The last effort of Fernando Di Leo as a director didn't exactly become the honorable swan-song he deserved, as the film is unimaginably insecure and it didn't even get released in its home country of Italy. The reason(s) why, however, is beyond me, as "Killer vs. Killers" is a thoroughly enjoyable, action-paced and straightforward thriller with some above average acting performances, cool gimmicks and a bit of sleaze. The film can be described best as some sort of attempt to remake John Huston's film-noir classic "The Asphalt Jungle", in which a group of unrelated criminals successfully pull off a complicated heist, but eventually the whole plan goes awry due to double-crossing and betrayal. Even more than a remake, Di Leo wanted to do a tribute to Huston's film, as the plot differs once the heist is completed (and "Killer vs. Killers turns into an old-fashioned tale of revenge) and Di Leo names his characters after the stars that played in the original, like Sterling and Jaffe. A team of five outlaws, each with a specific skill, is hired to steal the formula for synthetic fuel from a military research plant and subsequently destroy the place with explosives. Once the job is completed and the reward has been paid, his Excellency (Edmund Purdom) nevertheless sends his men to kill off the team, but the two remaining members fight back. The script of "Killer vs. Killers" is rudimentary and entirely without surprises, and therefore it isn't nearly as brilliant as some of Di Leo's exploitation/crime-classics of the early seventies, such as "The Boss", "Manhunt" or "Milano Calibro.9" Those flicks had extremely convoluted plots and intelligent political undertones, whereas this is merely an undemanding & exciting time-waster. Fans of euro-violence will still love it, though! The film is literally stuffed with car-explosions, violent executions and massive artillery. Henry Silva once again gives image to an ultimately relentless and stone-cold hit man. His character owns a personal zoo (and uses cheetahs and hawks as murder weapons!) and he literally blows his opponents to pieces with a bazooka! The musical score is terrific, Dalila Di Lazzaro makes the perfect eye-candy and there's quite a bit of black humor in the script as well. Overall, "Killer vs. Killers" may not be a brilliant piece of Italian film-making and nothing you haven't seen a dozen times before, but it guarantees entertainment and a decent farewell from one of the most important Italian cult directors ever. The film is available on DVD together in one box with the phenomenal "Il Boss" from Nocturno.
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