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Thunder In Paradise #14

Two-parters mean two things in Thunder-land. Longer adventures, obviously, but also the dread montages. This week, in "Deadly Lessons", we begin with one such enthralling piece. A photographer is on the beach, and he's taking pictures of...? Yes, you guessed it. Scantily-clad women. They pose this way, they pose that way, they pose every other way. Happily we are saved from this - eventually - by Spencer, who arrives to haul a hopelessly enthralled Bru away to a meeting with a man from the NSA. He's come to offer them a job - unpaid, because the NSA don't have any money - to go and kidnap an evil drug dealer from somewhere vaguely South Americany. I love his judgmental attitude here. He has to be kidnapped, because the authorities won't extradite him, as they're making money from his drug deals. Yes, because America's never made any money from South American drug barons at all. Heavens to Betsy, no. Spence and Bru agree to go work for free because Drugs Are Evil, and kids get addicted, and I think Hulk Hogan secretly wishes he was Mr T.

Before they can go, however, there is Family Stuff to be taken care of. Jessica has elected to do some extra schooling, apparently by choice, and not because of anything remedial. She starts tomorrow, which is when Spence and Bru are going to be off extracting their evil drug dealer, so they promise they'll call her to wish her luck. And then... ah yes. And then. Then is when we meet our evil friend.

I'm not quite sure what they were going for here. I mean, the plot sort of requires it later on, and I suppose it's cheaper just to use the one actor. All the same, it doesn't exactly make the action more believable. Not that I'm complaining, in this instance. In all fairness, with his sunglasses on, his hat pulled down low, and quite an extensive beard in the way, I suppose it's not that obvious - at first, anyway. Maybe. And then he speaks, and it couldn't be more obvious if it tried. Manuel Santiago, evil drug dealer extraordinaire, is blatantly obviously Bru. Bru in a beard, yes, but nonetheless, very clearly Bru. In actual fact he's Bru in a beard and a wildly OTT Spanish accent. Or, indeed, Bru in a beard and a wildly OTT Spanish accent with an evil laugh. But still, nevertheless, Bru. And it's pretty much impossible to ignore this, especially when Spence blasts into his underground lair and kidnaps him, and then the action keeps cutting back to the beardless version sitting in the boat. And up a tree, for some reason. Not sure why a tree - he just apparently takes it into his head to go and sit up one for five minutes during the extraction. But anyway.

It's a two-parter. Ah yes. This means that Spence kidnapping Bru Santiago goes on for far, far longer than it has to. They run through a river. Then they run through it again. They run through the same flock of flamingos three times, which must lead to some severely pissed off flamingos. Then, just to make extra-special use of both river and flock, the pursuing bad guys run through them as well. Then there's lots of shooting, a quick call home to Jessica to wish her luck, and a brief pause for Bru to join the fun. Sadly at this point Santiago has to turn into a stand-in, for obvious reasons, and the stand-in, despite the fact that all he has to do is walk, is painfully bad. At one point Bru thumps him, and it takes him a good five seconds to remember to say 'Ow'. They get him stowed aboard and then handed over to the authorities, anyway, but - oh no! There is trouble afoot. Santiago has a best friend named Mason Lee, who is also highly evil. Mason Lee wants his friend back, so after finding out who Spence is, he goes to Paradise with a large gang of minions, and storms the school where Jessica is taking her extra lessons. Kelly is teaching a sculpture class there, so she's also nabbed, and Mason Lee gives the boys an ultimatum. Santiago out of prison, or the girls die. As do all the rest of the teachers, the children, and indeed the school itself, as it's wired to shed loads of play dough. Or plastic explosive. One or the other.

Well golly, what are the boys to do?! Why, break into the school of course. This they do with the aid of a local girl who used to go there, who tells them of a way that she and her friends used to use to sneak out to meet boys. Since this involves aqualungs, I can only imagine that a) it was a startlingly well-equipped school, and b) they were really, really desperate to meet those boys. Once inside the school, Spence and Bru go all efficient, which for reasons that should become obvious in the screencaps, doesn't help them in the slightest. They get nabbed by Mason and his boys, who prove their evil credentials by menacing small children, threatening to shoot people, and clobbering Bru. What is it with people clobbering Bru?! Hit Spencer for a change, damn it! The boys are sent packing, with orders to get Santiago or else. Getting him is impossible, but Bru has A Plan. With the aid of a fake beard, a hat, and some dark glasses, he'll pass himself off as Santiago, whilst Spence sneaks back into the school to rescue everybody. Nothing can possibly go wrong! Except a helpful radio broadcast just as Mason Lee and 'Santiago' set off together, saying that Santiago hasn't been released. Mason Lee is Not Happy, but this is a good thing. He's played by Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa, who is a dab hand at one or two Martial Arts, and he and Chris Lemmon have a fine old time bashing each other around the place. Sadly the beard is clearly a weak point, and Bru is overpowered, just as Mason gives the order to explodify the children. Spence is already dashing to the rescue, however, and manages to get all of the children out bar Jessica, who has unfathomably chosen this moment to go and hide in the air conditioning system. The countdown helpfully pauses to allow him to get her out, and then the two of them, plus Kelly, manage to run down several corridors and out of a door in less than no seconds, before the entire building goes ka-boom. Miraculously they don't go ka-boom with it. And yea, verily all were saved.

