Savage Beach (1989)
Cast: Dona Speir and Hope Marie Carlton are back as frequently-topless agents Donna and Taryn. Between Picasso Trigger and this one, they’ve both lost a significant amount of weight and it does not look good. This could be a mark of the the times, with the softer bodies in vogue in the mid-‘80s giving way to the more toned looks of the early ‘90s, or they both could have developed drug habits and eating disorders which were also in vogue in the early ‘90s.
John Aprea, who played Salazar a.k.a. the titular Picasso Trigger, returns as Captain Andreas.
Bruce Penhall makes his first of many appearances as Bruce Christian (he was Hondo in Picasso Trigger as well, and since I can’t for the life of me remember who the fuck Hondo was, this feels like a first appearance), a CIA agent who is blond. Yep, that’s his main character trait.
Sidaris favorite Rodrigo Obregon returns, this time playing Filipino revolutionary Martinez. He has the same Wile E. Coyote luck in this film as well.
Al Leong, who you remember as the evil Asian henchman in literally every awesome movie from the ‘80s plays Fu, an agent who… shit, I don’t even know.
And finally, we have this movie’s Abilene, Michael Shane, playing… wait for it… Shane Abilene! The movie seems bored with the whole idea of Abilenes, and Shane is only in a few scenes. And… wow. I don’t know if they found this guy in a head trauma ward, or if he’s totally fried his brain on anabolic cocaine, but his acting is truly incredible. He delivers every line like he’s reading it from a children’s book his overmatched mind can scarcely comprehend, and he hopes everyone around will explain it to him.
Playmate Quotient: Other than Speir and Carlton, Patty Duffek returns as Pattycakes, but it’s really not much more than a glorified cameo. Miss April 1986 Teri Weigel plays the hilarious Anjelica (more on her later). Weigel’s career path is a little odd, since she went from Playboy to schlock to hardcore porn. I’m not saying she made the right choice, but hey, it’s a living.
IMDB Plot Keywords: gold, bare chested male, cleavage, mini dress, no panties
IMDB User Lists Appearing On: Best of Girls With Guns Movies, My film database, My Grindhouse, DVD Collection, Films set in Hawaii
Synopsis: Sidaris movies have been marked with overly complex plots, but he kind of turned a corner with this one. The plot is relatively simple, but everyone’s motivations are murky as hell. Also, there seems to be a lot more nudity.
The plot hinges on a shipment of gold looted from the Philippines by the Japanese during World War II. A freak storm wrecked the ship carrying the gold, and it’s been assumed lost for forty years. Somehow, a bunch of people have found it, and there’s some hilariously byzantine spycraft floating around to sort of explain what’s going on. It’s probably easiest to explain by running the factions down. I’m pretty sure Sidaris was making this up on the day of shooting.
The United States government shows up in the form of Naval Officer Captain Andreas and CIA spook Bruce Christian. When they finally find the island, Andreas notes that the Japanese “picked one hell of a savage beach to crash on” and it’s awesome. There’s some needlessly complex stuff in the beginning when Christian replaces the Navy guy who’s supposed to be there, which I guess was to make us think he was evil? I don’t know. They want to get the gold back to the Philippine government…
…who is represented by Martinez. He, however, is also shady. He’s actually some kind of revolutionary, and he and his girlfriend Anjelica spend most of their scenes together indulging in a) softcore grinding and b) the kind of Communist ranting that only exists in the mind of Glenn Beck. Also, neither one of these people looks remotely filipino, leading me to believe Sidaris might not understand geography.
The Japanese government wants to return the gold, but their agents are immediately replaced with two guys (Al Leong and the wonderfully named Eric Chen) who turn out to be working for Anjelica and possibly Martinez. The best part is that Al Leong karate fights one of the real agents, played by James Lew. Lew was a Chang Sing in Big Trouble in Little China and, as you know, Leong was a Wing Kong in the same movie. If you don’t know what this means or how awesome it is, go watch Big Trouble in Little China and get back to me about how you wasted the ‘80s.
Then there’s The Warrior, this elderly feral Japanese soldier who’s been living on the island since the war. He will fucking kill your ass with a katana.
Donna and Taryn blunder into this hornet’s nest when, on a humanitarian aid mission to deliver medicine to sick kids, a storm forces them to crash land on this very island. Proving Sidaris’s commitment to all things mammary, there’s a scene where, no shit, both women take their tops off while flying an aircraft through a storm. Taryn previously had revealed a bit of her origin story that either her father or grandfather had disappeared during the war, and I’m sure that’s not going to come up or anything. Shane had also previously given them a ton of guns in a scene in which he communicated entirely in double-entendres that would have been cut from a porn movie for being too obvious.
Eventually, the various factions converge on the island. Periodically, they’re haunted by either piercing pan flute music (or randy saxophone solos during Martinez’s two upsetting sex scenes). I kept hoping that the cameraman would pan out to reveal Zamphir and Clarence Clemons trapped on the island too, but no such luck.
Anyway, there’s a huge battle over the gold. Donna and Taryn are quickly captured (by the Americans, which is just odd), but the Warrior frees them. He seems to have a connection with Taryn, and if you’re super slow and can’t work it out, don’t worry, the movie will go to a dark fucking place to explain later. Taryn blows up Martinez with an explosive arrow, Al Leong and his team are massacred, and the Warrior is killed, but not before revealing his origin story… and hoo boy. It’s like Sidaris turned the script over to Andrew Kevin Walker and was like, “hey, you wrote Se7en and 8mm, howzabout you add a scene to my titty movie!”
Three guys from the original Japanese shipwreck survived. They were chilling on the island when a lifeboat of Americans washed up onshore. Not ones to shirk their duty, the Japanese ruthlessly butchered the American soldiers. And we see it. The whole bloody mess. While he’s relentlessly stabbing a dude over and over, the Warrior looks into the soldier’s eyes (he and Taryn have the same eyes, see), and vowed “never to kill those eyes again.” He took a photograph from the guy of the guy and his wife and kid just in case he’d ever need to prove it or something. The other two Japanese guys, consumed with guilt, killed themselves, leaving the Warrior to hang out. Yeah. Sidaris basically trolled every kid jerking it to this movie and might have created one or two weird fetishes while he was at it.
Anyway, they do the wrap up, and of course Taryn has stolen some of the gold because she’s a fucking klepto.
Yakmala? Savage Beach, with its relatively serious subject matter and bizarre tonal shift, almost seems like Sidaris groping for respectability. You can’t have a lighthearted movie that essentially is only a boob vector, and then turn it into a deep meditation on the nature of guilt. On that level, it might actually qualify.