90's Action Attack!: "C.I.A. Codename: Alexa"; A Low-Budget La Femme Nikita

"PM Entertainment showrunners Pepin & Merhi band together to deliver one of the best films in their insanely prolific catalog"

By: Jason E. (robotGEEK)

VHS scan courtesy of VHSCollector.com
Directed by: Joseph Merhi
Category: Action

PM Entertainment is my second favorite film production studio, right behind Cannon Films, and it's because of films like this La Femme Nikita ripoff/low-budget action masterpiece. Seriously, this film has it all, and I'm shocked this doesn't get more love. I'm not even really sure how I came across this one. Sure it's a PM film, but PM has well over a hundred films under their belt. Something had to make me specifically seek this one out. What that thing is I can't tell you, but I'm so glad I did. Let's dig in.

So Alexa begins with a random scene that really doesn't have any connection to the film at all, but it's a doozy of a beginning. Mark Graver (Lorenzo Lamas) arrives at a hostage situation very reminiscent of the one at city hall in Robocop. There's an army of local police on the ground as they attempt to persuade the kidnapper to give up. But really, all it takes is Graver to break protocol and decide to steal a motorcycle, drive it through the building, up the stairs and deliver some rogue justice, FBI style. While not necessarily a setup for anything that's to follow, it's sure one helluva kickass opening to a film that had me smiling from ear to ear with it's glorious cheesiness and insane nonstop action and stunts.

One of the first things I noticed during this killer opening sequence and credits were the names of Richard Pepin as the DoP, and Joseph Merhi as the director. If you don't already know, Pepin and Merhi are the head honchos of PM Entertainment and oftentimes direct some of the films themselves. While they're not all winners, when they're on fire, they both delivered some incredible action classics under their banner such as Hologram Man, Last Man Standing and T-Force being a few personal favorites and standouts. So when I saw "both" of their names listed as both the Cinematographer and the director, I just knew it would be something special visually, and I wasn't wrong. If nothing else, C.I.A. Codename: Alexa excels in the action department with some crazy-cool stunts and nonstop action that, while absurd, leave you stupidly satisfied. And honestly, isn't that the reason we watch these to begin with?

Essentially, the majority of the storyline is lifted right from Luc Besson's La Femme Nikita. Kathleen Kinmont is serviceable as the lead assassin, and Lamas is trying too hard to be cool as the FBI mentor. It's a little silly to always be wearing this over-stuff leather jacket, literally almost every second he's on screen wen he's not wearing a suit and tie. Doesn't he get hot??? But I'm just giving him a hard time because he does a fine job. Maybe he's not believable as an FBI agent with a long ponytail, perfectly trimmed stubble beard, tight jeans and a puffy leather jacket, but that's just me. While we're on the subject of casting, I must admit, it was a bit surreal seeing O.J. Simpson as one of the main characters in this; here playing another FBI agent. But he's not even the most unusual actor in here. That honor goes to Alex Cord as the main villain, who is supposed to be foreign, but I honestly couldn't tell you from where because his accent was so hilariously awful that I cherished every second he was on screen. For a good half hour I kept thinking "who the fuck is this guy?? He's terrible". And then it hit me. It's Briggs from Airwolf; the guy who gives Stringfellow and Santini their jobs who sports a white suit and eye patch. Holy shit! So he's American, trying to do an awful accent, but his delivery is so bizarre that you just assume he's just an awful actor, which he very well isn't. It's just crazy. But hey, in doing so he certainly makes it memorable.

I really can't recommend this one enough. If you love low-budget action cheese that's made remarkably well, this is for you. The action sequences alone will blow your mind. One sequence in particular sticks out, and I loved it so much I shared it on all my social media. A guy, after being surrounded by an army of armed cops, jumps out of the back of a van and begins firing on the cops. Naturally they return fire, causing the van to explode, and then he's immediately engulfed in flames. He keeps shooting and so the cops keep shooting while he's still on fire, which causes another explosion. Of course it's in slow-mo, and with both Pepin and Merhi behind the camera, you can guarantee the shot setups are killer, and they are. It's crazy and awesome! While none of the other action can match the beauty of that one sequence, fret not; there's plenty and it's virtually a barrage of nonstop shootouts, fights and crashes. If you're looking for a PM film that delivers, look no further.

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