Gorgeous, pouting policewoman Vickie Stewart (Traci Lords) goes undercover as a leather-clad hooker to entrap a couple of cocaine kingpins called Salvador (Angelo Tiffe) and Pablo (Luis A. Perez). In an explosive shootout Vickie guns down dozens of deadly henchmen but her two main targets manage to escape. Before long, Salvador and Pablo begin rising through the ranks of the city’s criminal heirarchy by brutally eliminating the competition. Meanwhile, Vickie has her hands full beating up rapists, intervening in a restaurant robbery, interrogating an imprisoned informant and coping with her haplessly horny cop boyfriend Al (Scott Patterson, who went on to star in sugary TV drama Gilmore Girls) who just can’t keep it in his pants.
Reteaming with writer-director Charles T. Kanganis, former porn queen Traci Lords continued her new career phase as a DTV action heroine. Whereas A Time to Die (1991) had Traci as a resourceful damsel in distress, Intent to Kill pulled no punches and cast her as a kind of Dirty Harriet, the proverbial loose cannon cop who shoots first, asks questions later and literally drives her superior to drink. Of course Traci was rather too glamorous to be entirely believable as a cop. Kanganis did not exactly downplay her sex goddess image either kicking off with a steamy montage wherein a lingerie-clad Vickie applies lipstick, slips a gun under her garter belt and squeezes her breasts (for no good reason) and thereafter contrived outrageous reasons for her to don increasingly provocative outfits before beating the, perhaps understandably, aroused bad guys to a bloody pulp. Nevertheless, she is surprisingly convincing and charismatic as a gun-toting badass action babe, bringing a welcome energy and intensity to her scenes. It is actually quite fun to watch tiny Traci blast bad guys with a .44 handgun twice her size or beat up a gang of rapists. Okay, it ain’t exactly subtle but the film does have a pleasing feminist subtext as Vickie steps in to defend Maria (Sabrina Ferrand), a poor working class Latina rape victim whose pleas are ignored by sexist cops.
Despite a meandering narrative this is livelier and better paced than its predecessor with a flashy MTV style that is fairly striking. Kanganis and cinematographer Ken Blakey work wonders with a low budget and the result ranks among the best looking B-movies of the Nineties. Like Lords’ previous action outing this boasts a glossy neon-lit look and skillful action sequences but amps up the spectacular car stunts and cod-John Woo slow-motion shootouts. Kanganis also has a knack for idiosyncratic plots. Intent to Kill somehow melds maverick cop action with strangely earnest chick flick drama. Vickie is torn between waging a one-woman war on crime and problems with wayward lover Al whose roving eye leads him to flirt with the bikini babe next door along with every other glamorous woman that breezes through the movie. After catching Al in bed with another woman, Vickie moves in with Maria and is courted by muscular kick-boxing cop Tom (Michael M. Foley). Despite training scenes that drag on forever, Tom proves a hilariously ineffectual love interest. When armed robbers gatecrash their first date, it is Vicky who blows them away while Tom just stands there (“Hey, I didn’t bring my gun, okay? I thought we were just going to dinner!”).
As was the case with many more mainstream action movies made around this time the posturing Hispanic gangsters are ridiculously cartoonish graduates from the Tony Montana school of coke-fuelled over-emoting. Meanwhile Yaphet Kotto usurps Richard Roundtree in the stock role of hot-tempered African-American police chief. His combustible confrontations with Traci Lords are oddly reminiscent of a high school principal scolding a delinquent cheerleader although their paternal relationship is fairly engaging.