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Hi, Everyone, One way to make a movie build as it progresses, is to
start with a very boring scene. Leslie Neilsen begins his role here by
narrating a training film. We can instantly see he ain't the swiftest.
The problem is, it is not a comedy. It's funny sometimes but never a
The director must be given most of the blame. The cast is OK. Gary Lockwood and Leslie Neilsen should change their roles. Leslie would make a better pursuer. Maybe Nancy Kwan and Gary should change roles. Nancy would be more believable in the fight scenes than Gary.
The actors appear to be doing their own stunt fighting. They look confused. They seem to be trying to remember their choreography while the opponents wait to be punched.
The acting borders on awful. Sometimes it crosses that border. The writing is conventional. You have a super secret agency of the government that is made up of well armed men. They are all very stupid. They have $300,000 to play with that they had hidden somewhere. They film some of their exploits for training purposes, but the films are all too dark to see what is going on.
My guess is that Leslie Neilsen and Gary Lockwood and Nancy Kwan have never got together to celebrate the release of this stinker.
I almost forgot. There is a song in the movie. The girl who sang it was the one who should have been chased and Karate chopped. Actually maybe the song writer should have been the villain.
Compare the beginning speech of George C. Scott in Patton with Leslie Neilsen's speech at the beginning of this movie. George C. Scott had a passion and the words to fit that passion. Leslie Neilsen sounds like a boxer being interviewed after a bout where he was unable to find a neutral corner.
If you want a turkey for Thanksgiving, this might be it. This is the bird that didn't quite make it over the cuckoo's nest.
I have seen many movies throughout my life just like the next guy. This was something special. Project Kill is the worst movie I have ever seen. I actually bought this movie because of the comments made on this website and thought to myself that it can't be THAT bad. Boy was I wrong about that. This movie was rated R back in 1977 and after viewing it, I have yet to find out why. Just a few things that made this film horrible include: The dialogue has inflections that don't make sense where they are placed, the "fight" scenes are so fake I almost started throwing things at the TV, and Nancy Kwan's role in this gem is absolutely pointless. This movie is so bad, I just had to force myself to laugh during some parts to avoid an aneurysm. Godspeed to those who want to subject themselves to this torture.
And I am not talking about insulin for diabetes. Contrary to popular
belief, veteran actor Leslie Nielsen did not have his first comedic
role in "Naked Gun." No, ladies and gentleman, that role would have to
be here, in "Project: Kill," one of the most unintentionally hilarious
movies I've ever seen. What is so tragic is that I believe the
filmmakers had half-sincerity in what they were doing - trying to make
a decent '70s-style political paranoia movie on the cheap. Director and
Kentucky-based B-movie maven William Girdler even called this his
greatest film, making me wonder whether he had an injection or two of
What they made instead is a movie with Nielsen embarrassing himself as a drugged-up, brainwashed top-secret assassin, walking through the Phillipines for some reason with both a bunch of Asian gangsters and an ex-partner after him (played by Gary Lockwood who, unbelievably, was in "2001: A Space Odyessey" 8 years earlier. His presence here certainly indicates that he received no royalties from that film). While on this little travel excursion, we get to see the beautiful and seedy sides of the Philippines (the producer appears to have spent the majority of the budget on pointless scenic photography at the expense of a badly-needed dialogue coach), and we also get to see the clumsiest kung-fu fight scenes ever put to celluloid. I'm not kidding - it seems as if Bugs Bunny was the resident martial arts consultant for filming. In addition, we get plenty of pseudo-sophisticated camera-work a la Sidney J. Furie's "The Ipcress File." I half expected to see the cameraman's foot slip into the bottom of the screen these shots were so inept. Two other highlights: a music score which seems to cut off and restart incorrectly during scene transitions, and Lockwood's boss on the telephone who has the voice of Alvin and the Chipmunks.
