Originally filmed and released publicly in 1973 under the title "The No Mercy Man". It was later distributed as "Trained to Kill" in 1975 to mostly drive-in movie theaters as a 2nd run feature. Forgotton about , It eventually surfaced on video in the mid 1980's as "Trained to Kill USA" during the video craze. See more »
Ballad of Olie Hand
Written and Performed by Chris Christian See more »
Troubled Vietnam vet movies were a dime a dozen in the mid-'70s, which is about what most of them were worth. This movie's plot is similar to many of those others, but with one crucial difference--this time the vet isn't a murderous, unbalanced mental case raping and killing his way across the country. Steve Sandor plays a returning vet who just wants to take up his life before the army and forget everything that he saw in Vietnam, but when his small desert town is overtaken by a murderous gang of biker thugs, he is forced to call some of his ex-army buddies and take action. Sandor--a large, powerfully built actor previously known mostly for supporting roles in biker flicks--plays the troubled young man, and does a very good job. He gives the character some dimension, and doesn't play the man as a bully waiting for his chance to kick some butt--which, given Sandor's size and intimidating presence, he could well have done. Instead, Sandor plays him more like a gentle giant who wants to take up his life back with his family, and it really works.
The action scenes are very well handled, which isn't usually the case in low-budget films of this nature. Director Daniel Vance (or his stunt coordinator) does an excellent job in the various fights and brawls leading up to the final battle at the film's end, and it's a good one. Slow-motion action scenes, a la "The Wild Bunch," were still the rage back in the mid-'70s, and Vance falls victim to this style, but it's used sparingly enough so as not to be distracting or frustrating, as it can be when it goes on for too long. The film appears to have been shot in the Southwest, possibly Arizona or the California desert, and good use is made of the desert locations. There's a larger cast than usual for this kind of picture--apparently the filmmakers had a lot of friends they used as extras, as the small desert town this film was shot in doesn't appear to be able to support as many people as appear in it.
Altogether, a neat little action picture, quite well done (I know of no other film director Vance has made, which is a shame considering how good this one turned out), good acting, a different twist to a familiar story. A good way to spend an hour or so. Recommended.
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