Review: ‘Hard Hunted’

Also with: Ava Cadell, Skip Ward, Chu Chu Malave, Richard Cansino, Carolyn Liu, Buzzy Kerbox, Mika Quintard, Brett Baxter Clark, Paul Cody, Becky Mullen.

Also with: Ava Cadell, Skip Ward, Chu Chu Malave, Richard Cansino, Carolyn Liu, Buzzy Kerbox, Mika Quintard, Brett Baxter Clark, Paul Cody, Becky Mullen.

One of the better entries in the “Malibu Express” series of action films, “Hard Hunted” is a quality mix of stunts and T&A. Opening in Arizona where it was partially filmed, picture should score in the pay-cable and video markets.

Filmmaking team of writer-director Andy Sidaris and producer Arlene Sidaris have created a brand name with seven features concerning a team of Hawaii-based female secret agents. First of these, “Malibu Express” with Sybil Danning, has been playing almost continuously for seven years on pay-cable.

Pic benefits from return appearances by most of the actors from earlier films in the series, including Dona Speir in her sixth straight assignment. Partnered once again with Roberta Vasquez, she’s thrust into this adventure while on vacation in Arizona.

The duo become unwitting pawns in villain R.J. Moore’s quest to retrieve a jade Buddha containing a “Klystron Relay” that’s used in atomic bombs, stolen from a Chinese lab.

The federal team supporting the women is summoned to Hawaii to battle Moore, but film ends in a stand-off with protagonists to settle the score in the next film in the series, “Fit to Kill.”

Though there is some campy dialogue and the trademarked Sidaris gratuitous nude scenes featuring very lovely models, “Hard Hunted” develops a more serious tone than its predecessors.

Particularly engrossing is the first reel or so in which newcomer Mika Quintard teams with stunning Carolyn Liu to steal the jade Buddha in action-packed, suspenseful footage.

Other highlights include well-staged stunts involving a miniature attack helicopter manned by Moore’s chief henchman Al Leong, familiar as one of Brandon Lee’s most imposingadversaries in the current release “Rapid Fire.”

While initially used as alluring decoration, the women in Sidaris films are now quite convincing as action heroines, with both leads Speir and Vasquez solid in this department.

Roger Moore’s son R.J. Moore makes a suave villain in his U.S. feature debut, while Gregory Peck’s son Tony is also in the cast as the leader of the good guys.

Filming on numerous sites in Hawaii, Arizona and California belies the picture’s modest budget.

Hard Hunted

(Action--Color)

Production

A Malibu Bay Films release. Produced by Arlene Sidaris. Directed, written by Andy Sidaris.

Crew

Camera (Filmservice color), Mark Morris; editor, Craig Stewart; music, Richard Lyons; production design, Cher Ledwith; art direction, William Pryor; costume design, Miye Matsumoto; sound (Ultra-Stereo), Mike Hall; stunt coordinator, Christian Drew Sidaris; special effects, Eddie Surkin. Reviewed at Planet Hollywood screening room, N.Y., June 17, 1992. MPAA rating: R. Running time: 97 min.

With

Donna Hamilton ... Dona Speir Nicole Justin ... Roberta Vasquez Bruce Christian ... Bruce Penhall Kane ... R.J. Moore Lucas ... Tony Peck Edy Stark ... Cynthia Brimhall Raven ... Al Leong Pico ... Rodrigo Obregon Shane Abeline ... Michael J. Shane

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