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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster

May 20, 2024 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Snake Eater II Image Credit: Moviestore Entertainment

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #611: Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never tried to blow up a toilet, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number six hundred and eleven, I continue looking at the Lorenzo Lamas led low budget action movie Snake Eater franchise with the action-comedy sequel Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster, which made its U.S. home video premiere in early April 1991 (Wikipedia claims that it did receive some sort of theatrical release in Canada in late January 1991).

Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster

Image Credit: Moviestore Entertainment

Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster, also known as Snake Eater’s Revenge in some international territories and directed by George Erschbamer, is a bizarre action movie. I know I said that last time with my review of the first Snake Eater movie, Snake Eater (check out that review here), but The Drug Buster is actually weirder. I mean, how did director Erschbamer, the producers, and star Lorenzo Lamas decide that The Drug Buster should be the sequel to the first Snake Eater movie? How did they all decide that, yes, what happens in the script for Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster is exactly what a sequel to Snake Eater should be, not to mention the next action movie vehicle for star Lamas? The Drug Buster, according to the Lorenzo Lamas IMDB page, is Lamas’ second career action movie, so it’s not like The Drug Buster was conceived a few years after the first movie after multiple scripts and ideas and whatnot were thrown around for the next franchise installment. The Drug Buster was made in the wake of the success of the first movie and came out fairly quickly. According to the movie’s Wikipedia page, The Drug Buster’s release was delayed a year due to some legal hooha over whether or not the Canadian tax breaks the production received were legal and proper. So, yes, technically Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster was made a year after the first one but came out two years after the first one, that’s still pretty quick for a sequel.

So Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster stars Lorenzo Lamas as Joe “Soldier” Kelly, the badass scumbum cop from the first movie, although I’m not entirely sure he’s a cop in the same “New York City” as the first movie. Kelly is on suspension again for whatever batcrap insane excessive force thing he did in between this movie and the first one. Kelly is also apparently very popular and intimately involved at the community youth center the movie begins in, where we see various high school age young people practicing dancing and jumping rope routines for some big upcoming high school dancing competition. We see Kelly interact with Speedboat (“Latrelle, Lamar? Lamar Latrelle!” hisself Larry B. Scott), a fast-talking dance instructor/youth counselor who is also, I guess, an ex-con of some sort. After trying to help several young people after they get sick/overdose on tainted cocaine, Kelly decides to go find the drug dealer that gave the kids the tainted drugs and eliminate him and his drug dealing organization.

So Kelly, still on suspension, goes into the city armed to the teeth and ready to take out a major drug dealing operation. Kelly kills several bad guys, blows some stuff up, but before he can full on kill the top guy Kelly is wounded and arrested for murder. Instead of claiming his innocence or putting up much of a legal fight, Kelly decides to plead insanity and is committed to a mental institution before trial. While in the mental hospital, Kelly strikes up a friendship with fellow inmates Sidney Glassberg (Harvey Atkin) and Torchy (the returning Ron “Horshack” Palillo, although I think this Torchy isn’t the same Torchy he played in the first movie. Kelly doesn’t recognize him, and Torchy doesn’t recognize Kelly) and a few others. This friendship is meant to help Kelly find out the ins and outs of the actual day to day of the mental hospital, as Kelly has big plans. Kelly wants to find a way to escape the mental institution and continue on his “killing every scumbag drug dealer in the city” quest. But how is he going to do it without rousing suspicion or getting himself killed or sent to prison?

So Kelly finds a way to get out of the mental institution for brief periods of time while still technically being committed (Kelly wins a game of “wheelchair joust” on the roof of the hospital against a guy named Goliath, and doing this gives Kelly the privilege of leaving the building from time to time. The one orderly seems okay with it as he knows about the game. I don’t think the orderly knows that Kelly plans on killing a bunch of drug dealers, though. Usually, a patient leaves the building to get Chinese food for dinner or something. Torchy apparently does it all of the time. There’s also an elaborate fake body double thing that they do to make it look like Kelly is still in his room when he’s actually out in the city killing bad guys). Kelly’s first order of business is killing a drug dealing pimp with a drop-down spear weapon that goes right through the poor pimp’s windshield. Kelly also hooks up with Speedboat, who is in the midst of his own revenge quest to take out the city’s drug dealers, especially the drug dealer that gave the high school kids tainted cocaine. One of the sick kids was apparently Speedboat’s sister and she’s in a coma in the hospital.

