Three Kinds of Heat (1987)

Back to the fare of the studio which served as the partial dubious inspiration for the name of KT CANNON’s title character!

Robert Ginty, best known as the titular protagonist of the short-lived Exterminator franchise, plays Elliott Cromwell, a secret agent who teams up with two female accomplices—a New York policewoman (Victoria Barrett) and a Hong Kong detective (Shakti Chen, oddly billed as a mononym)—to track down the leader of the Black Lion crime syndicate.

Perhaps surprisingly, this film isn’t as steamy as its title, premise, and two-girls-and-a-guy main cast implies. It also has very little in the way of developing any reasonable level of chemistry between its leads, though I imagine that character development wasn’t exactly something the filmmakers imagined that their target audiences wanted in this kind of flick, and the lack thereof was par for the course when it came to Cannon at the height of their infamy. Not only considering that this came out the same year as the underdone Superman IV and the more-enjoyable-than-it-should-have-been Masters of the Universe, it also shares too much resemblance with a lot of other spark-and-pyrotechnic-filled action B-movies that Cannon was a particular factory for during this period…though in this case, there are a lot of actual fireworks in the final battle scene as well.

With respect to the on-screen performances, Ginty holds his own in the lead as is very likely expected, while Shakti manages to be the only relatively action-worthy of his two companions despite her dialogue almost entirely comprising rather annoying if not stereotypical broken English. Barrett, on the other hand, is largely forgettable even as she’s somehow made into a hamfisted love interest for Ginty’s character. The only other role of particular note in this cast is the main antagonist, portrayed by none other than Doctor Who‘s then-newly-minted Seventh (and final original series) Doctor, Sylvester McCoy—though even he fails to steal the show much of the time, perhaps making one wonder if he’d rather be back in the TARDIS instead.

Three Kinds of Heat was written and directed by Leslie Stevens, best known as the creator of The Outer Limits, though this is one of many non-science fiction screenplays he’s written (such as an unnecessary Blue Lagoon sequel, a failed attempt at a film based on jungle heroine Sheena, and a plotline about a talking pig which Babe executed in much better fashion less than a year later) that are—perhaps rightfully—forgotten about. It was also not his first time working with Cannon, as he had previously submitted a treatment for a potential Cannon-produced Spider-Man film based on a misconception of the character that would not be out of place as an episode of his aforementioned TV series. I know the old adage of “write what you know” doesn’t apply to everyone and I, personally, have been trying to expand my own creative horizons in ways which still often require copious research, but if this particular case is any indication, Stevens probably should have stuck to sci-fi.