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It's too bad that a solid cast of character actors working with a
genre director can't quite improve upon, or merely disguise, their lead's
mumbly, slurring performance. I remember seeing the film and wondering
so much of Jan-Michael Vincent's acting was dubbed, and why there were so
many single shots of him by himself, the other actors being cut in for
individual lines of dialogue, etc.
According to director William Lustig, Vincent was so inebriated they oftentimes had to just prop him up in some of the master shots and let the other actors "act around" the poor guy. One scene he's even lying down on a backyard bench.
If anything, it gives Lance Henriksen more room to chew up a lot of scenery, and then, of course, there's the stunts. Lots and lots of them. This is one movie that doesn't necessarily make you disappreciate dynamic car pursuits, but the tire squealing is enough to make you don headphones and listen to good heavy metal for the duration of the chases, especially the parking structure one.
All in all, it's a watchable movie. I especially like one of Vincent's decipherable lines (one that he repeats quite a few times) "But he's got my kid!!" because he says it with about as much despair as if he'd just ran out of cigarettes.
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, Abe Fasio (Jack Andreozzi) 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 ****.
"Hit List" is a perfectly acceptable little actioner. Anyone who has seen a fair amount of action pics will agree that the quality of this movie is average, and not nearly as low as it often gets in this genre. An extremely untalented lead is a major disappointment here, but the good supporting roles (particularly a colorful Torn, who seems to slightly imitate De Niro's version of Al Capone from "The Untouchables") make up for that. The script is ordinary, and gets far-fetched at the end, but the slick production values keep the film watchable.
This hide and seek drama between the police with mob witnesses and the mob hit men who want to kill them, is played for maximum excitement and maximum stunt work in "Hit List". Even though Jan-Michael Vincent and Leo Rossi have top billing, it is Lance Henriksen and Charles Napier who carry the film. Rip Torn is the mob boss who sends an unhinged Henriksen after F.B.I. witness, Rossi. When the hit goes wrong and Vincent's son is kidnapped, all hell breaks loose. Seeing Lance Henriksen selling womens shoes is worth the ticket price by itself. Throw in some intense action, while throwing out most logic, and you pretty much have the idea. .................................. - MERK
William Lustig certainly knows how to direct a gritty city based
thriller; he succeeded admirably with the fantastically entertaining
Maniac Cop series, and while Hit List isn't quite as memorable - it's
still more than entertaining enough, and I'm sure any fan of Lustig's
work won't regret tracking it down. It's slightly more serious overall
than the majority of the rest of Lustig's filmography, although the
director still manages to find time for some humour, and while the
action isn't exactly groundbreaking - the film is, at least, not boring
for a minute. The basis for the plot focuses on Vic Luca; a big-mouthed
mob boss who is set to appear in court for his crimes. However, given
his powers as the head of a criminal organisation, it's not difficult
for him to track down and kill all the witnesses; much to the dismay of
hard-bitten cop Tom Mitchum, who wants to see Luca rot in jail. The
plot thickens when Luca's assassin Chris Caleek goes to kill witness
Frank DeSalvo and ends up getting the wrong house, and kidnapping
ordinary man Jack Collins' son...
William Lustig has put together a good cast for this film, with the likes of Lance Henriksen standing out the most and getting good support from memorable actors such as Charles Napier, Rip Torn, Jan-Michael Vincent and Leo Rossi. As he showed with the Maniac Cop films, Lustig certainly has an eye for atmosphere and this film revels in the same gritty urban feel as the earlier films did. I've got to say that I'm surprised this film isn't better known really; it may not have quite the same appeal that Maniac Cop did, but it's great fun and makes for easy viewing. The characters are all drawn in an intriguing manner, as no two are similar and thanks to the cast of character actors - all manage to be memorable in their own right. The film obviously had budget constraints as there's not a great deal of action sequences, and the ones that do feature aren't exactly over the top; but Lustig makes good use of his assets, and Hit List could have been a lot worse. It all boils down to a conclusion that isn't hard to see coming, but its good fun getting there and overall, I won't hesitate to recommend this film to anyone who can find it.
Hit List is an action film that has enough suspense and predictability to keep you on the edge of your seat and cheering at the same time. The story is about a mistaken identity murder and kidnapping that turns Jan-Michael Vincent from caring father, to an unstoppable killing machine. Like all action movies, there are points that are totally ridiculous, but the movie as a whole was adventurous and fun. Action film fanatics are sure to enjoy.
