Vera Cruz, 1938. "Le Rital", a tough French hit man, agrees to serve Mexican revolutionaries who want to replace the current President by Chico, an insecure young bourgeois that they intend... See full summary »


(as Jose Giovanni)


(novel), (adaptation) (as Jose Giovanni)


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Cast overview:
Le rapace / Le rital
Rosa Furman ...
Aurora Clavel ...
Enrique Lucero ...
El Bosco
Carlos Cardán ...
Ruiz (as Carlos Lopez Figueroa)
Augusto Benedico ...
Maitre Calvez
René Barrera
Farnesio de Bernal ...
Le président (as Farnecio de Bernal)
Marco Antonio Arzate
Miguel Juarez - dit 'Chico'


Vera Cruz, 1938. "Le Rital", a tough French hit man, agrees to serve Mexican revolutionaries who want to replace the current President by Chico, an insecure young bourgeois that they intend to manipulate. The killing of the President is to take place in a small town whose "great lady", Camito, is an alluring former thespian and the despot's mistress. Things go according to plan as the President commits the imprudence to come and see Camito without his escort. "Le Rital" just has to pull the trigger and his mission is achieved. But to no avail actually as the revolutionaries prove unable to take advantage of the situation. Worse, "Le Rital" finds himself driven to shoot at Chico(without killing him though) whereas he has become close to him. In the end he leaves Mexico for new adventures without anybody knowing that deep inside himself he is a broken man. Written by Guy Bellinger

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Release Date:

24 April 1968 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Birds of Prey  »

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Did You Know?


Le Rapace
Written and Performed by François de Roubaix
Sung by Los Incas
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User Reviews

Lino Ventura agrees to assassinate Mexico's president
21 March 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is a very good movie, filmed in Mexico that really looks and feels Mexican, handling all kinds of scenes beautifully: crowd scenes with lots of people, a volcanic mountain, country exteriors, inside quarters, and railroad trains and trestles, etc. The atmosphere is about as good as you will ever see for this kind of movie.

"Le Rapace" (1968) is also known as "Birds of Prey". Rapace means a bird of prey, like a vulture. Lino Ventura plays a mercenary assassin, hired by revolutionaries in 1938 to assassinate the Mexican president. They intend to replace him with a figurehead, a young man, Xavier Marc, whom they can control.

One character calls Ventura a vulture at one point, the reason being that he is paid to kill. He makes his living off of killing. When it comes to siding with the revolutionaries and hoping to relieve the poverty of the poor, he has no interest in it. The reason for that is his cynicism. He has seen before that these revolutions, wherever they occur, tend to replace one set of corrupt figures with another.

The story has its share of action in the last third or so. Before that there is some devious plotting, some incidents, and especially some character development. Ventura has to hide out for awhile with the young Marc. This relationship of the older experienced cynic with the younger inexperienced idealist is central to the earlier part of the story. In one way or another, Ventura, who has no children, becomes mentor to the young man, teaching him important lessons. This part of the movie is novel, and it integrates very nicely and logically with the more action-oriented portion that follows. Several supporting characters figure into the story. One is the president's mistress, Rosa Furman. Another is in the inside revolutionary cabal. They add considerably to the story, filling out the subplots. From the very beginning, we know that the revolutionaries intend to kill Ventura after he completes his task. There is considerable suspense revolving around that devious aim.

Jose Giovanni's writing and directing provide a filling cinematic meal. Ventura gives us a well-rounded and nuanced picture of a complex man.

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