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Programmed to Kill (1987)

R | | Sci-Fi, Action | April 1987 (USA)
A middle eastern female terrorist is captured by the CIA in Greece, after an attack on a marketplace. Transported back to the USA, the terrorist undergoes an operation where she is ... See full summary »


Robert Short


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Ginty ... Eric Mathews
Sandahl Bergman ... Samira
James Booth James Booth ... Brock
Alex Courtney ... Blake
Paul Walker ... Jason (as Paul W. Walker)
Louise Caire Clark Louise Caire Clark ... Sharon
Peter Bromilow ... Donovan
George Fisher ... Mike
Jim Turner ... Chris
Bill Allard Bill Allard ... Assistant Surgeon
Chaim Banai ... Racehorse
Liliana Cameroni Liliana Cameroni ... Nurse
Dan Coffey Dan Coffey ... Assistant Doctor
Jason Cornado Jason Cornado ... Chuck
John Gillespie John Gillespie ... Soldier


A middle eastern female terrorist is captured by the CIA in Greece, after an attack on a marketplace. Transported back to the USA, the terrorist undergoes an operation where she is transformed into a cybernetic killing machine. Now the CIA have a secret weapon to send back to the Middle East, but how long can they control her? Written by Humberto Amador

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


She's programmed to kill. He's got every reason to stop her. Neither of them have any choice.


Sci-Fi | Action


R | See all certifications »






Release Date:

April 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Retaliator See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



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Did You Know?


Also known as "The Retaliator." See more »


When Samira starts to malfunction and "turn bad" after killing Hussein, she has flashbacks of previous events through her memory system. However, these flashbacks are presented to Dr Brock and the technicians as "live feed" through her surveillance system (as if looking through her own eyes, with what she sees being what they see), and several of the flashbacks are shown from the actual camera angles of the film, in third person, rather than through Samira's eyes/cameras, which is impossible. See more »


Eric Mathews: There... sure... is... something... going... haywire... here!
See more »


References The Yogi Bear Show (1961) See more »

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User Reviews

You can't control women, let alone cyborg women
1 February 2015 | by CoventrySee all my reviews

Some five years ago, around the time of his untimely and unfortunate death, my movie buddy and I watched quite a lot of trashy Robert Ginty B-movies such as "Warrior of the Lost World", "White Fire" and – of course – "The Exterminator". We watched them as a tribute to Ginty, but obviously also because they always guarantee low-brained and ultra-violent entertainment. It's too bad that we couldn't get our filthy little hands on "Programmed to Kill" back then, because this also would have made a great installment for a Robert Ginty theme night. Although, in all fairness, it isn't Robert Ginty who steals the show here, but cult wench Sandahl Bergman. Also known as "The Retaliator", the plot is highly derivative of "The Terminator" (and arguably also of "Robocop", but it looks as if this film got released slightly earlier the same year) but correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think anyone is looking for originality or groundbreaking new story lines in an '80s actioner like this! Although a rather blatant rip- off, the script is nonetheless engaging and fast-paced, with plenty of gratuitous violence and cheesy dialogs. Bergman stars as Samira, a terrorist from the Middle East most wanted by the CIA because she herself is dangerous and because she's engaged to the brain of the terrorist organization. Together with her posse, Samira kills a bunch of tourists in Lebanon and takes two young American children hostage, but the CIA recruits mercenary Eric Mathews to set things right. The heavily wounded Samira is brought back to the States, but there she's secretly transformed into a cyborg and programmed to serve as a weapon against her former friends. This all goes well at first, but Samira's new circuits quickly go haywire and she turns against her masters. Once again, the reluctant Eric Mathews is brought in to save the day. "The Retaliator" – I actually prefer that title – is definitely a lot of fun while it lasts and features a couple of reasonably impressive and well-staged action sequences/stunts. In my personal favorite scene, Samira calls a CIA boss and kills him through shouting in the horn until his ears bleed. The climax is also quite exciting with a massive amount of explosions, machinery action and POV executions through cyborg-vision! Admittedly the film also won't make an everlasting impression and suffers from a few dull and pointless sub plots, like Mathews' troubled family situation. By the way, Ginty's teenage son Jason is played by Paul Walker – who also sadly passed away already – in one of his very first roles.

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