Hit List is a great 80s action film that has an all star cast!Jan-Michael Vincent was good,Leo Rossi played his role good!Lance Henriksen was incredible!Charles Napier was good as always!Rip Torn was awesome as He reminded Me of Jack Nicholson!The movie Hit List is a dang good one!It is one of those special movies of the 1980s!It has a ton of action through out the film and it has a very aggressive approach toward violence!The story is good,the cast is excellent,the acting is great,the action is totally superb,the music is unique,and the entire film is special!I strongly recommend this film!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Vic Luca (Torn) is a John Gotti-like mob boss who is going to be
convicted in court - if his mob underlings can testify. But Luca sends
a shoe salesman/psychopathic hit man, Caleek (Henriksen) to kill them
so they can't spill the beans. Purely by chance, Caleek invades the
home of innocent man Jack Collins (Vincent), intent on killing him,
believing him to be potential informant Frank DeSalvo (Rossi). DeSalvo
is being protected before the trial by Tom Mitchum (Napier), an FBI
agent on the edge, in a house across the street. When Caleek kidnaps
Collins' son and puts his wife in the hospital - and Luca's goons cross
DeSalvo as well - the two guys create an unlikely partnership to get
Why is this movie so under-appreciated and unrecognized? If you said to someone "Oh, I watched Hit List last night", more than likely, they would say, "Huh?" That's unfortunate, as a movie with the star quality this movie has, directed by William Lustig SHOULD be a well-known "video store classic" as we say. Maybe now that can start to be corrected.
Here we get to see Lance Henriksen as you really want to see him - in a very meaty role as an incredibly brutal bad guy. It's truly "Lance Unleashed" as he has an evil beret and an evil crossbow/grappling hook/zipline, as well as some nasty martial arts moves. Leo Rossi is also memorable as DeSalvo, a man who still believes in the codes of honor of the mafia - at least for a while. Vincent mainly just says "Gimme back my son" many times, which, of course, predates Ransom (1996). Rip Torn, who doesn't often appear in movies like this, puts in an off-kilter, energetic role. Even Charles Napier gets to flex some muscle.
But, by far, the two best things about Hit List are 1. This movie is really politically incorrect - it was made in a time before PC stuff existed and it's really beautiful to watch. Thank God things like this were preserved for posterity. and 2. the scene in the Photon arcade. (For those that don't know, Photon was a competitor to Laser Tag, and in some places was replaced by Q-Zar, where kids run around with laser guns and shoot each other). Another awesome preservation.
In all, Hit List is an enjoyable film with a nice pace with a lot of familiar faces. What's not to like?
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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Hit List" is a stellar example to illustrate that an incredibly simplistic and derivative plot concept can nevertheless still result in a compelling and exhilarating little movie as long as the right people are involved. When we were out movie hunting, my mate and I didn't hesitate for a second when we found this late 80's thriller on VHS. We didn't immediately recognize the title, but it would be really stupid to leave behind a movie directed by William Lustig (almighty creator of the "Maniac Cop"-trilogy and the infamous video nasty "Maniac") and starring B-movie icons Charles Napier ("Supervixens", "Body Count"), Rip Torn ("Coma", "Beastmaster"), Jan-Michael Vincent ("Damnation Alley", The Mechanic") and Lance Henriksen ("Mansion of the Doomed", "Near Dark"). And although we were already satisfied with the discovery of the tape alone, the film itself definitely offers decent albeit modest entertainment. Mafia boss Vic Luca orders his best hit man to eliminate a former associate who's about to witness against him in court, but due to a banal misunderstanding the killer relentlessly wipes out the wrong family and takes an innocent kid hostage. The boy's father fights back whilst the obsessive copper Tom Mitchum continues to try and bring the essential witness to court. The screenplay relies on a couple of tiresome and even embarrassing clichéd prime aspects, such as upside down house numbers causing confusion and model house fathers turning into avenging angels, but the surefooted direction and devoted performances make you overlook all this. Also, even though the primary story lines are mundane and familiar, the plot contains enough little surprise twists and imaginative gimmicks to keep even the more skeptical viewer satisfied. The villainous characters are incredibly well worked out, like Rip Torn's boisterous and obnoxious imitation of Al Capone for example. Most effective and even downright petrifying character is Lance Henriksen's psychotic hit man. He appears to be a sympathetic shoe salesman, but that's only until he receives a new assignment and then literally mutates into a cold-blooded and jeopardizing monster with a tattooed back and creepy eyes. "Hit List" isn't very gore, but there's nevertheless quite a bit of suggestive cruelty, like head being crushed between prison cell doors or burned in pizza ovens. The finale is tremendously spectacular and grotesquely absurd at the same time, with a wild showdown inside a parking garage. Jan-Michael Vincent's performance as the civilian hero is arguably quite wooden, but Rip Torn, Lance Henriksen and Charles Napier are fantastic. The latter even gives away one of his best performances ever as the frustrated cop determined to end the mafia business in his district once and for all.
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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