And so Kelly sneaks out of the mental hospital from time to time to investigate leads and kill bad guys alongside Speedboat, who has another sister, Lucina (Sonya Biddle), who is working undercover as the girlfriend of Salvatore Franco (Al Vandecruys), the main drug dealing mob boss in the city. And while all of that is going on, Kelly has to interact with Dr. Pierce (Michele Scarabelli), a hot babe doctor at the mental hospital that wants to treat Kelly’s “insanity” and come up with a plausible legal defense for his eventual trial. And while all of that is going on, Kelly’s boss, Lt. Broderick (Mark Brennan) and Broderick’s partner Detective Lisa Forester (Lamas’ then wife Kathleen Kinmont, making her first appearance in a Lorenzo Lamas movie), tries to keep tabs on what’s happening. Franco’s people keep getting killed. Is Kelly behind it all? How the heck is he doing it?

Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster has even less action than the first Snake Eater movie, which makes no sense to me because you’d think an action movie sequel would want to ramp up the action. Instead of action, The Drug Buster leans more on comedy, with Larry B. Scott doing a sort of “buddy cop movie sidekick” thing that really only works about half the time (Scott tries hard but his performance isn’t satisfying). And pretty much everything that happens in the mental hospital is comedic (including the wheelchair joust game). Harvey Atkin, Ron “Horshack” Palillo, along with inmates Billy Ray (Jack Blum) and Joey Garcia (Richard Jutras), are a sort of comedy team, doing and saying wacky stuff pretty much the entire movie. It’s really hard to get into this stuff because it doesn’t really gel with the serious “we have to stop the tainted drugs from killing the kids” plot. Most of the mental hospital scenes feel like the movie is just passing the time and “screwing around” instead of getting on with Kelly’s investigation and Kelly killing bad guys. Isn’t that what the movie is supposed to be about? Soldier and Speedboat killing bad guys and stopping the drug trade?

Did the producers hope to piggyback off the success of the Lethal Weapon movies, which were two deep by the time The Drug Buster came out? Maybe. The first Snake Eater was a rip off of the “one-man-army” action movie idea that had been popular at the time, so it makes a kind of sense to try to do a version of Lethal Weapon for the low budget action movie world. I mean, it sort of makes sense. In the abstract. The actual execution of the idea, though, is lame. The Drug Buster doesn’t have a good enough balance between the comedy and the action. Why isn’t there more action? And why isn’t this comedy funnier? Why does everything feel, at best, half-baked? Lamas and Scott do have chemistry, but the movie doesn’t do enough with that chemistry. If they wanted to go for a full on Lethal Weapon rip-off they should have gone ahead and done it. The bit with the goofy plumber van is funny, though. It’s too bizarre not to be funny.

The action that we do get is, at best, okay. The opening one man siege on the drug den has its moments (there are several nifty explosions). The spear through the windshield scene is probably the best action moment in the movie. There’s a funny moment where Kelly creates a toilet bomb to take out a drug dealing mobster guy (it’s the second best “action-comedy” moment in the movie because you think it’s going to go one way and it goes in a very different direction). And the final siege on Franco’s compound isn’t as exciting as it could have been. The action is slow and a bit too deliberate. There also isn’t enough gunplay. There is a pretty good hand-to-hand brawl involving the great George Buza as Rico, a super racist Franco henchman. And the big finale, where we see Kelly and Speedboat pump bag after bag of tainted cocaine into the climate control system of Franco’s mansion, is easily the weirdest and funniest sequence in the whole movie. It’s another moment where you think the movie is going to go one way and it goes in the completely opposite direction.

Now, it probably sounds like I’m trashing The Drug Buster and I’m going to say don’t see it, ignore it, it’s not worth your time. If you want to watch a full on good action movie, yes, you should avoid Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster at all costs. You will not be satisfied by it at all. But if you like weird as hell movies, you should absolutely make an effort to see Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster. The movie is just wrong on every level and it really doesn’t work, but it’s still watchable somehow. Once it starts and Kelly is put in the mental hospital you want to see what the hell is going to happen next. Will The Drug Buster ever get on with it action wise? How much more comedy are we going to get? Just how the hell is this movie going to end?

Lorenzo Lamas does a good job as Joe “Soldier” Kelly. Lamas seems more laid back here than in the first movie and doesn’t have the same killer intensity, but he’s still charismatic and interesting anyway. He handles the comedic moments he’s called on to do well enough and tries to make his moments with Scott work (Scott works just as hard and does what he can but, again, they don’t always work well together. The potential is there, but for whatever reason it just doesn’t work out the way it needs to). Lamas also does well enough in the few action moments he’s called on to do. And despite the small amount of action on display, it’s easy to see why Lamas would eventually become a reliable low budget action movie star. Lamas definitely has “it.”

