Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 2nd, 2007
Theatrical Release Dates: Canada, 1989 (Snake Eater), Canada, 1990 (Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster), Canada, 1992 (Snake Eater III: His Law)
Director: George Erschbamer (All Three Films)
Cast: Lorenzo Lamas, Josie Bell, Robert Scott, Ronnie Hawkins, Cheryl Jeans, Michele Scarabelli, Larry B. Scott, Harvey Aitken, Minor Mustain, Tracey Cook, Holly Chester, Tracey Hway
DVD released: 2000
Approximate running time: 94 minutes (Snake Eater), 92 minutes (Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster), 91 minutes (Snake Eater III: His Law)
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame (All Three Films)
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo (All Three Films)
DVD Release: Lions Gate (Canada)
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: CDN$ 6.99 (Each Film)
Lorenzo Lamas is a name that most action film aficionados instantly recognize. When the action boom of the 1980’s has since subsided and most of the best action films have been relegated to direct to video. Lamas who in the early part of his career achieved fame via the films Grease and later would go on too achieve prime time stardom in the late night soap opera Falcon Crest. In 1989 he would make his first official foray into the world of action cinema with the film Snake Eater and since making this film he has go on to become one of the few remaining action stars who continue to churn out product on a regular basis over the last seventeen years including his hugely successful television series Renegade which ran for five seasons. These three Snake Eater films are a precursor to what was just to come from Lorenzo Lamas as an actor and his next project Renegade would make him an international star.
Like many trilogies the first film is best and subsequent films in the series try to recapture the magic of the first one. While it is true that the first Snake Eater film is the best of the three. The other two are unique in their own right since they diverge if ever so slightly from the first film, but not so much as to lose focus on what makes these films and the Soldier character so much fun. Also I can’t stress this enough but these films are best watched in chronological order especially since the first film gives us all the background we need to known about why solider does what he does and the other two films barely retouch his past.
Snake Eater: Jack Kelly (Lorenzo Lamas) who also goes by the name ‘Soldier’ is a former marine who was part of their elite division of specialists known as Snake Eaters. Now retire from the military he has taken his skills into a career in law enforcement where he works as an undercover cop. Soldier is suspended one day from the force for using excessive for during a drug bust and while waiting to be reinstated he decides to go visit his parents and sister. He quickly learns that they have been murdered by a man named Junior who now has Soldier’s sister locked up in a shed where he plans on growing her to be his woman. Solider quickly gets back into the killing mode he was trained for as he sets out to free his sister and kill those responsible for murdering his parents.
This film has really excellent action set pieces in it like the way Solider captures the criminals in the opening drug bust scene and a bar brawl which occurs later on. Director George Erschbamer who would direct all three films in the trilogy shows his knack for capturing bone crushing action at its most brutal moments. The bad guys lead by junior are just dumb as dirt as they somehow are able to catch a marine and instead of doing something as simple as putting a bullet in his head they pull a Blofeld and let him get away too easily.
The main attraction of Snake Eater and without a doubt the sole reason for checking this film out is actor Lorenzo Lamas as Jack Kelly (Soldier). If you have seen anything with Lamas you know what to expect and in Snake Eater his delivers his A game and then some. The set ups and dialog in this film offers plenty of laughs. The acting may be below the standards of a Shakespearean drama and that is all right since this film and its two sequels are about having fun and not saving the world. If you don’t take these films that seriously then you are sure to enough every delirious moment of mayhem created by Lorenzo lamas and the rest of the cast.
Snake Eater II – The Drug Buster: Solider (Lorenzo Lamas) is trouble once again when he kills four drug dealers during a raid in response to a young girl he knows from the youth center dying of a drug overdose. Soldier’s lawyer gets him sent temporally away to mental facility to see if he was crazy or sane when he committed the four killings. Solider with the help of Speedboat (Larry B. Scott) sneaks out of the mental facility and continues to rid the streets of scum peddling drugs. One day Soldier is caught trying to sneak out of the mental facility and Speedboat decides to proceed with the mission on his own which only leads to even more trouble. Now in a maximum security padded cell can soldier find a way out to help save his friends life and eliminate the drug pushers once and for all?
