Gangster boss Vincent Luca shall appear in court to account for his crimes - but he has a man at the police who tells him names and locations of the witnesses, so he can kill them all - but one: In the last hit, the professional killer gets into the wrong house. When the owner Mark Collins comes home, he finds his pregnant wife unconscious in the kitchen, his friend dead in the living room and his son kidnapped. The police officer wants Luca to believe he has the real witness' son and sends Collins into prison. But he manages to escape and takes things into his own hands. Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
Your standard good guys versus bad guys action flick is given a boost thanks to some fast-paced excitement, sharp camerawork, and a solid cast of character actors. HIT LIST is a fine achievement directed by William Lustig (MANIAC COP 2, UNCLE SAM). It is a vastly under-appreciated movie that did not earn nearly enough respect from both critics and audiences alike. HIT LIST is nonetheless an acclaimed little thriller.
Reputed mob overlord Vic Luca (Rip Torn) is in a ton of trouble. The infamous Luca is being put on trial, indicted for racketeering amongst other federal crimes. However, Luca is confident that he will be found innocent...only if he can tie a few loose ends.
First, Luca must make sure that these two witnesses, Gravenstein (Ken Lerner) and Frank DeSalvo (Leo Rossi) do not live to testify. Luca decides that he needs a right-hand man to finish the job properly so he hires Chris Caleek (Lance Henriksen), a shoe salesman by day...and a professional killer by night.
Caleek manages to permanently silence one of the witnesses...but another one is still alive.
Jack Collins (Jan-Michael Vincent) is an ordinary man with an ordinary job and an ordinary life. His ordinary life is about to take a turn for the worse...
Due to a wrong address, everything begins to be thrown off course. Caleek arrives at Collins's house, expecting to find the witness under federal protection. Instead, he finds Collins's wife, Sandy (Harriet Hall) and everything just falls apart. Caleek attacks the wrong people, kills the wrong bystander, and kidnaps Collins's son...
Jack Collins arrives home moments later only to realize that his wife is beaten and is currently unconscious. His son has also been kidnapped. With minimal help from the FBI agents Tom Mitchum (Charles Napier) and Jared Riley (Jere Burns), Collins finds himself reluctantly teaming up with the informant DeSalvo. They must race against time in order to rescue Collins's child and stop Luca's men...
The B-movie genre is one of my favorite genres. These types of films are always proliferating in the video shelves week after week. For the most part, HIT LIST is an example of a B-movie that delivers the fireworks. This movie includes just about anything and everything possible. From incredible car chases and martial arts sequences to a convoluted plot about the "Mafia," HIT LIST is your ticket to an enjoyable experience. There is enough zest in this film to satiate even the most ardent aficionados of B-movies.
HIT LIST benefits from some noteworthy performances. Many familiar faces in the cast can be recognized such as Jan-Michael Vincent, Rip Torn, Lance Henriksen, Charles Napier, and Leo Rossi. For the most part, these veteran character actors do a tremendous job with proficiency. Thanks to the great cast, HIT LIST is more than an action-thriller; it is also an intense crime drama. Rip Torn is great as a mob boss of pure haughtiness. He even enjoys mentioning quotes from Machiavelli! Lance Henriksen is in top form as a shoe store employee (and a part-time elusive ninja assassin). The vivacious Leo Rossi is excellent as an informant in trouble. His character may be cold-blooded on the outside, but he's intrinsically soft. You will end up rooting for this tough-surfaced hero! Jan-Michael Vincent is also good as an everyday man thrown into the danger zone. Vincent is back in action after having a disappointing cameo in the dismal film, ENEMY TERRITORY. In short, HIT LIST contains some surprisingly efficient performances that give this movie some extra profundity.
Of course, if the acting does not satisfy you, then the action will! The competently staged action alone makes this film worth seeing. The shoot-out inside a "Lazer Tag" center is awesome and the finale will literally take your breath away! It is one of the best action sequences you will ever see. With stylized action scenes and stunts, this movie is turbo-charged for your own satisfaction! Believe me, the action will not disappoint you!
An ironic aspect about this movie is its screenplay, which is tenuous yet strong. Though it has a number of flaws in coherence, the screenplay itself is thoughtful and meaningful. It gives some insights about the father and son relationship. The idea is that a father should always go the distance, especially for the sake of his own son's safety. The screenplay also deals a lot with justice and how it is blinded in a power-driven, money-making society. In addition, this movie wanted to make a statement saying that sometimes, justice will not always be served...
The only complaint that I can mention about this film is its occasional lax spots. Even the best action movies tend to lose their vigor once in a while. HIT LIST is no exception. The worst offender was the first half which was sometimes lackadaisical; but that would be allowable since the film's exhilarating climax compensates for a few plodding spots.
HIT LIST is a part gangster film, part urban thriller, part courtroom drama, and an all out action movie. This well-made thriller never knows when to quit! It is certainly a cool, nicely crafted movie with expert stunt-work, keen performances, and subtle undertones. Great performances + merciless action + relentless violence = a recommended sleeper hit. Make sure to add this film to your "hit list" of movies you plan to see...
RATING: *** out of ****.
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