I feel deeply sorry for the people of the Philippines. First, the United States annexed their country and claimed it as U.S. territory, then a hundred years later it made cheap movies like this even more cheaply over there to exploit the currency differential. A movie like this is grounds for diplomatic sanctions by the Philippines against the U.S. It is good for a few laughs and for curiosity's sake. For that reason, I will forego giving it a formal star rating, and let you get out of this whatever qualities you may; after all, life is like a box of chocolates...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There's a vaguely interesting storyline with a tragic overtone in this
little film - if you were generous, you could even call it
"Ludlum-esque" - and the two lead actors have done good work elsewhere,
but any promise "Project Kill" might have is buried from the opening
credits under laughable execution and cheap, shoddy direction and
I don't have the problem some viewers do with Leslie Nielsen as an dramatic hero, because I remember him from "Forbidden Planet". And Gary Lockwood was good in "2001" and even played the dashing lead in a light-weight fantasy film called "The Magic Sword". But this film proves that these two actors are really only as good as their screen-play and director let them be - they're badly miscast as secret agent "killing machines". Lockwood, in particular, just can't seem to get with the program - half of the time, he doesn't seem to know what to do with his arms. Nancy Kwan is OK - although she is so skinny and frail looking that it's kind of hard to see her as a sex object, and the other female "lead" is annoying, shrill and unappealing. (I admit that the lines her character has to speak don't help her cause.)
Oddly, the acting in some of the minor parts is a lot better, or at least more suitable for the story. Victor Diaz hams it up nicely as the chief gangster, and the guy playing Inspector Cruz is actually a pleasure to watch - here's a character actor who knows what he's doing on camera. And some of the extras and gangster thugs mug pretty well for the camera. Also, when they get shot, they really get into the whole "death throes" thing.
As for the fight scenes - it's as if someone associated with this movie watched the action sequences from "Mannix" and "Star Trek" and took notes...but they then lost their notes and tried to reproduce every thing from memory five years later. Nielsen and Lockwood are actually in pretty good shape for older male actors from that era, and Nielsen in particular is pretty buff with his shirt off - but they aren't fighters and they look silly and stiff trying to mix it up with the bad guys and with each other. There are a couple takes that don't completely such; for instance - there's a scene where Nielsen charges a door and shoots a bad guy through the door and back-fists another one out the window - that one was decent. Lockwood sucker punches a couple of thugs in a bar and hits one with piece of furniture, and that's decently done. But that's about it.
There are some nice, pretty shots of scenery, and one or two decent shots of Nielsen looking forlorn and lost, but for the most part, the movie is completely static and boring; even the sound and vocals are muddy and muffled. Sound design is one of the most underrated, but important, aspects to a quality film, and this one was obviously recorded on the cheap, which costs it another star.
Did I mention that the plot makes no sense? That there are holes in it you could drive a truck through? That most of the dialog completely misfires?
I only paid a buck to see this (it's a reissue from Digiview Productions) and I watched with a couple of glasses of nice wine late one night after everyone else had gone to bed, but I wasn't sleepy...I was looking for a time-killer, and that's what I got.
Poor Gary Lockwood. I hope he recovered from this.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
... and not just because my copy looked like someone held their cell
phone camera up to a 16mm projector.
A young, spry (all of 55 years old!) Leslie Nielsen stars opposite Gary Lockwood with a vintage Pete Rose haircut in this attempt at a psychological thriller that, frankly, left me more confused than anything else. I'm amazed to learn that this film even saw a theatrical release.
"Project: Kill" borrows a theme successfully used in other films (like "The Manchurian Candidate"): government-bred, mind-controlled assassins. Nielsen's John Trevor, longing for the peaceful life he gave up the chance for long ago, decides he's had enough- he wants out, and escapes to Manila suffering withdrawal from The Program's brain-altering chemicals all the while. Lockwood's Frank Lassiter is charged with retrieving Trevor, as drugged-out brainwashed assassins aren't allowed to up and retire to Boca Raton. The two characters are apparently friends with a history together- which would indeed add an interesting dimension to the story- but their relationship is never really elaborated upon. As Lassiter tracks Trevor around the Phillipines, they each find themselves a romantic interest, some allies... some random gangsters get involved for some reason... and the movie climaxes with a fight at the always exciting location of "the docks."
