Sidaris' films, which he writes and directs, follow a simple formula. Sidaris casts a bunch of well-endowed women and muscle-bound guys, and then places them in what is allegedly a world of action and intrigue. The main thing that sets Sidaris' films apart is that he casts former Playboy Playmates, although his more recent pictures have featured former Penthouse Pets as well. The law of diminishing returns is in operation there, we guess.
The back of the video box for Picasso Trigger boasts that the film features seven Playboy Playmates. This is true. As a matter of fact, the seven Playboy Playmates account for every prominent woman in the film. For the record, the former Playmates in Picasso Trigger are Dona Speir (March 1984), Hope Marie Carlton (July 1985), Roberta Vasquez (November 1984), Cynthia Brimhall (October 1985), Kym Malin (May 1982), Patty Duffek (May 1984), and Liv Lindeland (January 1971). Chances are, this is the only information that is important to most people renting this film.
In any case, the ladies' boat is blown up by a remote-controlled model airplane packed with explosives. It turns out that a bad guy, named Miguel Ortiz, is wiping out Agency operatives because he blames the Agency's boss for the death of his brother. The Agency responds by assigning a bunch of its employees to an operation about which we know nothing, other than the fact it starts at precisely noon on Sunday. The agents are all big-breasted women and big-muscled men, none of whom own a single outfit that covers an entire torso.
The human interest (using both terms loosely) in the movie is provided by agents Travis (Steve Bond) and Pantera (Roberta Vasquez), who knew each other in high school and decide to rekindle their romance. Amazingly, the stupendously-endowed Vasquez never gets naked in this film. This is akin to casting Harrison Ford in a movie as a mute with a bag over his head.
There is nudity, of course, but all of it is rather brief and strangely coy. All of the flesh-baring occurs in interludes unconnected to the main action, which is a rather bizarre decision for the filmmakers to make. If we're going to see an exploitation movie with nudity and violence, we would like them at the same time, thank you very much. The model here should be movies like Angel of Destruction, starring Maria Ford. That one has a great sequence where a topless Ford beats a bunch of guys to death with her martial arts, uh, skills. It also contained a scene where she is forced to do strip routine in a club or else the bad guy will.... Frankly, we forget what the bad guy was going to do. But Ford did strip! It's a pity to say that any filmmaker could learn from Angel of Destruction, but in Sidaris' case, it's true.
The poorly-made props might have been forgivable had the expensive chase scenes been any good. Nope, he fails in that too. The most grotesque example is the boat chase down a convenient river, during which Pantera actually manages to "take a shortcut" and out-maneuver two speedboats in a flat-bottomed barge. Sure, she then whips out a pretty cool quick-assemble rifle and blows someone away with it, but c'mon -- a barge? Taking a shortcut? Down a river?
Speaking of props, there is a scene where the agents get some supposedly cool gadgets from "the Professor." One of these is a packet of explosives that attaches to a boomerang. Why this is any better than a normal grenade is never made clear, since Dona (or maybe it was Taryn, we couldn't keep track) throws it in a straight line at a target a few yards from her. Next we have the explosive remote control car that Taryn (or was it Dona?) uses to blow up the bad guys' house in the film's climax. Two observations. If that surfboard hadn't been sitting just so on the porch, the car would have been useless. And if they wanted to blow apart a house from far away, wouldn't a bazooka have been simpler?
Wait, it gets better. It turns out Travis does have a pistol stuffed into his jeans. You big dummy! Just whip it out and shoot the guy! By this point, it becomes obvious that the mysterious operation the agents were trying to pull off is just to kill everybody in this house. Why not call in an air strike, forgoing all the women and crutches and hovercrafts and dirtbikes and remote control vehicles? It would have been less expensive and less risky to just go Apocolypse Now on the house.
If Picasso Trigger were funny, it could be a parody. If it had better action scenes, it could be a James Bond rip-off. If it had more nudity, it could be soft core. As it stands, it's a gutless piece of non-entertainment without enough direction to be any one of those things. Early in Picasso Trigger, the grammatically-challenged Travis tells us that "Living good is the best revenge." Sidaris' revenge is double-edged: not only is he living well, he's making movies like this in the process.
Review date: 3/9/99
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