If you condensed all the wonderful, beachy cheesiness of Magnum, P.I. and mixed it with all the unnecessary amount of skin shown on Silk Stalkings‘ eight seasons, you’d still wouldn’t have half of what Tres lancheros muy picudos (Three very clever boatmen) brings to the screen. This 1989 film by Mexican writer, producer and director Adolfo Martínes Solares relies heavily on nonsensical humor and plenty of skin to tell a story that, albeit a bit cliched, still manages to entertain.


Mexico, 1989, Adolfo Martínez Solares

In Tres lancheros muy picudos, friends Armando, Roberto and Tun Tun make a living piloting boats off the coast of Acapulco. They like to have fun and the job is easy, making it the perfect gig for a trio that enjoys constantly trying to hook up with women and are a tad short of the brain department. However, their bliss is shattered when they find themselves in deep trouble with the mob. Their friend Rosario went to the airport to pick up a suitcase for them, but a slight error made her end up with a duffel bag full of money that belongs to some drug dealers. To make matters worse, the three friends manage to lose the cash and have no choice but to run for their lives. Armando, Roberto and Tun Tun, set out for Mexico City and start doing whatever they can to make a living while hiding from the mob. When the bad guys find them, the trio thinks about getting help from the police, but quickly learn that they’ve been living with some hookers. As with every lowbrow Mexploitation comedy, the three amigos make it out alive and quickly make their way back to their beloved beach.

Martínez Solares is known for his low budget “sexy comedies.” They tend to be all more or less the same, but this time around, it seems like he was ready to enter a new decade swinging via pushing some buttons. While the film is more or less what you would expect from 1980’s Mexploitation, the director apparently wanted to push the envelope a tad more than on previous films. A scene where Roberto is having sex with a woman from behind might have appeared in any of Martínez Solares’ previous films, but here it happens while a young kid watches through the window telling him to give it to her good and hard. Likewise, a scene where a dwarf is shown being forced to dance wouldn’t be out of place in any other Mexploitation comedy, but this time around, the forceful, uncomfortable dancing happens with another dwarf who’s dressed as a sailor and inside a gay club. I could go on and on, but I’m sure you already know what I’m trying to say.

Despite the elements mentioned above, there are three things that make Tres lancheros muy picudos a latsploitation gem. The first is that it’s one of the first movies in which the mobsters more or less look like their US counterparts. The hats, dark glasses, and cheap suits of late 1980s Florida cocaine runners are in full display here, and they’re a fun thing to look at. Second, although full frontal nudity was not new in Mexploitation cinema, it certainly wasn’t commonplace. In this film, however, there is plenty of that and it’s clearly displayed, not hidden by shadows like they did on other movies. Last but not least, penis size is an ongoing joke that, although it gets a little old toward the end of the film, oddly takes the emphasis away from the array of naked ladies and places it on the males and their shortcomings even if only in a skewed, roundabout way.

If you’ve ever wondered how a bad comedy based on all the Magnun, P.I imagery and Florida drug lord cliches would look if slathered with spicy humor and filtered through the lens of a Mexploitation director, definitely check this one out.