Andy Sidaris season! Hard Ticket To Hawaii (1987)


Relatively speaking, this is pretty well-known for a movie we’re reviewing. There’s a drinking game devoted to it, Red Letter Media have covered it, a small clip from it went viral (“Skateboard Assassin”) and it’s attracted its fair share of “famous” film reviewers having a go at it, down the years. But much like Donald Trump, I’m hoping to cultivate a rabid army of fans who are unaware that other film reviewers even exist, and will hang on my every word like gospel, so here goes anyway.


This is the first example of what I believe is many, of Andy Sidaris linking his films. The house shared by hot federal agent Donna (Dona Speir) and hot lady-in-witness-protection Taryn (Hope Marie Carlton) is covered in posters for Sidaris movies (1973’s “Stacey” and 1986’s “Malibu Express”, among others), and as the movie actually starts on the same boat, the “Malibu Express”, that the last movie ended on, they explain that Cody Abilene left “the agency” (I’m pretty sure he was just a bad PI, but whatever) to become an actor. Why he appeared in a movie based on his own life, using his own name and his own boat, are matters sadly left undealt-with. We get another link too, as Ronn Moss (“The Bold And The Beautiful”) appears as “Rowdy Abilene”, Cody’s cousin and new owner of the boat, who seems to have inherited Cody’s lack of shooting ability too.


Donna and Taryn run a small plane freight / passenger business, taking vacationing couples and boxes of stuff around the islands. Thanks to the world’s most rubbish warehouse, they’re given an extremely large and poisonous snake in a very poorly secured box; a snake who was made so deadly by “being infected by the DNA of cancer-infested rats”. Marvellous! But the weird thing is, the snake could be removed from the movie completely and it really wouldn’t make much difference – it kills a couple of goons, I suppose, and comes to a wonderfully comical end, but that’s pretty small potatoes. It’s like a MacGuffin, but one that doesn’t drive the plot in any way.


The real issue kicks off when, taking a stroll through the beautiful Hawaiian wilderness, Donna and Taryn stumble upon a huge drug deal. A ship pulls up with the extra-sleazy Romero on it, and he sends a radio-controlled helicopter into that very same wilderness with a couple of pouches of diamonds on it, to fund a ton o’ cocaine. Never mind that he’s so far away he’d never be able to see where the helicopter was, let alone successfully pilot it! So our heroines fight the goons who are there to pick up the diamonds, leave the scene with one of the bags, the other falls into the undergrowth, and there’s a group of sort-of mafia who are very upset indeed.


Introduced a little later are Rowdy, who’s also Donna’s boyfriend; and Jade (Harold Diamond, “Rambo 3”, a proper competition martial artist). I’m not entirely sure what they’re doing at the beginning of the movie, but they’re sort of hanging out by the Malibu Express, and they only come to Hawaii when summoned with news of the danger (although they seem to know plenty of people there). Even then, they don’t exactly hurry to get to the ladies, stopping off at a hotel and a few other places first. They’re spotted immediately by Romero and his people, though, and it’s this that causes the sequence of events recapped in the “skateboard assassin” video, which I take great delight in placing here for you:

While it’s by a distance the most amazing scene in the movie, there’s plenty of other great stuff. Our four friends, and the blond TV sports reporter who’s Taryn’s beau, run around the island trying to stop the drug dealers, crack amazingly weak jokes, and use weapons in ways they weren’t intended. Not only do we get a bazooka fired at a guy on a skateboard, but both swords and nunchaku are thrown as opposed to…wielded? Is that the word? Not only that, but things that aren’t weapons are turned into them, most notably the evil guard who likes playing Frisbee so much he stops his guarding and is open to taking a Frisbee covered in razor blades to the neck. He’s well-known enough to have a nickname – “Shades” – and a file with the federal agency that some of our heroes work for – well, I presume it’s a federal agency, I have no bloody idea. I felt bad for “Shades”, always having to tip his head back so the cameras weren’t shown in his mirroring.


I feel like Andy Sidaris assembled this movie out of his dreams, and whatever he had lying about. There’s a snake in it because, I reckon, one of his friends had a cheap prop snake; the skateboarding, sex-doll-holding wannabe assassin did his thing because he had a skateboard and a sex doll in his car when he came to the set that morning; there were a couple of famous college footballers in Hawaii for something entirely unrelated, so Sidaris used his sport connections to get those guys in too. It moves quickly, it’s a lot of fun and nothing makes any sense at all.


I’ve not even mentioned the main reason Andy Sidaris movies exist, and that’s to show acres of female flesh. Most wonderfully of all, Donna and Taryn, when they pick up  the bag of diamonds, wait til they’re both in the Jacuzzi before opening it, and then immediately get out of the Jacuzzi and go to a local bar, but there’s plenty of scenes like that too. The women, sadly, weren’t hired for their acting ability, but for their ability to show how weak 80s bra elastic really was. But, the thing is, everyone seems like they’re having a good time. Our women give as good as they get, kick ass without the help of the guys, and enjoy sex every bit as much as the men do. It’s a vision of a happier world, where all the guys are goofy muscleheads and all the women are well-endowed blondes. I mean, yes, the scales are tipped almost entirely one way in terms of who’s on display for the male audience, but…I can’t hate it anywhere near as much as I hate some of the cheaper, nastier films made by people like Fred Olen Ray or Jim Wynorski in later years.


Andy Sidaris sure did love lame gags, too. “She’s so dumb, she went home to study for the PAP test” is a particular gem, and there’s my favourite, when our heroes tell the half-Asian, half-English villain “it’s all over”, he replies “in a pig’s arse!” Such a brilliantly English insult. As bad as all this is, and as many groans as it elicited from my friends, at least he’s trying! When you spend as long as I have at the very bottom of the cinematic barrel, little things like this make a lot of difference.


Of course, this is a classic. If nothing I’ve said has put you off, you’re going to have a great time watching “Hard Ticket To Hawaii”. Crazy scenes, weird acting, awful jokes, beautiful locations. It’s aware of how cheesy it is without winking at the audience all the time, so you end up laughing with it, not at it. Or at least I did.


Rating: thumbs up