Larry B. Scott does an okay job as Speedboat. You can tell throughout the movie that he’s trying his hardest to make his character work, but even his best effort really only works about half the time (it’s the script’s fault). Scott does have a few funny moments and actually gets to participate in a few action scenes. Scott can do action (he did a great job in Water Hill’s Extreme Prejudice), and it’s a shame that both he and Lamas didn’t get to do more. There should be a scene in the movie where Scott’s Speedboat shoots a bad guy in the face with the sawed off double barrel shotgun that we see him wield in the beginning of the movie. I’d also like to know if Scott came up with the “does shit stink?” line he says over and over again or if it was in the script.

Michele Scarabelli does a nice job as Dr. Pierce, Kelly’s main doctor in the mental hospital. She’s dedicated and cares about her patients and only wants what’s best for them. If only she knew and understood what the heck Kelly was really doing while in the mental hospital. I am surprised, though, that she never “gets with” Kelly at any point in the movie. Kelly keeps telling her that she has nice legs. In any other low budget action movie franchise that kind of thing would lead at least to an off screen make out session of some sort.

Harvey Atkin is funny as Sidney Glassberg, the sort of “lead” of the group of friends that Kelly hangs out with in the mental hospital. It’s like Atkin has no idea what the movie is about but he doesn’t give a flip, he’s just going to act as endearingly goofy as he can be. And it works. The same goes for Horshack hisself Ron Palillo as Torchy. Just like Atkin, it’s like Palillo has no idea what the hell The Drug Buster is about so he’s just going to say his lines and make it all look like he’s making it all up as he goes along. I would like to know if this movie’s Torchy is meant to be the same Torchy as in the first movie. Because what are the odds that there would be two guys in the same city nicknamed “Torchy” who were also arsonists? That just seems implausible, even for a movie world.

Mark Brennan and Kathleen Kinmont don’t have much to do as Lt. Broderick and Detective Lisa Forester. They pop in every so often and act as though they’re deep into a big investigation, but the reality is they’re just in the movie because in they’re in the movie. They do a fine job with what they’re tasked to do, though, so I guess that’s a good thing.

Sonya Biddle as Lucinda is the most interesting character in the movie. She’s Speedboat’s sister and she’s essentially working undercover inside Franco’s criminal organization, acting as Franco’s new girlfriend. Unfortunately, outside of a few dramatic scenes where she explains herself she doesn’t get to do much beyond look pretty and get smacked around by Franco. Why the heck doesn’t she get a scene where she kills or injures a Franco henchman with a weapon of some sort? It just makes no sense to me.

And Al Vandecruys doesn’t get to do much of anything as the crime boss Salvatore Franco beyond smacking Lucinda around and trying to talk like a movie mob guy, something he just isn’t very good at doing in this movie. You never once feel a sense of pending violence from him, and it’s hard to believe that this guy is the head of any major criminal organization (you’re more likely to believe he’s the accountant of a major criminal organization instead of the top boss). He does get to don a nice wardrobe, so there’s that.

Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster is a perpetually weird action movie sequel. It doesn’t really succeed at being a good action movie sequel or an action comedy, but that weirdness is just so weird that you can’t help but watch and marvel at how insanely wrong it all is. If you’re hoping for non-stop action and star Lorenzo Lamas kicking butt and taking names you will be disappointed. But if you can endure weird movies, Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster is something you should track down and check out. I can’t fully say you will enjoy it, but at the same time you won’t necessarily hate yourself for giving it a shot.

So, ignore Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster if you’re in the mood for a full on action extravaganza. You won’t get it. But if you’re feeling adventurous and want to watch something weird, Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster is something you should try out. And if you’re a Lorenzo Lamas completist (you know who you are), you should definitely see Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster.

So see Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster only if you have to. That’s the best advice I have.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: At least 15.

Explosions: Several, both big and small.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: young people dancing and jumping rope, public drug overdoses with attempted CPR, a total lack of understanding, an old military footlocker filled with weapons and explosives, drug dealing, Uzi attack, a brief gun battle, explosive throwing, exploding door, back stabbing, attempted court hearing, an argument over cards, talk of a computer virus, talk about drugs cut with rat poison, attempted knife attack, a wheelchair jousting game, lightning, secret travel via a mental hospital’s air ducts, spear-on-a-wire through a car windshield, rampant profanity, a fake lawyer disguise, talk about a cocaine lab, fire extinguishers, a big fire, a man on fire, multiple homemade grenades, a laxative prank, exploding bathroom, kidnapping, TV watching, a big drug meeting, blatant racism, lawn sprinklers, exploding living room, a metal door security system, bullet to the arm, bullet to the leg, flower vase to the head, electrocution via lamp, exploding room, man on fire kicked down a flight of stairs, a room that gets filled with cocaine dust, front gate smashing.

