As 3 Tickets to Paradise opens, AJ Parker (Michelle Manhart, Dance Fu) is about to be raped by three Mexicans before she manages to shoot them all. The next time we see her she’s in a Mexican jail. A mysterious visitor brings her a change of clothes with a taser hidden inside. Just in time too because one of the guards wants to give her his enchilada and the two guys in dark sunglasses have broken into the jail to kill her.
Back in the US and broke, she gets a visit from her ex-husband Chris (Jeffrey Bentley, Street Meets Pavement) who tells her of a friend, Jake Slaughter (Joe Bell) who needs some help. She’s familiar with Paradise, a Mexican ghost town. It seems a fortune in stolen gold coins is hidden there and he knows where. He just needs somebody to get him there without alerting everyone else who has heard of the missing gold.
3 Tickets to Paradise wants to be a modern-day Western as the three leads head south of the border to retrieve the gold. This means dodging everyone from the Mexican Army to the mercenary Felix (Martin Kove, Bring Me A Dream, VFW) and the cartels. Especially the cartel run by Pablo Estanza (Francisco Oliva, The Scalphunters) and his son Hector (Greg Grant).
This sounds like a great setup for a film, right? Plenty of opportunities for action. Some complicated relationships with the potential for double-crosses. And a fortune in gold at stake. Unfortunately, 3 Tickets to Paradise does very little with that potential.
The first hour has almost no action, and I’m still not sure who put the bomb under Bert’s (James Clarke, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory) truck, or why. I guess directors Dominic López The Grey Rabbit) and Isaac Piche (Dam California) couldn’t wait to start setting off CGI explosions.
Most of the middle of 3 Tickets to Paradise is devoted to watching AJ run around in short shorts and cut for cleavage shirts. And even that is anti-climactic as it were because we see her breasts early in the film. Which seems to be the point of casting Michelle Manhart to play her.
Manhart was the Air Force Training Instructor who was discharged for posing nude in Playboy in 2007 and she certainly didn’t get the part due to acting talent. Not that anyone in this film can act worth a damn, and the dialogue they’re given doesn’t help. The exception is Martin Kove, we know he can act, but here he just chews the scenery and hams it up.
3 Tickets to Paradise finally picks up a bit near the end. In the film’s last few minutes we get a couple of blandly staged gunfights and an abysmal chase scene involving horses, a railroad handcar, some badly rendered CGI dynamite explosions and an out of nowhere ending. All of this, I should add is “enhanced” with loads of digitally added film damage including some melted frames. That kind of shit is annoying at the best of times, in the case of 3 Tickets to Paradise, it’s pointless. You can’t look like an old grindhouse film when all of your effects are CGI.
According to the film’s website, 3 Tickets to Paradise went into post-production in November of 2013 and the film itself carries a 2016 copyright date. When a film sits on the shelf that long it’s almost never a good sign, and this is no exception. It should have been left to gather dust rather than be dug up to embarrass everyone involved with it.
Indican Pictures will release 3 Tickets to Paradise on DVD and digital on May 18th. You can check its Facebook page for more details.