SnakeEater II: The Drug Buster (1989)

Forever on suspension from the force, renegade cop Jack “Soldier” Kelly (Lorenzo Lamas, Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus) drops in on an urban-area gymnasium to see his pal, Speedboat (Larry B. Scott, Lamar in the Revenge of the Nerds quadrilogy), whose name is never explained and who gets nowhere near a body of water. Speedboat is coaching a group of youths preparing for some kind of step-dance competition, when all of a sudden, his sister and another kid collapse. Soldier plants the girl’s head in his crotch and calls for an ambulance. The pair ingested some drugs for a performance boost, not knowing the narcotics had been cut with rat poison.

While Speedboat’s sister lay comatose in the hospital, Soldier offers a sensitive recommendation: “I’ve got an idea! Why don’t you have your friends stop doing it like it’s popcorn?” Soldier quickly comes around and vows to take down the supplier; ergo, he becomes SnakeEater II: The Drug Buster. This time, it’s personal … and Lamas approaches being in on the joke.

Killing four drug dealers, the ever-cavalier Soldier faces going to prison, until his court-appointed attorney invokes the insanity defense and gets his client committed to a mental-health facility. There, Soldier flirts relentlessly with his psychiatrist (Michele Scarbarelli, TV’s Alien Nation) and is introduced to the residents’ favorite game: rooftop wheelchair battles. He forges a bond with a handful of fellow patients, including a human version of novelty Groucho glasses (Harvey Atkin, Meatballs), a tit-obsessed evangelist (Jack Blum, Happy Birthday to Me) and Torchy (Ron Palillo, TV’s Welcome Back, Kotter), the firebug whom Solider busted at the end of the first SnakeEater film. However, the two never acknowledge their shared history, so despite the characters being the same (and director George Erschbamer and his screenwriting team returning), SnakeEater II pretends their previous encounter never occurred.

Compared to the first movie, also released in 1989, Erschbamer (Fire Twister) considerably lightens the mood of The Drug Buster; remove the business with the girl in a coma and drug lord Franco (Al Vandecruys, Snowboard Academy) backhanding his hookers, and the action film is practically an action-comedy. Unfortunately, Erschbamer and company’s collective comic chops are even worse-honed than their combat ones. For example, as Soldier sneaks out of the “loony bin” via the overhead vents, he runs (crawls?) into a prostitute sneaking inside. And then a Domino’s Pizza deliveryman.

SnakeEater II kicks into third gear when Soldier and Speedboat don Inspector Clouseau disguises to infiltrate a French bistro prior to Franco’s arrival; while Speedboat dumps an entire flask of laxative into the marinara, Solider rigs the restaurant’s lone toilet with a MacGyver-style bomb to explode when flushed. Later, our less-than-dynamic duo take off their shirts to fill Franco’s panic room with bags of his poisoned coke, dumped through the ventilation system. (The film does not tell us if any pizza deliverers were killed as collateral damage.)

Instead of giving cups of piss to the homeless, the running gag this time is Speedboat answering yes/no questions with the rhetorical, grammar-butchering refrain of “Do shit stink?” It sure does! Would you have SnakeEater II: The Drug Buster any other way? Three years later, the series concluded with the aggressively punctuated SnakeEater III: … His Law. —Rod Lott

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