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.