Hired to Kill (1990)

Oliver Reed and George Kennedy star in an unremarkable action thriller from Nico Mastorakis. Hollywood DVD UK R0 DVD.

The Film

Frank Ryan is hired by his enigmatic contact (George Kennedy) to travel to the Meditteranean state of Cypra and free the rebel leader Rallis, prompting a revolution that will be good for the business of the moneymen behind the operation. In order to enter the security concious country, Ryan has to go undercover as a fashion designer with his models and is forced to select an entirely female commando team for the mission. Selecting a group of operatives from around the world, he trains them and they travel to Cyrpa, but quickly run into security minister Michael Bartos (Oliver Reed) who is suspicious of Ryan...

Director, producer and co-writer Nico Mastorakis was quite a major figure in Greek entertainment during the 60s and 70s, both in radio and television, before making a move into films, writing and directing the video nasty Island of Death (1977), providing the story for Hollywood romance The Greek Tycoon (1978) and later setting up his own production company Omega Entertainment to shoot a series of low budget action and comedy films through the 1980s in the US and Greece.

Co-written by Kirk Ellis, who also wrote Mastorakis' horror thriller Nightmare at Noon (1988), Hired to Kill is a well paced but very by-the-book thriller with few surprises, most of the twists would be quite easy to predict for anyone who has seen a few other genre films. The key concept that Ryan is forced to use women in his operation is admittedly a rather different one and provides a few interesting moments, but generally seems to be nothing more than an excuse for showing a lot of scenes of women in various fasion outfits and when the action starts it really makes no difference whether it is men or women firing the guns. A few interesting themes do crop up during the storyline, particularly the idea that George Kennedy's character is controlling revolutions for the highest bidder, but nothing is really developed here and even the one unpredicted twist late on that seems to pose quite a dillema is left unresolved and simply forgotten by the rather simplistic ending.

Behind the camera, Nico Mastorakis is an assured director and the film has a suitably slick Hollywood style that might disappoint anyone hoping for something more interesting and original from a Greek production, however it is certainly a step above what would normally be expected on a film that premiered on video in most territories. The Greek locations are well scouted and the action scenes are suitably explosive while a rather typical genre light-orchestral soundtrack provides a good backing.

Hard working American actor Brian Thompson takes the lead role and spends most of the film with his shirt off. He seems well suited to the part and manages to avoid the sequences where he is pretending to be the fittingly camp fashion designer from descending into comedy. Oliver Reed, sporting a truely epic mustache, plays the local minister and gets some very good scenes, playing with a plapable sense of menace, while George Kennedy (who previously appeared in Nightmare at Noon) has an extended cameo as Ryan's contact.

There is nothing wrong with Hired to Kill and it boasts some solid direction, good acting and a well paced storyline with an explosive climax. However, it lacks anything that would make it really worth tracking down - there are not enough action scenes for an all-action movie and the plot is too simple to be a proper thriller. Worth watching if it came on TV but you would not be missing anything by skipping this one.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? Brian Thompson - an American actor who played a variety of supporting roles including in DragonHeart (1996)
Oliver Reed - British actor who got his start with Hammer films in Curse of the Werewolf (1961)
George Kennedy - veteran character actor who appeared in the Airport series and Shenandoah (1965)
Directed by anyone interesting? Nico Mastorakis - a Greek director who helmed the video nasty Island of Death (1977) before moving into more mainstream productions for his Omega Entertainment company, including Nightmare at Noon (1988)
Any gore or violence ? A little blood.
Any sex or nudity? A couple of brief topless shots.
Who is it for? Fans of action films or the lead actors might enjoy this, but there are so many better films to watch first.

Visuals Original Aspect Ratio - 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colour.
A fine looking print with good colours and detail
Audio English stereo
Subtitles None.
Extras The disc includes:
  • Trailer.
Region Region 0 (ALL) - PAL
Availability On a single disc, as a double bill with Mastorakis's Nightmare At Noon (1988) or in a four film pack with Cold Harvest, City Of Fear and Traitor's Heart.
Other regions? Not currently available in the US. On DVD in Australia, looks to be the same print as the UK disc.
Cuts? Believed to be fully uncut. Print language is English.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 25th March 2012.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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