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Monday, July 4, 2011

The Killer Elite

We love us some Sam Peckinpah. Unfortunately this one is from the waning period of his career. It features an unlikely combination of Peckinpah, James Caan, Robert Duvall, and ninjas. Yes, that's right- a Peckinpah movie with ninjas. Many of you no doubt recall ninjas being mentioned on this blog before, but this time these are real Asian ones not muscle bound 80's white guy ones.
See the trailer below:

((UPDATE July 7th, 2011- Note that at around 00:45 of the trailer as the supporting cast is being announced, the girl kicking ninjas is listed under the name Mako. Mako is in this film but as those of you who know who he is know Mako is a man and also Japanese. The person actually shown is Vietnamese actress Tiana Alexandra.))

Sure this film has its rough portions, but fuck it- its not terrible like his very last film The Osterman Weekend (gag me with a spoon!). Let's take a break from licking its asshole and talk about the movie and what its about a teensy bit shall we? Basically, its about James Caan and Robert Duvall's work with a company called COMTEG. They are an "independent contractor" who may or may not have a connection to a government organization know as the CIA. Duvall gets bought out by a foreign nation for a better price and not only kills the German national they were to transfer over to the CIA, but also shoots up Caan and cripples him.

Caan vows to return to duty and get revenge against his former partner, rehabilitating himself and learning martial arts. When the opportunity comes to get vengeance and the agency wants him back so he can make good on his promise, he can only say yes. This is all we will tell you about the movie, as we are sure you're familiar with rather cookie cutter espionage plots already. There's some semi interesting element involving Japanese assassins, but this also goes right in with the christmas tree shape that will be left in the dough once you move the form. Much like our review of Steele Justice some weeks back, we can't figure out why on earth we like it. If it weren't a Peckinpah movie full of macho bullshit and misogynist dialogue, we don't think we would.

Espionage movies are BORING. There's usually scenes of old dudes sitting around in offices talking about shit we as an audience don't care about because they aren't delivering information in any semblance of a compelling way and there's low level wheeling, dealing, and scheming in there too somewhere. Old people staring at each other smugly in a wood paneled office because they each know something the other doesn't does very little to catch the collective goat as it were. If it weren't for the AMAZING Peckinpah trademark slow-mo shootout at the end between guns and ninjas we probably wouldn't give a damn at all.

All of this being said, upon viewing it for what is now the fifth time at least, one cannot help but be engrossed beyond reason even though this is definitely one of his weaker efforts overall. How do you do this Sam Peckinpah? You're a real son of a bitch sometimes Sam. I guess his macho film formula is simply too much to resist... That or it was the super dude dialogue dismissing various prides and practices of Asian culture- wait maybe it was Robert Duvall's laugh in this scene:

One thing I honestly did not like was the use here and there of unnecessary voice overs to add comic relief during the first big shootout of the movie and during the climactic end fight sequence. I have quite a bit of difficulty believing this was Peckinpah's doing as it does not add anything to the proceedings and only comes across as stunted, awkward, and ultimately out of place in what is already a rather strange outing. That being said, its really anyone's guess as his alcoholism and rampant cocaine abuse (which landed him in hospital during production) severely limited his once bright genius. Despite all its drawbacks and shortcomings (not many of which are covered, I want you to see for yourself and make your own judgements) I still think its not too shabby and well worth a viewing for the Peckinpah completist.

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