Mill Creek Entertainment has released another great pair of Andy Sidaris movies from the Bullets, Bombs, and Babes Series: Do or Die and the very appropriately titled Guns. For those out there collecting the series, with these two films we are now officially at the halfway point, with 6 of the 12 films released in these deluxe Blu-ray/Digital editions. The theme running through both of these particular films, however, is this was the first time both Pat Morita and Eric Estrada played the heavy — one to great effect, and the other not so much.
First up is Guns, which was released in 1990 and is the fifth entry of the B.B.B. series and stars Erik Estrada as Juan Degas, AKA Jack of Diamonds, the villain of this entry. He’s assisted by a young Danny Trejo as his right-hand man Tong (sure, he looks Asian). The big shakeup here is the actress who played Pantera from Picasso Trigger, Roberta Vasquez, is now Donna’s new spunky brunette sidekick Nicole, with no real mention of what happened to Taryn from the previous films. But as it becomes apparent with the next entry, actors and characters are pretty interchangeable here and there; after all, this isn’t the MCU. The plot here boils down to this: after a botched assassination attempt by two drag queens on Nicole, our jacuzzi-loving L.E.T.H.A.L. ladies go rogue as they are out for revenge. They soon discover the the entire plot was simply a ruse orchestrated by gun runners who wanted to distract the women to traffic guns through Hawaii.
I am going to be honest here, this is definitely one of the rougher titles in the series. Estrada just doesn’t seem to get a foothold in his character, and overall it hurts the film. The formula Sidaris has established so far is about 25% of the film is watching the bad guy look badass and just posture and do bad guy stuff. Estrada just doesn’t feel tough, even with Trejo as his right hand man. The film does have its absurdist moments as most would expect from Sidaris, with its subplot about two bungling assassins that specialize in transistor explosives who are also unconvincing drag queens. But the strangest thing is the film’s lack of skin compared to previous entries, with Guns being one of the more restrained films in the series. Just how much this film diverged from the formula became all too apparent when watched back to back with the next film in the series.
The sixth film in the B.B.B. series is 1991’s Do or Die. This one is best known for having a clean shaven Pat Morita as the heavy, Kane, who’s out to manipulate the US stock market with his theory of “risk tolerance.” The film begins with Kane trapping our favorite L.E.T.H.A.L. agents and challenging them to a “game” that’s more a challenge. He will be sending 6 squads of assassins after them, and all they have to do is survive. But unbeknownst to them, before setting our heroines free he plants a tracking device on Donna’s watch. In this entry Eric Estrada is back, this time as the tough yet likable Richard Esteban. The baseball juggling Colonel was one year away from retirement when he is called to help Donna and Nicole survive Kane’s game. This film is much more ambitious than its predecessor, and you get a taste for that right off the bat when you have a gun battle with the girls in a jeep, with the assassins shooting at them from a helicopter. Going cross country, over land, sea, and air, with some surprisingly ambitious action set pieces, Donna and Nicole have to kill or be killed, and it’s pretty great.
Now not only does film amp up the action, but also the T&A, and the weirdness factor is at a full 11. Firstly, Pat Morita is playing so against type here as the bad guy with his requisite sex scenes, I just wasn’t ready for it. But it works surprisingly in his favor. I mean, my childhood could have gone without seeing Mr. Miyagi get a hand job, but such is the nature of the beast. Speaking of which, you get the mandatory jacuzzi scene, and six films in I still haven’t figured out why these women keep changing clothes while mid-flight. The film’s weirdness does get a bit meta given its love of model airplane work as the L.E.T.H.A.L. ladies seek refuge at a model airplane fly-off. The film also introduces a rogue’s gallery of assassins as one after another try and fail to take out their targets. Do or Die exemplifies the fact that if Sidaris sticks to his guns, the film does exactly what it needs to do, and this film was easily one of my favorites thus far.
Both films come with intros by the director previously recorded for the DVD release, insightful commentaries by Sidaris for both films, and behind the scenes footage and trailers. The transfers here are on par with the previous releases, with a great contrast and almost no DNR retaining the film grain. At this point in the series you’re either in or your out; while Guns is probably the lesser of the two, it still has its odd moment or two, but Do or Die is hands down the winner of the pair and a rock solid entry in the series.