kane has now fallen out of Po’s and his client’s favor making him fair game for not respecting the criminal code. Po has dispatched statuesque leather-clad hitwoman Blu Steele (Julie Strain) to collect the outstanding debt and the prize on his head.

Back at the The Agency headquarters Lucas (Tony Peck) briefs the agents of their latest objective: the infiltration of a high-society black-tie event wherein philanthropist and entrepreneur Chang (Aki Aleong) will cordially donate the Russian imperial diamond stolen from the Leningrad museum during World War II to a Russian diplomat as an act of restoration. The Agency will monitor the diamond, handle security, and oversee the exchange. It sounds like a simple enough operation. Edy (Cynthia Brimhall) and Lucas commence the necessary preparations, while Donna and Bruce reconoiter the event perimeter for any possible breaches. Nicole busies herself with screening all of the invitees and personnel. Rookie agent Ava (Ava Cadell) will act as a delegate to meet Russian diplomat Mikael Petrov (Rodrigo Obregón, as Rodrigo Obregon) and his aide Gregor (Mark Barriere). Shane Abilene will stay behind at the offices of K SXY radio and familiarize new Agency trainee Sandy (Sandra Wild) with all the necessary procedures, in theory and in practice, before her first field operation. In the confusion at the black-tie party Kane’s tracking necklace is stolen (among other riches) leading Nicole and Bruce on a hurried retrieval mission while being chased by bumbling assassins Evil (Chu Chu Malave) and Kinevil (Richard Cansino). When the true culprit finally reveals himself Donna, Kane, and a few bystanders are abducted. An explosive, bullet-ridden clash between the various factions seems imminent. As the smoke clears and the chaos subsides Donna Hamilton solemny philosophizes that her “work here is done.” Prophetic words, indeed.

A changing of the guards was on the horizon and with the late great Julie Strain the series was given a second lease on life. Strain was a Penthouse Pet (June, 1991), Pet of the Year (1993), muse of Spanish fantasy illustrator Luis Royo, and she who should have been Vampirella. Strain was no stranger to action with roles in Hollywood actioners as Out For Justice (1991) (with Steven Seagal) and Double Impact (1991) (with Jean-Claude Van Damme) next to bit parts in Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994) and Beverly Hills Cop III (1994). As Speir retired from the series Strain became the new mascot easily eclipsing her equally well-endowed co-stars Shae Marks and Julie K. Smith. The new cast never really gelled and there was no real chemistry between Strain and Marks the way there was between either Speir-Carlton or Speir-Vasquez. It was never for a lack of trying on Julie’s part. She took these roles perhaps far more serious than they deserved.

The only real new face (or body, rather) is Sandra Wild. Wild appeared in Playboy several times over the years, most notably in August 1991 as part of the “California Dreamin’” article. In a rare exception to Sidaris casting traditions Sandra apparently never made it to Playmate but appeared in multiple of their home videos. She also starred in the 1990 Michael Bay directed music video for ‘Up All Night’ from Slaughter. Wild amassed a respectable amount of (mostly uncredited) decorative roles in popular television series as Married with Children (1989), Full House (1989), Columbo (1990), Star Trek: The Next Generation (1990), Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1994), and Walker, Texas Ranger (1995). Not that that translated into something resembling a real acting career. For better or worse, the casting choices here would be an omen for things to come.

Sidaris, senior and junior alike, were about to learn an important lesson: with great boobs comes great responsibility. While there never was any particular shortage of willing and able Playmates to choose from they would never quite find suitable replacements for both Dona Speir and Hope Marie Carlton or Roberta Vasquez. Christian Drew tried his darndest to find the right duo (you may interpret that any way you want) but none were really able to recreate the chemistry between the original two platinum blondes. Roberta Vasquez really made the role of Nicole Justin (who always was a thinly-veiled proxy-Taryn) her own and Strain was only second to her in becoming a pillar of the series in her own right. All of which speaks to just how iconic Dona Speir and Hope Marie Carlton were to the series and how dangerously their shadow loomed over whoever was chosen to follow in their collective footprints. For the most part the rule of thumb was that a Playmate’s bust-size was inversely proportional to her line-reading skills (Julie Strain being the exception). The original LETHAL Ladies would be resurrected for two episodes with Day of the Warrior (1996) and Return to Savage Beach (1998). No more sequels were produced by either Andy or Christian Drew after 1998. Sidaris the elder himself would pass away in 2007. In the decade-plus since nobody has risen to the task of filling that particular niche. Secretly we’re hoping either Rene Perez or Benjamin Combes will do so, but only time will tell.