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Man on Fire (1987)

A former CIA agent, John Creasy, is hired as a bodyguard for a girl in Italy, who becomes the daughter he never had. When she is abducted, Creasy's fiery rage is unleashed, and despite being badly wounded, embarks on a bloody revenge spree.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Giancarlo Prati ...
Inigo Lezzi ...
Alessandro Haber ...
Franco Trevisi ...
Lorenzo Piani ...


A former CIA agent, John Creasy, is hired as a bodyguard for a girl in Italy, who becomes the daughter he never had. When she is abducted, Creasy's fiery rage is unleashed, and despite being badly wounded, embarks on a bloody revenge spree.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


For an ex-CIA agent, the job of bodyguard for a twelve-year old girl should have been a breeze...


Action | Drama | Thriller


R | See all certifications »





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Release Date:

4 September 1987 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Absinthe  »

Box Office


$519,596 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Producer Arnon Milchan wanted Sergio Leone to direct Robert De Niro, while Tony Scott wanted either Marlon Brando or Robert Duvall as his leading man when he was slated to direct. See more »


[first lines]
Creasy: And so. That's how I ended. A stiff in a body bag.
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Remade as Man on Fire (2004) See more »


Someone to Watch Over Me
Words and Music by George Gershwin (as George) and Ira Gershwin
Published by 'WB Music Corp. [us]' All Rights Reserved
See more »

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User Reviews

Poor thriller with only basic cult appeal due to those involved in the cast
15 June 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Former CIA agent Creasy finds himself employed as a private bodyguard to a wealthy family living in Italy – a job arranged by his friend and former colleague David. At first he hates it as it involves working with a child (Sam), a subject that carries a lot of pain for him. However gradually he softens to Sam and relaxes into a job described to him by David as no-risk baby-sitting, despite the kidnapping problems in Italy. When Sam is kidnapping right out of Creasy's arms, he is left riddled with bullets. It becomes a matter for the police and paying is not an option from their point of view. Awaking in hospital, Creasy decides to take matters violently into his own hands.

It was the sequel that made me come back to this film and, given Scott's heavy use of style I was hoping that this would be a much more slimmed down and gritty film but still keeping the violence and desperation. As it is though, Man on Fire is just a disappointment because it doesn't do a terrible lot of note. I can understand why it does have a certain amount of cult appeal because it is a strange beast of a film. It is very American in cast but yet very European in style and delivery, like it is an attempt to ape the American movies without stepping too far from it. The problem is that it is cheaply done and basic – and not in a good way. Creasy's character changes like a light being flicked on and off. However even with this we still drag our way through the story. When the violence finally comes it lacks conviction and is surprisingly dull.

It is a shame because I was hoping that the low budget feel would mean a very gritty and desperate feel to the film but there is never much in the way of urgency. For me director Chouraqui carries the can on this because he directs with a clumsy touch and his use of slow motion at the start and end is a terrible call. The cast are OK but to be honest it is mostly the novelty value of having them there. Glenn deserves more and could have given more if given the opportunity. Pesci, Pryce and Aiello are all so-so at best but it is Malle that is the worst cast – not only is she a bit irritating, but she doesn't have the chemistry with Glenn that the film requires.

I wanted to like Man on Fire because it is a bit of a cult film that few people have seen. However the truth is that there is a reason for this because it is just not that good. It doesn't deliver convincing characters or story and the violence is too dull and uninvolving to save the day. The remake is not a great film by any means but it is certainly better than the original – and maybe that was the point Scott wanted to prove!

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