How is Hired To Kill an actual thing that exists? Getting the Blu-ray from Arrow Video solely on the basis of the press release describing the film’s co-star Oliver Reed “chewing up the scenery behind an elaborate moustache,” I did not recall any of the plot details when I popped in the disc. So it was with much disbelief and amusement that I watched 90 minutes of something so outrageous that it felt like a parody but was shockingly, not intended as such. If Astron-6 ever gets around to doing for action films what they did for Giallos with The Editor, the result would be akin to Hired To Kill.
Brian Thompson, who had a blink and you’ll miss it role in The Terminator as well as another one in Cobra (but who’ll always be “the Bounty Hunter” from The X-Files to me), stars as Frank Ryan, a mercenary who seems to be on a temporary sabbatical, at least until the right paycheck—or in this instance, suitcase full of cash—comes along. In order to set the tone for his character and the movie as a whole, I’ll have to spoil it just a little bit by describing the first scene.
Ryan is sleeping (shirtless, of course) on a couch. A phone rings. Without getting up or even moving very quickly, Ryan pulls a gun from beneath his pillow and shoots the phone. Yes, it’s just as hilarious and ridiculous as it sounds.
Things only get crazier from there. George Kennedy, who clearly did not own a nose hair trimmer at the time of filming, wants Ryan to get back into the game in order to help out a coup in the mythical country of “Cypra.” Blah blah blah. Honestly, none of this matters because the important part is that Ryan is going to pose as a fashion designer and be in charge of six female assassins posing as fashion models to get the job done. This leads to some amazing montages, laughably corny dialogue, subpar acting, double crossing, explosions, fake blood, awful fashion choices, and the appearance of the aforementioned Reed (and his impossibly unruly moustache) as a dictator named Michael Bartos.
To give anything else away would seriously destroy your enjoyment of the movie, not to mention you probably wouldn’t even believe what goes down in Hired To Kill without seeing it for yourself. It’s like The Dirty Dozen via Charlie’s Angels and filmed like The Love Boat. That’s not to say that there aren’t some impressive cinematography and action scenes. But high art it ain’t, and thank the dark gods for that.
Naturally, with a decidedly non-politically correct plot like this, you’re going to see and hear some things that are fairly unsavory. Considering that Hired To Kill was produced and co-directed by exploitation guru Niko Mastorakis, however, you’d be naïve to expect anything but crude sexism and homophobia, which is why it’s so bizarre that I enjoyed the hell out of this movie. I admire it for being so unafraid to be awful.
Hired To Kill is, arguably, a terrible movie but it’s one that’s so much fun to watch. I’m forever indebted to Arrow Video for not only digging rhinestones in the rough out of the dirt they’ve been buried in, but also sending them to me to enjoy.
The special features are brief but intriguing. Besides a commentary track from editor Barry Zetlin, there is a new on-camera interview with Mastorakis who clearly and obviously despised Oliver Reed, though after hearing about some of the late actor’s shenanigans on set, it’s not difficult to understand why. There’s also a stills gallery and the theatrical trailer.
One thing I should mention: one of the featurettes contains a new interview with Brian Thompson. It’s interesting enough until he starts waxing nostalgic about the topless beaches in Greece which comes across as kind of creepy. Then he mentions that one of the lead actresses caused a problem on set when she took off her bra and her boobs were saggy. This was not a laughing matter, Thompson assures us with utter seriousness, and it was a challenge to film his love scene with her because of this.
Surprisingly, the person filming the interview doesn’t punch him in the face. If his comments weren’t offensive enough, there are only two reviews of the disc I could find that mention anything about Thompson’s gross comments; in fact, most of the reviews praise him for being such an down to earth and nice guy, the kind you’d like to have a beer with! You know, before you go out and criticize women’s breasts for not being cinematic enough.
All in all, this is an impressive package from Arrow Video, despite Brian Thompson letting the world know that he’s likely as much of a sexist ass as the character he portrays and definitely a “boob guy.”
Hired To Kill was released by Arrow Video on May 17.