Except Bru, who is now back among the land of the living, and being thoroughly menaced by Mason. The problem is that he's still in bits of his disguise. It's very hard to take a man seriously when he's wearing half a Manuel Santiago disguise, and although he gets a rather splendidly defiant speech at this point, it loses a fair bit of its impact due to a severe attack of Comedy Facial Hair. Still, the defiance leads to more fighting, and this time Bru wins. Hurrah! All is well again in Paradise, and with a giant explosion and lots of nice hand-to-hand fighting into the bargain. A good, well-choreographed battle between two men skilled at Martial Arts, and its better than all that endless wrestling that we usually get. Why, whoever would have thought it.

Ah well. Obligatory visual aids:

The return of The World's Greatest Oven Gloves.

Bru in a beard. Otherwise known as Manuel Santiago.

Bru up a tree. Why, I have no idea. I suppose he just liked it.

Spencer decides to kidnap his partner.

Increasingly pissed off flamingos.

Bru makes jokes about the appearance of himself in a beard.

Bru in a beard menaces a member of the NSA.

Evil Mason Lee, being evil.

Jessica's bust of her father. I think the prop department forgot that she's only ten.

Mason menaces Kelly.

A rescue team in very little clothing.

Under the sea...

... to a secret hidden pipey thing...

... and then up said pipey thing.
Just how desperate were those school girls?!

Spence checks there's nobody around by sticking a bloody great pointy thing up through a secret trapdoor.
No, nobody will notice that, Spence. Not at all.

After first sneaking onto the roof, under cover of The Magical Banisters Of Invisibility,
Spence and Bru attempt to abseil into a room full of men with guns. What could possibly go wrong?

Unsurprisingly, the bad guys open fire. Indeed they open lots of fire. Lots and lots and lots of it.

Spence and Bru, however, prove remarkably bullet-proof.
Bru even gamely attempts to shoot back, whilst falling through a hail of bullets.

Then, tragically, Spencer's bottom explodes.

Shortly after, so does Bru's head, athough it doesn't stop him from still trying to shoot back.

After having been blasted to pieces during their less than subtle entrance, Spence and Bru hide behind a crate.
By now it must be obvious even to them that this isn't going well.

They surrender to Mason, in one of those unfortunate scenes where only Bru remembers to act,
and get sent off to bring Santiago or else.

So they bring him Santiago.
Except that this time it's really Bru in a beard, as opposed to Not-Bru-In-A-Beard-Honest.

But - gasp! - he is unmasked, and prepares to do battle.

And also attempts to deliver a meaningful speech whilst looking like a refugee from
Easy Rider.

Whilst Spence rescues Kelly and Jessica from certain explodification.
Jessica is not remotely bothered by the fact that the entire world is blowing up behind her.
A career in the family business clearly awaits.

Next time, somebody wants to blow up the world. Or something a bit smaller than that. I forget.


( 3 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )
Dec. 6th, 2009 04:08 am (UTC)
Roarr!!! (I'm growling fiercely here) this was the best review yet, I had to pounce. (and they are all great!)
I LOVE this witty line..

"I think Hulk Hogan secretly wishes he was Mr T."

So, so true!
Dec. 7th, 2009 10:10 pm (UTC)
That's not a growl, that's a roar. See, I notice these things. ;)
Dec. 9th, 2009 03:34 pm (UTC)
Oh..true! This one deserved a roar! Using Bru in a beard is quite a plot device. I can feel the pain for sidekicks and partners, they are there to provide every kind of support, they are the ones who get kidnapped, stomped on, beaten down..even killed, just to make the hero look good. But in this case, Bru was so much more appealing and that's what kept me watching this series from time to time.
New blog post up-Chapter 2
( 3 fierce growls — Growl fiercely )

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