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Entries in C.I.A. II: Target Alexa [1993] (1)

Saturday
Nov272010

C.I.A. II: Target Alexa (1993) Home Video Review

Prepare to Be Amazed

I reviewed Fair Game a little over a year ago.  At the time, I considered it the height of cheesy ridiculousness; after all, how do you top ninety minutes of Trudie Styler locked in her art-nouveau house, running from a giant snake?

You cast Lorenzo Lamas as a CIA agent in a Clinton-era political thriller, that’s how.

For some reason, I rented C.I.A. II: Target Alexa thinking that there wasn’t a C.I.A. Part One.  Blame holiday madness if you want, but I genuinely believed this was a self-contained movie, like Leonard Part Six.  Lucky me, the slim continuity is all handled expertly in the sequel.  Having watched the movie and finding it so perfect in its unrelenting awfulness, I prefer to think of C.I.A. II as a unique work of art.

The story centers on agent Mark Graver (Lamas), the kind of tough-as-nails superspy who shirks not just authority but also federal dress codes; rarely is he seen without his orange-glazed biceps and hair-metal mane.  As for his methods, Graver is as likely to disarm the bad guys with his winning smile as with a roundhouse kick to the groin (okay, mostly with kicks to the groin).

A hit squad led by mustachioed international terrorist Ralph Straker (John Ryan) breaks into a government lab and steals a microchip that controls an advanced weapons guidance system.  Caught unawares, Graver is helpless to stop him (so perhaps “superspy” is a bit of a stretch).  He enlists the help of ex-flame Alexa (Kathleen Kinmont) to infiltrate the base camp of one of Straker’s associates, Franz Kluge (John Savage); Alexa agrees to help in exchange for re-gaining custody of her daughter, following a bizarre murder charge—Alexa foiled a convenience store robbery by blowing holes in the criminals, only to be fingered as the mastermind by the one thug who lived.

From here, C.I.A. II becomes a “(wo)man-on-the-inside” movie, full of double-crosses and triple-crosses—and, I’m pretty sure, a quadruple-cross by the guy who played the bike shop owner in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.  I’m sure there’s a portion of this movie’s audience that hangs on the drama of the chip possibly making it into the hands of Kluge’s North Korean dictator buddy, but the fun of this movie has nothing to do with its story.

It’s pure joy to watch every part of this movie fail.  I don’t mean that maliciously; I had a genuine blast spending ninety minutes with stiff actors, low-budget locations, bizarre characters, and the kind of action scenes where anything that gets shot at explodes into a three-story fireball and every villain who takes a bullet flies back four feet, uttering what can only be described as a mixture of disappointment and extreme constipation (there’s even a moment where a guy gets taken out via helicopter machine gun, his wounds manifesting as two perfect nipple pops).

Even watching the movie on DVD is a transcendent experience, as C.I.A. II isn’t available in widescreen; the cropped little box on my screen added to the feeling that this was an Ed-Wood-level passion project on the part of Lamas, who directed, and Kinmont, who developed the story with screenwriter Michael January.

It takes a special movie to turn competent acting into a negative, and I’m not sure whether to congratulate Kathleen Kinmont on a performance that alternates between heartfelt and hokey, or to praise Lamas for keeping her in the movie, when all that does is highlight the amateurs around her—including him.  John Savage is another one who doesn’t belong here; not that he does a memorable or even passable job, but you can tell he’s a solid actor who knows what he’s doing—and that what he’s doing is crap.  Study Savage’s face in his scenes with Lamas and you may just catch the look (either amused or resigned) that says, “My experiment to see how far I can fall from The Deer Hunter has finally paid off!”

Though I’m ripping this movie apart, please understand that I truly love it.  The sheer earnestness alone makes it worth watching.  C.I.A. II was sandwiched in between the Naked Gun series and the Austin Powers films, and it’s the truest example of what those films parodied than their intended targets (only UHF comes closer with its Rambo sequence).  In a way, this film might be considered the third cousin, twice removed, of The Expendables—a huge plus in my book.

So, yes, please seek out the hilarious C.I.A. II: Target Alexa at your earliest convenience.  If you and your friends are looking for a true out-of-body experience and are too poor to buy drugs, I suggest putting this on right after Fair Game.  Put some newspaper down, though, ‘cause someone’s going to shit themselves.

Note:  Is this a sign of the End Times?  I went to Amazon.com to buy C.I.A. II on DVD (I put my money where my mouth is, kids), and was met with an excited red message, “Hurry!  Only 3 left in stock!”

Why is there a run on this movie?

Who are these people?