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The Killer Elite (1975)

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Reviews: 43 user | 32 critic

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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Title: The Killer Elite (1975)

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Cast

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

Mike Locken is one of the principle 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 | revenge | partner | security | ninja | See more »

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:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sam Peckinpah was assigned to direct this film by Mike Medavoy, the head of United Artists at the time. Medavoy believed in Peckinpah's abilities but knew that it was virtually impossible for Peckinpah to get a job with any of the studios, as he had alienated virtually everyone in Hollywood by that time. When this project came along Medavoy knew it was perfect for Peckinpah and gave it to him, but under the conditions that he worked under Medavoy's strict supervision. Peckinpah agreed. See more »

Goofs

One of the characters is shown before, during, and after major orthopedic surgery on his elbow and knee. Following surgery, both the entire arm and entire leg are encased in close-fitting gypsum casts. The intact casts are taken off many days later. Even with today's medicine, this would be impossible: injury and surgery to those joints would cause a great amount of unavoidable swelling that would make close-fitting casts detrimental and torturous. If casts are used today, ordinarily the area around the joint is cut out to accommodate swelling. See more »

Quotes

George Hansen: You just retired, Mike. Enjoy it.
See more »

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

Featured in Dusk to Dawn Drive-In Trash-o-Rama Show Vol. 2 (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

Ramona
(uncredited)
Lyrics by L. Wolfe Gilbert
Music by Mabel Wayne (1928)
Sung light-heartedly by James Caan and Robert Duvall
See more »

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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.


8 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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