Malibu Express Blu-ray Review


Another ’80s T&A Romp From Andy Sidaris

Andy Sidaris, Sybil Danning and four different Playboy Playmates collide to turn Malibu Express into a straightforward and fun T&A action vehicle from the 1980s. Malibu Express has big guns, hot girls, and fast cars. Think a trashy, sexed up take on Magnum, P.I. as only b-movie filmmaker Andy Sidaris could envision. Check your brain at the door, and soak up the cheesy action and one-liners from the 1980s.

Cody Abilene (Darby Hinton) is a Texas playboy who lives on a yacht and has women hanging all over him in Malibu. The ladies’ man is also a top-notch private investigator in the mold of Magnum, P.I. It’s hard not overstating how much of an influence the hit show must have been for filmmaker Andy Sidaris when creating Malibu Express. The movie was the first in his line of sexy and cheesy b-movie thrillers produced under Malibu Bay Films. Coming out in 1985, Malibu Express came out at the height of Magnum, P.I.’s run on television during the 1980s.

The smooth Cody teams up with a mysterious Contessa Luciana (Sybil Danning) and a police officer (Lori Sutton) when investigating a murder that involves espionage, Russian thugs, blackmail, and a wealthy family. B-movie queen Sybil Danning’s role is really little more than an extended cameo, though it’s enough to give her a lengthy roll in the hay with Cody.

Actor Darby Hinton is a credible lead with enough juice to pull off Cody’s charm as a laid-back detective

If you’ve never seen a movie by filmmaker Andy Sidaris, plots are largely irrelevant and it’s typical b-movie mayhem. What he specializes in are beautiful women, and lots of them, getting seduced or seducing the men themselves. Not to mention a healthy dose of funny one-liners and silly sub-plots that become oddly endearing. Cody has a running feud with some hillbilly family over car racing in one of the movie’s funnier sub-plots.

Malibu Express isn’t great art or extraordinary filmmaking. Actor Darby Hinton is a credible lead with enough juice to pull off Cody’s charm as a laid-back detective. The movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, casting hulking bodybuilders like former Mr. Universe John Brown as a henchman. One of Cody’s girlfriends is named June Khnockers as a tongue-in-cheek joke.

Andy Sidaris as a filmmaker is mainly concerned with how attractive his cast appears in and out of clothing, while delivering a reasonably coherent movie that embraces all the tropes that dominated the 1980s. By that measure, he largely succeeds. If you ever wanted to watch an R-rated Magnum, P.I. with Playboy Playmates traipsing around, Malibu Express is your jam.

Video

Mill Creek has made Malibu Express available in HD quality for the first time anywhere on this Blu-ray. The 1.78:1 presentation supposedly comes from a “4K widescreen restoration.” That alone represents a huge improvement over the available DVDs in terms of picture quality and faithfulness. The 4K transfer sounds better in theory than practice, as the elements are soft and grain reproduction is problematic at best. Some telecine wobble is evident in the transfer, especially all throughout the first reel.

This is a serviceable Blu-ray presentation for a low-budget movie produced in 1985. The elements are in stable condition without significant degradation or debris. However, the 1080P video lacks serious high-frequency detail. Fine detail is often absent in the soft cinematography. The contrast hasn’t been boosted for more life, leading to fairly ordinary saturation and flat colors.

The completely uncut 101-minute main feature is encoded in AVC on a BD-50. Grain structure is thick and a little mushy. Coarse black levels develop occasional crushing issues in darker scenes. Shadow delineation is weak in interiors.

Audio

The 2.0 DTS-HD MA soundtrack functionally operates without making a real impact. Sound design is merely adequate with no real lapses in quality. Dialogue remains intelligible but bigger audio elements often sound weak and thin.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font.

Extras

Malibu Express feels like a movie that should have received a slipcover. Mill Creek includes one of their own digital copies for the movie, only usable on their site.

The special features all appear to date from BCI Eclipse’s older DVD edition. Nothing seems to be forgotten, so that DVD edition is now obsolete. It’s a lucid, informative commentary with Sidaris and his wife Arlene. The Andy Sidaris Film School clips provide priceless insight into how his movies were filmed and constructed behind the scenes.

Introduction By Director Andy Sidaris (01:54 in SD) – Sidaris and a topless Julie Strain help introduce the main feature, discussing the movie’s poster of all things. Definitely one of the more memorable introductions you’ll see on home video. John Brown, a former Mr. Universe, also appears.

Audio Commentary – Director Andy Sidaris and his wife Arlene, a producer on his latter films, discuss the movie. A listenable commentary packed with production memories as Sidaris delves into making the movie and his approach.

Behind The Scenes Featurette (43:38 in SD) – This is actually several different featurettes strung together, most notably Sidaris breaking down his filmmaking process for movies like Return To Savage Beach and Enemy Gold. It’s a fascinating peek into how his movies were made, from shooting each scene in different ways for television edits and other nuggets. Also featured are interviews with actors Suzi Simpson (5:43), John Brown (5:30) and Cynthia Brimhall (9:09).

Malibu Express Trailer (02:21 in HD)

Malibu Bay Trailers (All in HD) – Twelve different trailers are included for Sidaris’s line of Malibu Bay Films, including such gems as Hard Ticket To Hawaii.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Malibu Express
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  • Extras
3

Movie

Another mostly fun Andy Sidaris special from the 1980s with guns, girls and fast cars.

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4 (1 vote)

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