This time around Solider gets a wisecracking sidekick named Speedboat who is portrayed by actor Larry B. Scott who most movie fans might recognize him from the film Revenge of the Nerds where he played Lamar Latrell. Surprisingly the addition of a sidekick works better then I would have thought it would and most of this is due to the solid performance from actor Larry B. Scott. Lorenzo Lamas looks more comfortable this time as he further explores the Soldier character. This performance is right in line with his from the first film and the addition to more comedic elements helps expand the character up.
George Erschbamer is pretty standard with a few moments of flash that stand out. Unlike the first Snake eater film this one spends most of its time inside and at times it feels a tad too claustrophobic. The action is taken up a notch as the death scenes are more elaborate and explosions are done on a bigger scale then the previous Snake Eater film. The plot does have many instances where it feels like a retread of the first Snake eater film, still this minor set back is not enough to ruin the rest of the film which in the end has a distinctive feel all its own which sets it apart from the other two films in the series.
Snake Eater III – His Law: Newly reinstated to the police force Solider (Lorenzo Lamas) once again finds himself in hot water when he kills a robber who is trying to rob a dinner. Suspended with nothing to do Solider is contacted by parents of a young woman who was left traumatized by a group of bikers named Hell’s Furies. Knowing that the law will never punish these men for what they have done to their daughter they hire Soldier to dish justice the only way he knows how. Along the way Solider hooks up with an ex-biker named Cowboy (Minor Mustain) who helps him take out the members of Hell’s Furies one by one.
Snake Eater III: His Law is the third and final installment to date in the Snake Eater saga. It is not as focused as it two predecessors and by this the third film that same scenario of Soldier being dismissed from the force and taking the law into his own hands in now playing itself thin. Director George Erschbamer feels like he just phoned this none in with most of the action and compositions looking uninspired.
Just like the previous film they find another sidekick for Solider and this time it is an ex biker named Cowboy who is played by actor Minor Mustain who gives a forgettable performance. To his credit Mustain really is not an actor and he spent most of his career as a stunt man. Wrestling fans look out for Bam Bam Bigelow who has a sizable role as one of the films bad guys. In his final turn as Solider Lorenzo Lamas gives a solid performance which also happens to the best part of what is a rather dreadful affair. Snake Eater III: His Law lacks the craziness and inventiveness that made the previous two films in the series so enjoyable.
All three films (Snake Eater, Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster and Snake Eater III: His Law) are all presented in a full frame aspect ratio which looks like it retains their original aspect ratios. I am not sure if any or all these films where shown theatrically and if they were then these full frame aspect ratios most definitely look like open matte’s and a 1.85:1 aspect ratio would not greatly impair any of the compositions. Colors look nicely saturated and flesh tones look healthy and accurate. Details look sharp throughout and print damage is virtually non existent. Overall these three films look good just not exceptional. Looking closely at them it looks like these transfers were sourced from a VHS master and not film.
All three films (Snake Eater, Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster and Snake Eater III: His Law) come with two audio options English and French. Both audio options are presented in a Dolby Digital Stereo. Dialog is clear and easy to understand. There are no problems with hiss, distortion or any other major sound defects. Overall all three films audio mixes are more then adequate and they really pack a punch during the action sequences.
Extras for all the films (Snake Eater, Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster and Snake Eater III: His Law) are similar in content as they all come with cast & crew bios and a brief five minute segment that pays tribute to Canadian cinema. Also included with each film is its original trailer.
All three of these films as far as I know are currently only sold separately and have only been released legitimately on DVD in Canada. These three DVD’s all come with strong audio/video presentations and they all can be acquired at a relatively cheap price. Despite the lack of any concrete extras with the films star Lorenzo Lamas these three films current DVD editions via Loins Gate Films are well worth picking up until definitive versions of these films are released on DVD.