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>
Film-maker William Lustig had made a sleeper in the shape of "Relentless" in 1989, but also that year he did the worthwhile 80s low-budget revenge thriller "Hit List" which kind of went by unnoticed between the "Maniac Cop" features. A mafia boss Luca organises for his hit-man to get rid of a witness Frank who's under police custody, but the guy takes out the wrong people and kidnaps the wrong son. The husband Mark comes home to find his friend dead, his pregnant wife injured and his son gone. The FBI wants Luca to believe he has the witness's son, so their witness can testify, but this means putting Mark behind bars until that happens. Overhearing the plans, Mark flees and kidnaps Frank in the hope of tracking down his son.
"Hit List" is a gritty urban action thriller that is as systematic as you can get, but director Lustig does a competently slick job and the mouth-watering cast he had at his disposal simply aimed up. Jan-Michael Vincent, Lance Henriksen, Leo Rossi, Charles Napier, Rip Torn, Ken Learner and Harold Sylvester. Henriksen is ultimately unforgettable as the deadly hit-man, who also happens to be a shoe salesman by trade. Would you dare ask for a discount? Not when you see this guy in his grove. Vincent goes about things in very hardened manner and Rossi is in good form as the humorous wise-guy. An excellent Napier gives a crusty turn as the FBI agent and Torn gives his Mafia boss plenty of fire and weight. The cast are excellent and they needed to be, as the pulpy plot was too basic and somewhat unspectacular even with its calculative suspense and tough brutality (a shootout in a kid's laser zone, where everyone just goes about their business?!). It doesn't entirely go all-out, as the hardy script does take its time for the character's to some degree open up with a bit of drama. Lustig's taut style suited the inventively agile photography and the go-for-broke stunt-work and stunt-car driving provided some fatal excitement in its absurd climax.
"Hit List" is a gratuitously neat little action joint, which doesn't ask much of your time.
"Maybe it's your world, but it's my kid".
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