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The Killer Elite (1975)

Mike Locke, who works for a private security firm affiliated with the CIA, is betrayed by his partner and left apparently crippled for life.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Mike Locken
...
...
Cap Collis
...
Jerome Miller
...
Yuen Chung
...
Mac
...
Lawrence Weyburn
Tom Clancy ...
O'Leary
...
Tommie (as Tiana)
Walter Kelley ...
Walter
Kate Heflin ...
Amy
Sondra Blake ...
Josephine
Carole Mallory ...
Rita
James Wing Woo ...
Tao Yi
...
Bruce (as George Kee Cheung)
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Storyline

Mike Locken is one of the principal members of a group of freelance spies. A significant portion of their work is for the C.I.A. and while on a case for them, one of his friends turns on him and shoots him in the elbow and knee. His assignment, to protect someone, goes down in flames. He is nearly crippled, but with braces is able to again become mobile. For revenge as much as anything else, Mike goes after his ex-friend. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

cia | spy | revenge | partner | security | See All (265) »

Taglines:

MEN WANTED. Private company with C.I.A. contract seeks men willing to risk life. Perfect physical condition. Experience with weaponry, incendiaries, Karate/Judo. No loyalties. No dependents. Long career doubtful. See more »

Genres:

Action | Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

19 December 1975 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Assassinos de Elite  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(DeLuxe)|

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Most of the film's action sequences were filmed in San Francisco's Chinatown on Waverly Street, the actual site of what became known as the "Tong Wars" - vicious battles between rival groups of Chinese - that took place in Chinatown shortly after World War I. See more »

Goofs

In the freighter graveyard scene, Miller holds a submachine gun identified as an Uzi. In fact, it is an Ingram Mac-10 with a cosmetic attachment to make it appear superficially like an Uzi. Furthermore, when first shown in Miller's hands, the attachment is on upside-down, putting the large front sight assembly on the bottom of the weapon instead of the top. In the next shot, the attachment is correctly oriented. See more »

Quotes

Lawrence Weyburn: Chung, I thought somebody had taken care of him.
O'Leary: It's just a question of time. But it's not in the national interest that it should happen either today, or for that matter tomorrow. It's especially central that it doesn't happen under any circumstances within the confines of the United States. What happens to him Friday, after he's gone, is no longer our concern.
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Crazy Credits

This film is a work of fiction. There is no company called Communications Integrity NOR ComTeg and the thought the C.I.A. might employ such an organization for any purpose is, of course, preposterous. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Dear Phone (1976) See more »

Soundtracks

Ramona
(1928) (uncredited)
Lyrics by L. Wolfe Gilbert
Music by Mabel Wayne
Sung by James Caan and Robert Duvall
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User Reviews

 
CIA Stands For Carelessly Incoherent Actioner
19 June 2009 | by (Greenwich, CT United States) – See all my reviews

The problem with "The Killer Elite" is that just by seeking this film out, and investing time to watch it, you are putting more effort into the experience than many of its principals did, particularly director Sam Peckinpah.

The already volatile Peckinpah was heading into rough weather with this film. According to at least one biographer, this was where he became acquainted with cocaine. Add to that his binge drinking, and it's no wonder things fell apart.

It's a shame, because the concept behind the film is a good one, and the first ten minutes promise much. Mike Locken (James Caan) and George Hansen (Robert Duvall) are private contractors who do a lot of dirty work for the CIA. They move quick, live well, and seem like the best of friends - then something happens to shatter their brotherhood.

An opening scene shows them blowing up a building - why exactly we aren't told, par for the course in terms of this film's murky motivation. But the implication is these guys hurt people and don't really care - antiheroes much like the Wild Bunch of Peckinpah's not-so-long-ago. An opening title tells us they work for ComTeg, then adds with obvious tongue in cheek "...the thought the CIA might employ such an organization for any purpose is, of course, preposterous." That's a pretty clever way of letting the audience know all bets are off.

Add to that a traditionally strong Peckinpah backup cast, including Burt Young, Gig Young, and Peckinpah regular Bo Hopkins in the plum role of a madman who can't pass up an opportunity to be shot at for $500 a day, and you only wish that the scriptwriters, including the celebrated Sterling Silliphant, tried to do something more with the story than turn it into a platform for lazy one-liners and bad chop-socky knockoffs. An attempt at injecting a dose of liberal social commentary is awkwardly shoehorned in. "You're so busy doing their dirty work, you can't tell who the bad guys are," someone tells Locken, as if either he or we need it pointed out.

Worse still are Peckinpah's clumsy direction and sluggish pacing. We're 40 minutes into the film before we get our first battle scene, a completely chaotic collection of random shots where a bunch of people we haven't even met before are seen fighting at San Francisco Airport, their battle intercut with a conversation in an office suite.

By the end of the film, what's left of the cast is having a battle inside a fleet of mothballed Victory Ships, ninjas running out in the open to be gunned down while Caan tosses off one liners that undercut any hint of real suspense. "Lay me seven-to-five, I'll take the little guy," he wisecracks just before a climatic samurai duel between two ninja warriors - from China, which we all know is the land of the Ninja. (The battle takes place in San Francisco, but surprisingly no Mounties arrive to break things up.)

Caan is much better in smaller scenes, like when Locken, recovering from some nasty injuries, is told by one of his bosses, played by a smooth Arthur Hill, that he's been "Humpty-dumped" by the organization. Caan refuses to stay down, and his recovery scenes, though momentum-killing for the movie, feature fine acting from him and Amy Heflin, Van's daughter, as a supportive nurse. Caan was one of the 1970s' best actors, and his laconic byplay with Heflin, Duvall, Hopkins, and both Youngs give "Killer Elite" real watchability.

But you don't watch "Killer Elite" thinking about that. You watch it thinking of the film that got away.


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