The made-for-video actioner gets a lively skewering in SNAKEEATER II: THE DRUG BUSTER, a slick, well-made sequel revolving around Lorenzo Lamas as a renegade cop who is equal parts Dirty Harry, MacGyver and Charles Bronson.
Soldier Jack Kelly (Lamas), a suspended cop, takes the law into his own hands when a friend's comatose sister is hospitalized after smoking crack laced with rat poison. His first instinct is to demolish the crack house where the fatal drug was purchased. But that only results in his arrest for
multiple murders. His friend, Speedboat (Larry B. Scott), however, has another sister, a prostitute whose main client has become the drug kingpin who supplies the tainted crack. Kelly allows himself to be pled not guilty by reason of temporary insanity, although he's perfectly willing to plead
He's placed under observation at a state mental hospital, however, where the inmates are able to come and go at will through the hospital's unsecured ventilation system. Using a bag of tricks including homemade bombs and squeeze bottles of acid to melt door locks, Kelly sneaks out at night,
killing members of the kingpin's organization to provoke a war with his rival. That never quite comes about, but a fortuitous meeting between the kingpin and his business associates gives Kelly the chance to sneak out one last time and kill all the birds with a single stone.
As video no-brainers go, SNAKEEATER II is unusually well scripted, directed and acted, serving up its macho cynicism with a welcome grain of salt. It takes its anti-drug message with a murderous seriousness. However, it compensates by not taking the action genre itself too seriously, allowing it
to be enjoyed on its own meatheaded terms while serving up what viewers who need something more than multiple explosions, gunfights and female breast exposures need to hold their attention.
While the screenplay isn't exactly Oscar calibre, neither does it get caught up in pointless convoluted plot twists or talky exposition to cover up for its low budget. Its lines of action are clear, clean and uncluttered. Where it displays a degree of ingenuity is in the conception of Kelly as a
wily strategist able to make use of his wits and whatever materials he has at hand to accomplish his vigilante tasks. Much of the humor, for a change, is intentionally humorous. A routine suspense scene of Kelly sneaking out of the hospital gets turned around for laughs when he first runs into a
prostitute on her way to service one of the inmates and then a Domino's delivery man with pizza for another who has bought often enough to be entitled to free premiums on his next order.
The cast is, again surprisingly, fresh, talented and hard-working. Topliner Lamas, rather than dominating the film, manages to make a running joke out of his tight-lipped hero, who's so inscrutably low-key you keep thinking there's more to him than meets the eye, the joke, of course, being that
there isn't. The effect is to throw the spotlight on the lively supporting cast. Scott, a long underrated character actor whose credits include A HERO AIN'T NOTHING BUT A SANDWICH and REVENGE OF THE NERDS, works well with Lamas in an action comedy pairing that works on its own terms despite being
obviously derived from LETHAL WEAPON's profitable teaming of Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. Michelle Scarabelli also stands out as a likable, slightly sexy and somewhat eccentric psychiatrist who manages to have an affectionate professional relationship with patient Lamas without having to subject
herself or the viewers to the standard B-movie soft-core sexual interlude. The supporting cast ranges from capable to first-rate, down to "Welcome Back Kotter's" Ron Palillo, who gets his share of non-stereotyped laughs as a gay arsonist incarcerated with Lamas.
But the major credit probably goes to director George Erschbamer for keeping the action fast and funny while putting enough twists on the cliches throughout to keep the film engaging despite its obligatory predictability. Obscure, undistinguished titles stretching incredulously into multiple
sequels have become the rule rather than the exception in the made-for-video realm. On the evidence here, however, SNAKEEATER is a rare example of a series that makes further installments something to look forward to. (Violence, profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1991
- Rating: R
- Review: The made-for-video actioner gets a lively skewering in SNAKEEATER II: THE DRUG BUSTER, a slick, well-made sequel revolving around Lorenzo Lamas as a renegade cop who is equal parts Dirty Harry, MacGyver and Charles Bronson. Soldier Jack Kelly (Lamas), a… (more)