Saturday, February 8, 2014

This Bud's for You: DETECTIVE EXTRALARGE: MOVING TARGET (1992)

Okay, so far Jack Costello has tackled corrupt politicians and a serial killer in Miami.  But who hasn’t dealt with those kinds of folks when visiting the Sunshine State?  It is time to go global as “Extralarge” and his buddy Dumas take on foreign terrorists on American soil.  Of course, you’d never know that with the way this entry starts off. Were you the guy watching “Miami Vice” and always saying, “Damn, I wish I could see Philip Michael Thomas in drag.”  If so, your prayers have been answered as this episode opens with Thomas sporting a wig while decked out in heels, a skirt and a silk blouse. Yep, Costello has recruited him to help nab a park rapist, who not only looks suspiciously like Woody Allen, but he strikes in broad daylight.

While Jack carts his capture off to the precinct, Dumas heads back to the office in full drag. Dumas heads inside and Maria Martinez (Vivian Ruiz), Jack’s landlady and wannabe paramour, tells him that a prospective client is waiting for Jack in his office.  The client in question turns out to be Hella von Herman (Ursula Karven), who Dumas finds very attractive.  In California speak: Hella is hella hot. Hey, don’t boo me.  Anyway, she wants to hire Jack to the tune of $1,000 to pick up her father Klaus von Herman, a nuclear physicist, at the airport and escort him safely to his hotel.  Sensing an easy way to a big payday, Dumas opts to do the job himself and leaves Jack a note to meet him at the hotel later. Of course, Dumas is a dumbass and doesn’t notice the two sets of guys – two CIA guys and two terrorist looking guys – tailing him when he meets up with the Professor at the airport.

Dumas completes his task and Costello arrives at the hotel just seconds after the terrorist looking duo fills Klaus full of holes.  Comforting the dying man, Costello doesn’t see him slip a small container into his extra large pocket before two guys quickly throw the wounded man into a car to take him “to the hospital.”  Yeah, dude is dead meat. That evening it is confirmed as the professor is found floating facedown in the water.  Lou Bedford fills Jack in on the particulars – seems the South African born professor was working for the Libyans on a gas to help seal the ozone layer.  But an accident in the lab created a deadly nerve gas and his benefactors have a keen interest in that as well.  Jack returns home where Mrs. Martinez offers to take his bloodstained jacket to the cleaners.  Upstairs in his apartment, he finds the place torn apart and thumps two guys before meeting Rashid (Juan Fernandez), the terrorist leader who lets him know they are looking for something and they’ll cross paths again.

Meanwhile, Hella has contacted Jack and wants to meet with him.  They choose a Jai-Alai court (damn, this production is a slut as they certainly got around Miami) where she tells Jack the same info he learned from Lou, but also mentions she was her father’s assistant.  Oh, she also mentions that the terrorists “are unscrupulous.”  Well, that settles it – we can’t have dudes without scruples running around Miami.  They live up to their unscrupulous nature when they try to run Hella and Dumas over outside the arena.  A car chase ensues where Jack ends up capturing one of the bad guys and turning him over to Lt. Bedford.  Our private dicks decide the best course of action is for Hella to hide out at Dumas’ place.  Apparently they don’t remember what happened to Lela Rochon two episodes ago when she hid out at his place and once again Dumas and the female lead are kidnapped.  How does everyone keep finding out where his houseboat is?  Jack saves Dumas at a dog race track, but the terrorists keep the girl to finalize her father’s formula.  Their dastardly plan is to synthesize the nerve gas and release it into the crowd at St. Marks church, where one of their operatives is posing as a priest while setting up a huge fundraiser to draw a crowd.  Only problem is they don’t have the formula since it is currently at the dry cleaners in Jack’s extra large coat.  So now Jack is in their crosshairs.  Or, as the CIA guy on the case says, “Mr. Costello, you’ve turned into a moving target” followed by a piano sting.

It seems like director Enzo Castellari took the “moving” part of this entry’s title literally as this is the most action packed episode so far.  It feels like ten minutes can’t go by without a shootout or a car chase.  And it is all captured well with some of that beautiful slo-mo that Castellari is known for on display (unfortunately, this also hurts as you can clearly see the Professor being shot ain’t the old actor playing him).  There are also some genuinely surprising moments where our heroes are in peril, like when Costello is gunned down inside the dry cleaners.  With so many plot twists and turns, this could be a stand alone movie with just a little more exposition in character department.  Hell, this feels like a latter day Cannon flick at times.  Especially when the washed up American actor guest starring this week is ‘80s baddie Juan Fernandez, fresh off CROCODILE DUNDEE II (1988) and KINJITE: FORBIDDEN SUBJECTS (1989).


The film does have a downside though and it can be spelled out in three short words – Phillip Michael Thomas.  I don’t know what happened on this one, but the dude is totally out of control in this episode.  He is so over-the-top that not only do we get him in drag, but there is a scene later where he breaks into a Nazi goosestep.  WTF?  He seems to think this episode is an audition reel and does about 45 different accents as well.  In one of the more surreal bits in the show, he stops to buy some apples being sold by a Michael Jackson impersonator (Darrin Sutton, still moonwalkin’ today) and we get the following bizarre exchange.

Dumas: “Hey, Michael, how much to gangbang one of your apples?”
Michael Jackson: “A dollar a pound.”


Whew!  I think all those years of being the second banana on “Miami Vice” may have finally exploded in this episode. Thankfully, the film moves fast enough that you won’t be left stewing in “what was he thinking” thoughts.  That happens afterward, when you are writing a blog review.  Maybe even the filmmakers grew tired of his antics as there is a scene where Jack pulls some tape off of Dumas’ mouth, only to put it back on due to his incessant babbling.  There are also some questionable “comedy” bits based on the laziest comedy stereotypes imaginable.  For example, when Dumas comes home in drag, you get a gay couple ogling him. Or how about Mrs. Martinez saying Jack’s jacket is at “honorable Chinese dry queen-ah” while slanting her eyes?  Would I be a hypocrite if I did a clichéd Italian guy voice going, “Issa funny becausea issa true.” How you like that Luigi…uh, I mean, Enzo?


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