Hot Shots! Part Deux is a textbook example of not only a film franchise which died too soon, but also of a sequel which eclipses its predecessor. While the original Hot Shots! mainly focused onTop Gun as a spoof target, Part Deux targets as many movies as could possibly be shoved into the screenplay. Once again written by Pat Proft and director Jim Abrahams, Part Deux is a tragically underappreciated near-masterpiece of a film spoof which provides more comedy than what should be legal. As he did with the original Hot Shots!, director Abrahams proved once again here that he knows how to craft a hilarious, enjoyable, satisfying, successful spoof.

What the original Hot Shots! did for Top Gun, this sequel does for the Rambo movies. Since being inexplicably dumped by his girlfriend Ramada (Golino), Topper Harley (Sheen) has retreated to a monastery to contemplate the meaning of life. His life of solitude comes to an end, however, when his good friend and former superior Col. Walters (Crenna) is captured by Saddam Hussein (Haleva), and Topper is approached to lead a rescue mission. Bumbling President Benson (Bridges) is in charge of the operation…but only when he can figure out what’s happening. Along with a team of specialists, Topper parachutes into the jungles the Iraq/Iran border to save his old friend. On top of this, Ramada also returns, because, as she explains herself at one stage, she just had to be in the sequel. Of course, the plot is meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but there’s enough here to sustain forward momentum and not too much to reach the point of tedium.

Hot Shots! Part Deux is one of the last funny spoofs of its time. In the years to follow, movie-goers would be subjected to brain-meltingly terrible and obnoxiously unfunny spoofs such as Disaster Movie and Meet the Spartans, so it’s refreshing to revisit these old gems and witness a time when spoof movies were genuinely clever. Of course, Proft and Abrahams refused to stop with Rambo, as the lampooning extends to dozens of other targets – Basic InstinctLady and the TrampThe GodfatherStar Wars and even Terminator 2 are sent up as well, just to name a few. For crying out loud, in the space of 10 seconds the film manages to parody Platoon and Apocalypse Now, include a Martin Sheen cameo, and make a hilarious Wall Street reference. Not to mention, there’s an on-screen body count tally which skewers Total Recall and RoboCop. This stuff is brilliant. The spoofing sequences are of course funnier if you are familiar with the source material in some capacity, but the uninitiated should at least find hilarity in the inspired silliness of the spoofing.

As to be expected, Hot Shots! Part Deux is just a fast-paced barrage of usually hilarious gags. The film is also superior to its predecessor because it feels more complete, with more laughs, simpler plot goals, as well as a tendency to go as insanely over-the-top as possible (seriously, the original Hot Shots! looks positively restrained in comparison). The mixture of visual gags, outright spoofing and amusing one-liners ensures Part Deux is infinitely re-watchable. And, naturally, it takes multiple viewings to catch all the subtle gags. Heck, Saddam’s fridge takes a shot at about 10 American food products alone. As with the original film, the end credits also provide even more laughs. Another primary strength of Part Deux is that it’s well-constructed, and the action sequences are genuinely good. Even if you watch the movie and do not find it too amusing, there’s still a lot to enjoy here. The only flaw is that the first half-hour is not as well-paced or as hilarious as the rollicking final 50 minutes or so.

To the actor’s credit, Charlie Sheen bulked up impressively to reprise his role as Topper Harley. With his unbound hair, bulging muscles and tonnes of guns and ammo, Sheen looks eerily similar to Sylvester Stallone from his Rambo heyday in the ’80s. The role called for Sheen to mix his cocky and tough guy images and meld them into a dim-witted buffoon. Suffice it to say, Sheen succeeded tremendously. Sheen and co-star Valeria Golino were also able to wade through the proceedings with gloriously deadpan expressions; always playing the material straight no matter how outlandish the film becomes. Satire often works best when it’s intentionally modelled after terrible drama. Also in the cast is Richard Crenna, who was called upon to parody his own role from the Rambo movies and is frequently amusing as a result. Lloyd Bridges, who featured in the original film, is once again a show-stealer here as the dumb-as-rocks president. Added to these guys is the hilarious Ryan Stiles, who plays a role here that’s completely different to the character he played in the original film. Look out for Rowan Atkinson too – he has a very small role, but is nonetheless amusing.

Hot Shots! Part Deux is not high-brow humour. Rather, it’s gut-busting low-brow humour that will appeal to the part of the brain which craves stupidity. When you combine effective low-brow humour like this with hilarious spoofs of other movies and genres, it’s a winning combination. Because of it, Part Deux is a hit. Those who enjoyed the original Hot Shots! or other ’80s spoof movies will doubtlessly be entertained and amused by this follow-up. It’s dumb, random, over-the-top, silly fun – and at a hair under 85 minutes, it’s short and sweet, too. It’s definitely worth at least a rent for a beer and pizza night with friends.