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Return to Savage Beach
Also known as L.E.T.H.A.L. Ladies: Return To Savage Beach, this 1998 film from the late, great Andy Sidaris once again catches up with the members of L.E.T.H.A.L. (Legion to Enforce Total Harmony And Law), an elite group of undercover agents who spend their days pretending to run a radio station known as KSXY. In reality, however, they're fighting the forces of evil day in, day out. Made up of Willow Black (Julie Strain), Cobra (Julie K. Smith) and Tiger (Shae Marks), the L.E.T.H.A.L. ladies soon find themselves tasked with tracking down a floppy disk (remember those?) that contains information that will lead to the whereabouts of a fortune in missing gold.
Unfortunately for them, Rodrigo Martinez (Rodrigo Obregon again, he shows up in quite a few of Sidaris' epics) and his lady friend Sofia (Carrie Westscott) have got their minds set on finding that very same disk as they, too, would like to get their mitts on the treasure. Of course, it all leads to plenty of shootouts, explosions, and nudity as both sides race against time and each other to get there first and take home the prize.
The tagline for this one reads "The BIG GUNS are back!"… (subtlety not being a strong point in Sidaris' filmography).
Sure the movie follows more or less the same plot as most of ol' Andy's other cinematic trash masterpieces (good guys and girls fight bad guys and girls to get to treasure and lots of people get naked and/or die and/or explode) but it's a whole lot of fun especially when the ninjas show up. Other elements add to the fun, and there's plenty of dialogue like when one of the guys claims he was ‘born for water sports' (which is really funny when taken out of context, and given Sidaris' sense of humor that would have been completely intentional). If this isn't a film that's even trying to be all that unique in terms of storytelling, it doesn't matter when the clichés are as over the top and entertaining as they are when delivered by Andy and his team.
As to the cast? Julie Strain is definitely a highlight here, she's got great screen presence and all the confidence in the world, making her a great choice to top bill a picture like this. Carrie Westscott and Julie K. Smith are also both quite alluring and decent in their roles. Rodrigo Obregon, an old-hat at Sidaris' style and a man who clearly knew just what his director wanted out of him, is also a blast to watch here. Interestingly enough, World Championship Wrestling mainstay Marcus Bagwell shows up here, playing The Warrior and Kevin Eastman, the co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, also shows up in the picture. Gerald Okamura also pops up here.
Highlights? We get a hot blonde on roller blades, an ultra-violent sea-doo battle the likes of which you've never seen before, a ridiculous bad guy who wears an even more ridiculous Phantom of the Opera mask and a scene in which one of the actresses tries to insert the floppy disk into the computer upside down. Throw in some strippers, make the Phantom of the Opera guy dress up like Zorro and then get it on with a hot chick for a scene, blow stuff up and then blow some more stuff up, and bingo, you're placed firmly in Sidaris country and, should you be the type to appreciate the man's very specific brand of cinematic junk food, will likely be grinning ear to ear.
Return To Savage Beach arrives on a 50GB Blu-ray disc framed at 1.85.1 widescreen in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer taken from a new 4k restoration provided by AGFA and it looks really nice. The feature takes up just under 29GBs of space on the disc. Colors are nice and black levels are also strong. The greens of the Hawaiian scenes look particularly lush. The film's many, many skin tones look nice and natural. There are no noticeable issues with any edge enhancement or noise reduction and the disc is free of obvious compression artifacts. There isn't much in the way of print damage at all either, a few white specks now and then but unless you're looking for them for the purpose of writing an anal retentive review, you're not going to even notice them. All in all, a very solid picture.
The 24-bit DTS-HD 2.0 audio track does what it can with the limitations of the source material. Dialogue is clean and clear and properly balanced and both the score and the effects work all sound just fine. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion and optional subtitles are provided in English.
Aside from a quick minute-long introduction with Sidaris and a periodically topless Julie Strain (who appears in most of the intros on Sidaris' releases whether she had anything to do with the movie in question or not), the main extra on the disc is an audio commentary courtesy of Andy and Arlene Sidaris. It's a pretty scene-specific track that covers how and why the opening theme song came to be, how and why Kevin Eastman wound up in the movie, how the film incorporates ‘sexy astrology clues,' the casting of different Playmates in the film, the stunts in the film, the locations that were used for the feature, working with the different cast and crew members on the feature, staging the different explosions in the picture, using a submarine in the movie and the underwater photography that was required and completed in one afternoon and plenty more. There's no dead air here at all and it makes for a really interesting, and sometimes very funny, listen.
Additionally, the disc includes a making of featurette with Andy that runs forty-two-minutes. With Sidaris Joined once again by Julie Strain (who at one point licks a VHS tape), there is a lot of time coded behind the scenes and test footage in here, showing off some butterfly knife action, the ninjas doing their thing, some of the fight scenes being put together, a bunch of people running around in the brush, a guy catching a snake on the beach, more fight scenes being staged, a love scene being shot, Andy directing the cast and crew and quite a bit more. It is all fairly random but interesting enough to watch if you get a kick out of Sidaris' style.
Rounding out the extras are trailers for a host of Malibu Bay productions like Malibu Express, Hard Ticket To Hawaii, Do Or Die, Savage Beach, Guns, Do Or Die, Hard Hunted, Fit To Kill, Enemy Gold, The Dallas Connection, Day Of The Warrior and, of course, Return To Savage Beach. Menus and chapter selection options are also provided. All of the extras included on the disc are carried over from the older DVD releases.
A coupon inserted into the keepcase accompanying the disc allows for access to a digital HD download version of the movie.
Return To Savage Beach might not be the movie that Andy Sidaris is best remembered for but it is a fun mix of bombs, babes, action, sex and intrigue that makes for a fine exploitation movie. Mill Creek's Blu-ray looks and sounds very nice and carries over the solid extras from the old DVD release. Recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.