In 1993, Lorenzo Lamas premiered "CIA II: Target Alexa" - a redundant but ultimately inoffensive follow-up to a low-profile flick he and his then-wife Kathleen Kinmont had done in-between episodes of Renegade, made notable only for the fact that it was also Lamas' directorial debut. While not a bad movie, it lacks the desired auteurship, meaning you can't tell it wasn't directed by any number of non-notable filmmakers. Lamas fan will probably want to pick it up for the sake of novelty, but I'm not sure anyone else would be interested.
The story: when a dangerous terrorist (John St. Ryan, American Cyborg: Steel Warrior) acquires a microchip with nuclear capabilities, the CIA's Mark Graver (Lamas) will need to re-recruit the crafty operative Alexa (Kinmont) for one last mission.
I know it's an unfair comparison, but while watching the flick, I weighed it against the first-time directorial outings of other action heroes, like Seagal's On Deadly Ground and Van Damme's The Quest. At first glance, the Lamas outing is decisively the cheapest: director Lorenzo obviously had the smallest budget to work with, and the limitations show in comparison, since both of those other two spared no aesthetic or geographic expense en-route to becoming flops. Additionally, it really doesn't seem like Lamas did anything out of the ordinary for his auteur debut: while Van Damme remade Bloodsport on an "epic" scale and Seagal stuffed about every single one of his spiritual and political ideas into his environmentalist flick, Lorenzo seems to be either following a cut & paste pattern or being told what to do, since "Target Alexa" is bog standard, feeling like your basic early-90s action schlock on most accounts. The one unexpected and refreshing thing Lamas does different in his picture is not glorify himself: whether this was his decision or just the script talking, Lamas almost feels like a bit player in his own movie, compared to how Steven and Jean-Claude tooted their own horns in their films.
Kathleen Kinmont is definitely the star here - something I have mixed feelings about. Her acting's not bad, but when it comes to the action content, she's no Cynthia Rothrock. Many of her moves look professional but she's lacking convincing strength. Her two fights with American Gladiator Lori Fetrick feature a couple of nice exchanges of holds, but Rothrock vs. Shepherd this ain't. In general, the action content feels too impersonal: there's a good deal of shooting and plenty of explosions, but the Kinmont/Fetrick encounters are the only one-on-one fistfights. Lamas pokes his head in from time to time to punch or kick someone, but by large, the film is missing his serviceable fight scenes.
The production is the only definite area where Lamas' inexperience as a filmmaker stands out particularly. Nothing's really wrong, but several shots are timed poorly and the music is frequently underwhelming - not quite matching the tone of the scene. This aspect juuust manages to nudge my review down to its current rating, setting it right beneath my persona standard of action sustenance. I don't recommend "Target Alexa" but I don't particularly advise you to stay away from it. This is one of those movies that you can afford to watch on TV one night but otherwise leave be. Fans of Kathleen Kinmont might want to pick it up anyway for her considerable part, but otherwise, let it be.