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Hard Hunted
cast: Dona Speir, Roberta Vasquez, R.J. Moore, Rodrigo Obregon, and Cynthia Brimhall

writer and director: Andy Sidaris

98 minutes (R) 1992
Malibu Bay/Ventura DVD Region 0 retail

RATING: 8/10
reviewed by Rob Marshall
Ex-Playboy models playing secret agents. That's the gist of Hard Hunted, latest DVD release from action auteurs Andy and Arlene Sidaris; makers of the ultimate jiggle flicks. Kidnapping, assassination, and the potential for atomic Armageddon interrupt "another day in paradise" for glamorous spies Donna (Dona Spier) and Nicole (Roberta Vasquez, a new co-star introduced since I reviewed Hard Ticket To Hawaii), so our heroines fly into action to avenge the murder of spy girl Mika (Mika Quintard) and tackle the plot of arms dealer Kane (played by R.J. Moore, yes, Roger's son. This film also features Gregory Peck's son Tony, in a supporting role - so you get not one but two chips off the old superstar block!). There's also Ava Cadell as a sultry radio DJ at the Hawaiian HQ, guiding undercover federal teams in their efforts of recover a nuclear bomb trigger (that's a "klystron relay" to you an me...), disguised as a jade Buddha, stolen from China. Our heroes' mission (which there is no doubt they'll accept, however impossible it seems) is to get the hi-tech component back before it's sold to Iraq. What with recent real world fears of "weapons of mass destruction" in the Middle East, this minor detail marks Sidaris' ten-year-old movie out as being far ahead of its time!
   The camp yet cool one-liner puns (bumbling hitmen Wylie and Coyote provide judiciously timed comic relief) and colourful tongue-in-cheek fight scenes are industrial strength, and complement some genre-breaking characterisation regarding agents' competence, so there's a hunky macho-looking hero who just cannot shoot straight, while the blonde heroine never needs rescuing, no matter how desperate a scrape she's in. This is a lark and half, ok? It's a hoot, a jape, an escapade, and one of those simplistic adventures that really should not work at all. On the surface, Hard Hunted is chock-a-block with movie clichés, but in spite of its unashamedly obvious (upfront!) content, the narrative entertains because, unlike those often-drearily sexist 007 pictures ("Even James Bond takes time out for sex," quips one of our heroines before she beds her boss), it doesn't take itself too seriously.
   The filmmakers want to have their cake and eat it, and here they succeed yet again. They have a cast of beautiful women and handsome men (as if to say - 'we got both kinds of bodies, hard and soft'), photographed in brilliant sunshine on gorgeous holiday locations, using lots of appealing hardware - such as executive jets, light planes (piloted by our lethal ladies, of course), luxurious cruisers and speedboats, ACME hovercraft, custom-built gyrocopter, and a pretty impressive armoury of machine guns and various pistols - all standard equipment for any self-respecting spy movie. But, most importantly for a comedy-thriller like this, viewers are invited to laugh along with the actors' ersatz heroism, and off-duty hedonism, not at them.
   Babes with federal clout and the firepower required to backup such authority is quite a beguiling, fetishistic fantasy. If we must have screen heroes who wield life or death forces over criminal masterminds and sundry homicidal henchmen (here including formidably moustachioed ninja, Al Leong, the torturer from Die Hard), well, there's certainly no harm done if they look like this, right? Donna, Nicole, and the amazingly curvaceous Edy (Cynthia Brimhall) make the star trio from Charlie's Angels look like a sorry bunch of St Trinian's schoolgirl rejects.
   The DVD has full-screen picture, extras: Locations featurette, profile of Julie K. Smith, another in the series of Andy Sidaris Film School short documentaries, interviews, stills gallery, a dozen trailers, commentary track which has director Andy irreverently describing everything that we see on the screen until producer Arlene interrupts him to offer some genuinely interesting info about the making of this movie (hah-hah, they really are a married double-act!), and an video intro featuring topless Amazonian, Julie Strain.
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