Now, the climax is what convinced me to spend the $1 on this DVD. The synopsis on the package boasts that "Neilson (yes, it's misspelled) and Lockwood collide in an epic climax filled with exciting martial arts sequences." I know what you're thinking: battle of the Franks! Drebin vs. Poole! This is going to be amazing! Alas, no. Lockwood beating up William Shatner with his mind in the second pilot of Star Trek is more convincing. Nielsen's fight with the world's terrorists at the beginning of The Naked Gun was choreographed with more effort. The one redeeming feature of Project: Kill's climax was the "kill shot" Lockwood executes on Nielsen, in wondrous slow-motion against a setting sun- pretty darn funny. Unfortunately, the movie dribbles on for a few more unnecessary minutes after that.
So was it worth watching? Probably not the whole thing. Fast-forward to the "martial arts" scenes for a few chuckles. Leslie Nielsen and Gary Lockwood are both good actors, with 11 decades of film and television work between them. But this barely qualifies as film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Oh, the horrid and lackluster road Nielson's career would have taken had he not participated in "Airplane!" a few years after this, a riotous comedy which gave him an entirely new lease on a career that had nearly come to a close. Here he is stuck in a horrible, low-budget mess in which he plays a government assassin who leaves his highly secretive organization (of which he was the head) and flees to the Philippines. His second-in-command Lockwood pursues him in order to either bring him back or eliminate him while the local police and local hoodlums are also on Nielson's tail. Somehow, he still finds time to meet and bed down Kwan, a lady staying at the same hotel as he is. Things start off inauspiciously with a group of men in those distinctly seventies workout suits watching a training movie about political killing. There seems to be an unspoken contest between Nielson and Lockwood as to who can unzip his top the furthest without looking too ridiculous. Since Nielson has a gold chain on under his, he wins by default. The film is alternately dull as dishwater and unintentionally hilarious. If a person has been waiting to see a knock-down kung fu battle between hired thugs and a man in a wheelchair, this is the film to grab. There's a fair amount of arm-wrenching and neck-breaking as is to be expected from a film called "Project: Kill", but it's more than a little laughable to see Nielson, and even Lockwood, performing these tasks, even if one considers that Nielson was taken fairly seriously at this stage of his career and that a solid career in comedy was yet to come around the bend. It must be noted, however, that in his shirtless scene, Nielson has remarkably toned abs for a man his age and for this time when working out was not a daily ritual for most people. Kwan's role couldn't be more thankless or insubstantial (or inconsequential!) Don't miss the scene in which Lockwood trashes a large section of a hotel lounge (not because of the resident singer, as one might expect!) and strides out without so much as a nod to the management and is then seen sitting in his room on the phone as if nothing happened. Maybe the place was just going to add the damage to his bill. Also, the said phone conversation appears to be with someone from "The Flintstones", so high-pitched and fast is the other voice on the line! Only those with an interest in obscure martial arts flicks (preferably bad ones!) or fans who feel the need to see Nielson's complete filmography should bother with this eternally average and amateurish movie.
William Girdler made a number of memorable, b-grade action films in his
prolific though brief career before his premature death, but "Project:
Kill", unfortunately, isn't one for the highlight reel. Nielsen stars
as a jaded US military project head, conditioning elite soldiers to
become assassins with the aid of drug control. When he escapes to the
Philippines to consult with a crippled ex-army buddy (Thompson), his
2IC (Lockwood) follows in pursuit with orders to recover or destroy
before other sinister interests learn the project's secrets.
