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Programmed to Kill (1987)

R  |   |  Sci-Fi, Action  |  April 1987 (USA)
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Ratings: 3.8/10 from 271 users  
Reviews: 7 user | 6 critic

A middle eastern female terrorist is captured by the CIA in Greece, after an attack on a marketplace. Transported back to the USA, the terrorist undergoes an operation where she is ... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Eric Mathews
James Booth ...
Jason (as Paul W. Walker)
Louise Caire Clark ...
Peter Bromilow ...
Bill Allard ...
Assistant Surgeon
Chaim Banai ...
Liliana Cameroni ...
Dan Coffey ...
Assistant Doctor
Jason Cornado ...
John Gillespie ...


A middle eastern female terrorist is captured by the CIA in Greece, after an attack on a marketplace. Transported back to the USA, the terrorist undergoes an operation where she is transformed into a cybernetic killing machine. Now the CIA have a secret weapon to send back to the Middle East, but how long can they control her? Written by Humberto Amador

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


She's programmed to kill. He's got every reason to stop her. Neither of them have any choice.


Sci-Fi | Action


R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

April 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Retaliator  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


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Did You Know?


When Eric picks up a pistol from the video box to answer the door, it is one with a rounded trigger guard yet when he gets to the door, the pistol has a squared and larger trigger guard. See more »


Eric Mathews: There... sure... is... something... going... haywire... here!
See more »


Referenced in Robot Ninja (1989) See more »

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User Reviews

You can't control women, let alone cyborg women
1 February 2015 | by (the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls) – See all my reviews

Some five years ago, around the time of his untimely and unfortunate death, my movie buddy and I watched quite a lot of trashy Robert Ginty B-movies such as "Warrior of the Lost World", "White Fire" and – of course – "The Exterminator". We watched them as a tribute to Ginty, but obviously also because they always guarantee low-brained and ultra-violent entertainment. It's too bad that we couldn't get our filthy little hands on "Programmed to Kill" back then, because this also would have made a great installment for a Robert Ginty theme night. Although, in all fairness, it isn't Robert Ginty who steals the show here, but cult wench Sandahl Bergman. Also known as "The Retaliator", the plot is highly derivative of "The Terminator" (and arguably also of "Robocop", but it looks as if this film got released slightly earlier the same year) but correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think anyone is looking for originality or groundbreaking new story lines in an '80s actioner like this! Although a rather blatant rip- off, the script is nonetheless engaging and fast-paced, with plenty of gratuitous violence and cheesy dialogs. Bergman stars as Samira, a terrorist from the Middle East most wanted by the CIA because she herself is dangerous and because she's engaged to the brain of the terrorist organization. Together with her posse, Samira kills a bunch of tourists in Lebanon and takes two young American children hostage, but the CIA recruits mercenary Eric Mathews to set things right. The heavily wounded Samira is brought back to the States, but there she's secretly transformed into a cyborg and programmed to serve as a weapon against her former friends. This all goes well at first, but Samira's new circuits quickly go haywire and she turns against her masters. Once again, the reluctant Eric Mathews is brought in to save the day. "The Retaliator" – I actually prefer that title – is definitely a lot of fun while it lasts and features a couple of reasonably impressive and well-staged action sequences/stunts. In my personal favorite scene, Samira calls a CIA boss and kills him through shouting in the horn until his ears bleed. The climax is also quite exciting with a massive amount of explosions, machinery action and POV executions through cyborg-vision! Admittedly the film also won't make an everlasting impression and suffers from a few dull and pointless sub plots, like Mathews' troubled family situation. By the way, Ginty's teenage son Jason is played by Paul Walker – who also sadly passed away already – in one of his very first roles.

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