Review: Hired To Kill
Blu-ray: Hired To Kill (1990)
There have been some iconic opening shots in movie history; the camera panning down amongst the stars before a huge spacecraft appears from over our heads in Star Wars. Hitchcock’s masterful direction at the beginning of Rear Window which sets up all you need to know about L.B. Jefferies without a word being spoken. The long tracking shot of James Bond in Spectre as the viewer follows him through the crowds at the Day of the Dead festival before culminating in an explosive action sequence. Brian Thompson asleep in a boat wearing just his underpants, who silences a ringing phone by shooting it…without even opening his eyes.
You’re not familiar with that last one? Well allow me to introduce you to Hired To Kill, a crazy action movie from genre favourite Nico Mastorakis. If that opening shot hasn’t already got you jumping online and ordering Arrow Films fantastic dual format package, then let me add that it also stars a constantly drunk Oliver Reed who sports a moustache so flamboyant that it should have its own credit on IMDB. Now you MUST be interested!?
Brian Thompson plays Frank Ryan, a mercenary for hire who is tasked by Thomas (George Kennedy) to lead 7 women on a mission to the fictional island of Cypra to rescue a political prisoner (Jose Ferrer) from the islands evil dictator Michael Bartos (played as always with barely contained alcohol fuelled madness by the great ‘Olly’ Reed). Why lead 7 women you may well ask? Well the answer, as well as one given by writer/director Nico Mastorakis in a fantastic interview special feature (see below), is that they are posing as fashion models. Plus they look far better than men in bikinis and lingerie…which is what they spend most of the movie wearing.
This sets up the spine of the movie as Frank Ryan travels the world putting together his specialist team (think Expendables 3 but with more boobs) and then putting them through a rigorous training regime…while he watches topless and flexing (Nico has put the eye candy in no matter what your preference is). With the majority of the movie setting up the story premise and the acquisition/training of the team, the bulk of the action is squeezed into a crazy 20 minute finale that has all the explosions, helicopters, gun firing and falling bodies that you have come to know and love from movies like this.
I haven’t even mentioned how Frank Ryan’s identity is changed to homosexual fashion designer ‘Cecil Thornton’, or the lingering kiss between Brian Thompson and Oliver Reed (whilst Olly has a firm grip on Brian’s ‘meat and 2 veg’), and I could fill an entire review with some of the most quotable dialog in celluloid history…you’ll find yourself rewatching on many occasions to commit these nuggets of verbal Gold to memory.
Hired To Kill may be low on budget but it scores high on entertainment. With visual and verbal highlights coming at you throughout its entire 93 minute running time, you’ll be thanking the ability to pause and grab another beer (Olly would like that) before the next scene has you cheering and laughing. An essential purchase from Arrow Films even before you add the superb set of special features that is included too.
- Brand new 2K restoration of the film, approved by writer-director Nico Mastorakis
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
- Original Stereo audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Audio Commentary with editor Barry Zetlin (a very informative commentary which gives some great stories about not only editing this movie, but stories from others too)
- Hired to Direct – a brand new interview with director Nico Mastorakis on the making of Hired to Kill (superb interview where we learn that it was based as ‘The Magnificent Seven with women’, that Olly had 2 bottles of champagne for breakfast, of a tragedy that hit the set, and much more)
- Undercover Mercenary – a brand new interview with star Brian Thompson (Fantastic relaxed interview with Brian in his garden where he chats about his early acting work, his experience on the set of Hired To Kill, and a story about Olly’s ‘chopper’…he does an impression of him that I LOVED)
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- Stills Gallery
- Original Freedom or Death Screenplay (BD/DVD-ROM Content)
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys (it’s Graham Humphreys, so you can be assured of superb work)
- Fully-illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by critic James Oliver