Kim Richards?: Attempted.

Gratuitous: Young people wearing Nike T-shirts, Larry B. Scott acting as a sort of dance coach, Lorenzo Lamas playing a badass scumbum cop on suspension for some reason, Larry B. Scott playing a guy named “Speedboat,” Lorenzo Lamas and Larry B. Scott attempting to administer CPR, a .45 magnum, a bald scumbag drug dealer, Lorenzo Lamas making his own explosives, Lorenzo Lamas getting stabbed in the back, Kathleen Kinmont playing a cop, a ruthless judge, Ron “Horshack” Palillo once again playing a guy named “Torchy,” a TV evangelist that was caught in a sex scandal, Lorenzo Lamas in a mental hospital, Lorenzo Lamas flicking playing cards, mental hospital inmates eating Chinese food, a guy in a wheelchair getting called a “cripple,” talk of nipples on tits, a wheelchair joust, a guy named Goliath, Lorenzo Lamas trying to sneak out of a mental hospital via the mental hospital’s air ducts, Lorenzo Lamas running into a Domino’s Pizza delivery person while making his way through the air ducts of a mental hospital, Larry B. Scott saying “cocksuckers,” a red Corvette, a bed in the wall, a funky van with a cardboard plumber on top, fire extinguishers, mob henchmen looking at pornography, George Buza playing a racist henchman, Lorenzo Lamas taking an inkblot test, Lorenzo Lamas working out in his mental hospital room, Larry B. Scott saying “do shit stink?” over and over again, Lorenzo Lamas saying “transvestite,” rampant racism, a drug dealer saying “I love this business,” Lorenzo Lamas infiltrating a criminal compound, using superglue to open a locked door, cocaine dust, Ron “Horshack” Palillo burning the question cards for Trivial Pursuit for some reason, a weird ending.

Best lines: “Soldier, I love it when you’re tough.” “They were doing coke? Yeah.” “My sister, Nicky, is in a coma.” “I got an idea, why don’t you have all your friends stop doing the shit like it’s popcorn?” “Let me tell you something about economics, man!” “Sweet, sweet sugar.” “So tell me, what you hear about these kids dying from bad drugs?” “I always figured one day Soldier would lose it.” “I’ve got news for you, Shapiro. I’m guilty.” “Excuse me, Mr. Shapiro, it’s customary to wait until a trial begins before declaring a mistrial.” “Goddamn Torchy.” “Well, I guess that makes you a stupid idiot.” “Do you think you belong in a mental institution?” “I’m gonna kill you, you bitch!” “Trevor, you’re not going to cut anything. Shut up!” “You look like the kind of guy that would appreciate a good knife.” “Hey, where did you guys get the Chinese food?” “You’re gonna like the game.” “I love tits!” “Pizza coming through!” “Lights out in five minutes, Soldier.” “You’re one screwed up individual, Speedboat, you know that?” “Hey, you’d be paranoid, too, if everyone was after ya!” “Soldier, the key word here is ‘temporary.’ Being crazy isn’t like it used to be.” “So what do you think? I think you got great legs.” “You’re a comedy store, Speedboat.” “Can you show me the restroom facilities, please?” “What is this shit, man?” “Did you put in the laxative?” “Hey, what is your problem? A hooker can take care of herself.” “Hey, scumbag, why don’t you stick that gun up your ass and blow your brains out?” “What is going on here, Franco? If I smell my own blood my people will take this goddamn place apart brick by brick!” “Shit, those guys are killing each other in there!” “You’re right. I don’t want to go in there.” “Hey! I got an idea! Let’s play pyro Monopoly. If I land on your hotel I burn it.”

Rating: If you want an action movie: 5.5/10.0 If you’re into weird movies, 7.0/10.0


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Snake Eater II: The Drug Buster

Lorenzo Lamas– Joe “Soldier” Kelly
Larry B. Scott– Speedboat
Michelle Scarabelli– Dr. Pierce
Harvey Atkin– Sidney Glassberg
Ron Palillo– Torchy
Sonya Biddle– Lucinda
Mark Brennan– Lt. Broderick
Kathleen Kinmont– Detective Lisa Forester
Al Vandecruys– Salvatore Franco
George Buza– Rico

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by George Erschbamer
Screenplay by Dan Carmoody, John Dunning, and Michael Paseornek

Distributed by Moviestore Entertainment, Cinepix Film Properties, and Paramount Home Video

Rated R for violence and language
Runtime– 93 minutes

Buy it here