Kwan is terribly wasted playing a Chinese love interest for the programmatic Nielsen, emotionally inert, unable to develop feelings of attraction and love until the drug withdrawal begins to wane and he discovers a human side he'd long neglected. Lockwood is the kung-fu fighting 2IC, another unlikely looking killing machine, while ubiquitous Philippino actors Vic Diaz and Vic Silayan are the villain and the cop respectively, both looking relaxed in their environment.
Girdler's picture aims high but is seriously compromised by its production limitations and fatally stagnant pace. The plot has more holes than a sieve and the action sequences are poorly choreographed and lack intensity. Girdler was indeed a fine, emerging director with some talent, but "Project: Kill" isn't among his best work.
Interesting actioner from the late director of GRIZZLY, MANITOU and DAY OF THE ANIMALS. This features Leslie Nielsen as a Kung-fu expert/secret agent who wants out, but in his line of work, there is only one way out...DEATH. Nielsen goes on a run, his friend and fellow agent Gary Lockwood is hot on his trail. Nielsen battle local bad guy Vic Diaz as a second plotline. I don't know if this film got any theatrical booking, for it played a lot on CBS late night. The video print is dirty and looks like it was from a 16mm print. The film is not bad, and Nielsen does a real good job in the film. It's not recommended for most fans of Nielsen today will view this film as a comedy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
John Trevor leads a top-secret military program called Project: Kill
which turns soldiers into elite bodyguards through use of mental
conditioning & drug therapy. Tired of the constant injections &
concerned about the program creating assassins, Trevor defects from the
program & flees to Manila. His second-in-command Frank Lassiter is sent
to either bring him back or to eliminate him if he refuses to comply.
At the same time a Hong Kong arms dealer named Alok Lee gets wind of
Trevor's defection & decides to track him down in order to force him to
help with Lee's plan to set up a parallel program to train the perfect
Years before he became one of the world's best-known comedians & the master of the deadpan (and creating the immortal reply: "I am serious and don't call me Shirley"), Leslie Nielsen was a modestly accomplished serious actor who starred in various thrillers (I loved his performance in CREEPSHOW). In Project: Kill he stars as a former soldier turned master warrior who gets sick of the hypocrisy & abandons his program for the quiet life.
With the exception of Nielsen's performance, everything about Project: Kill is pedestrian to the point of acute boredom. The story is one-dimensional & filled with poor plotting. The majority of the cast are poor, particularly Gary Lockwood, who makes a decidedly wooden hero & Pamela Parsons as the useless adviser. Vic Diaz delivers some minor enthusiasm as the villain but his role is too slight to make much impact to the storyline. The action scenes, consisting of bland, unexciting & poorly set-up fights & a rather pathetic attempt at a car chase, are boredom inducing. Nielsen is the only high point, with his dangerously unpredictable character's attempt to flee a life he did not want making some minor headway in an otherwise unexceptional & painfully poor thriller.
William Girdler's "Project: Kill" is your basic B movie. Leslie Nielsen
- still a few years away from telling people not to call him Shirley -
plays an agent stationed in the Philippines training special forces
members enhanced with drugs. But when he finds out too much, he becomes
Despite the lousy action scenes and low production quality, I still feel as though I have to recommend this movie. It's the sort of movie to which Quentin Tarantino often pays homage, and in fact Tarantino called co-star Vic Díaz the Filipino Peter Lorre. The rest of the cast includes Gary Lockwood (Poole in "2001: A Space Odyssey") and Nancy Kwan (who's had some famous roles, but this is the first movie in which I've seen her).
And then there's the director. William Girdler later cast Leslie Nielsen in the eco-horror flick "Day of the Animals", and Nielsen wrestles a grizzly bear in one scene (seriously, it's a movie that you have to see to believe). Unfortunately, Girdler perished in a helicopter crash while filming on location in the Philippines in 1978.
Nonetheless, it IS a B movie. I have no doubt that Leslie Nielsen preferred his reputation as the person who remains serious amid silliness.
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