Friday, November 20, 2009

Snake Eater (The Series)

Snake Eater (1989) * * *

Cast: Lorenzo Lamas, Josie Bell, Ronnie Hawkins, Ron Palillo, Robert Scott

Directed by George Erschbamer

Lorenzo Lamas stars a Cop/Marine (of the Snake Eater special forces) who  uses his special forces skills to become a Rambo like one man army to save his sister from a gang of backwoods mutant-like thugs who for no reason kill various people who cross their paths, and therefore it’s on like donkey kong. Snake Eater is what you call a guilty pleasure, it’s cheaply made, badly acted, and ridiculous and yet somewhat enjoyable in a schlocky way. Indeed Lamas actually fares better than he usually does (before and after) and while the movie’s attempt at humor is utterly lame, Erschbamer keeps the pace quick, the action (while cheaply conducted) is well staged and the villains are suitably menacing, indeed for those looking for campy action, one will find a lot to enjoy about Canada’s answer to Rambo. The best part of Snake Eater comes from the hilarious escape from sleeping bags that Lamas and Bell are tied into, in which suspense lingers on Lamas’ attempt to swing back and forth to knock out one of the bad guys, a sequence that is hilarious but no less than the fact that the main bad guy kills with bear claws.

Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster (1991) * * *

Cast: Lorenzo Lamas, Larry B. Scott, Michelle Scarabelli, Ron Palillo

In what is Lorenzo Lamas’ best movie to date, Snake Eater II finds L.L reprising his role as Soldier, a crazed one man army cop so insane he’s actually confined to a mental facility, which of course serves as to where Lamas and Scott plan their destruction on drug dealers who cut their drugs with rat poison (credibility is not a big factor here) and in doing so becoming judge, jury and executioner at the expense of mobsters who are destroyed from the inside out. Snake Eater II is not only a vast improvement over the original, it’s also one of the better entries out there in the STV market, indeed the production values are slick, the action well staged and the comedy actually quite funny. Indeed Erschbamer keeps the action frequent and Larry B. Scott of Revenge Of The Nerds fame has good chemistry with star Lorenzo Lamas, indeed the best part of the movie is the appeal of both, as they plant bombs in toilets, replace fire extinguisher with ones rigged with gas and of course a sequence in which a guy is electrocuted by a lamp and a broken fish tank. Of course the film is almost as funny as the original and the difference here is that this one tries to be funny and succeeds. Indeed, this movie holds its own against many comedies and that is something that one doesn’t expect. However what also makes Snake Eater II head and shoulders above most Canadian action films (let alone Canadian Lorenzo Lamas films) is the creativity with the premise, the movie could’ve been a one man army cop Vs drug lords but by revolving around a mental home, the best sequences of humor come from the crazies (including a hilarious arsonist and a sex crazed televangelist) as well as the way how our hero sneaks in and out of the mental facility and still has the time to have his female shrink fall from him, who then doesn’t notice that Lamas makes bombs in the very building. Snake Eater II then isn’t high on credibility stakes (why would drug dealers cut their drugs with poison, that would kill business, literally.) but it’s action packed and the film’s comedy works very well. This is a straight to video gem, and for what it’s worth the best Lorenzo Lamas movie to date.

Snake Eater III: His Law (1992)
* *

Cast: Lorenzo Lamas, Minor Mustain, Tracey Cook, Scott “Bam Bam” Bigelow

Directed by George Erschbamer

Lorenzo L returns as Soldier, who has gone from a Rambo-like one man army to Lethal Weapon-like cop who this time teams up with the “Cowboy” (Mustain) to do battle with a gang of outlaw bikers who have kidnapped a college student girl (who they infected with herpes) meanwhile there’s very little plot and little of the camp that made the first one fun, or the humor and creativity that made the second one so good. This one is more of a routine rip off of Stone Cold and while Erschbamer does craft some decent action, Snake Eater III fails to really deviate from the rip off formula, and this time without a foil in the vein of Larry B. Scott, Lamas is given a Clint Eastwood like partner that is fairly humorless and especially more disappointing is that both Mustain and Lamas lack chemistry and therefore Lamas is back in his wooden and humorless mode that renders this entry for Lamas’ most endearing die-hard fans who will enjoy the (mindless ) action.

Hawk’s Vengeance (1997) *1/2

Cast: Gary Daniels, Jayne Heitmeyer, George Chiang,Cass Magda

Gary Daniels (Also known as the poor man’s Dolph Lundgren) replaces Lorenzo Lamas as Soldier Kelly’s half brother Hawk, a bad ass kung fu marine from England who goes to the U.S to get vengeance on the bad guys that murdered his brother, While in America, Daniels pays his final respects, is bewildered by how many women were at his brother’s funeral (You never see the sister Lamas saved in part 1) and falls in love with his brother’s partner (Heitmeyer) and in the process finds a conspiracy involving Triads and bodies that are depleted of organs. Once again Hawk’s Vengeance (Snake Eater IV) is a very feeble and very boring martial arts/cop thriller that takes forever to get started and is so very predictable. In fact there is no type of energy or urgency in the battle field, indeed even when compared to the others in this series, you can see those that made the film weren’t at all having fun making this movie. Daniels is a far better actor than Lorenzo Lamas, has far more charisma and is a better martial artist, but even he can’t kick any life into this inert movie.

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