The Killer Elite (1975) torrent download

The Killer Elite

1975

Action / Crime / Thriller

6

Synopsis

Mike Locken is one of the principal members of a group of freelance spies. A significant portion of their work is for the C.I.A. and while on a case for them, one of his friends turns on him and shoots him in the elbow and knee. His assignment, to protect someone, goes down in flames. He is nearly crippled, but with braces is able to again become mobile. For revenge as much as anything else, Mike goes after his ex-friend.

Director

Sam Peckinpah

Cast

James Caan
as MIke Locken
Robert Duvall
as George Hansen
Arthur Hill
as Cap Collis
Bo Hopkins
as Jerome Miller
Mako
as Yuen Chung
Gig Young
as Lawrence Weyburn

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by FilmFlaneur N/A

Peckinpah's 'curate's egg' provides interesting insights

Peckinpah's 1975 thriller is infuriatingly uneven. It is also one of his most interesting films, throwing the director's preoccupations into relief. It was made between the gothic thriller Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia (1974), and his last great film, Cross Of Iron (1977). As the critic Pauline Kael noted, it was a way of proving himself alive to the Hollywood establishment, a "transparent disguise for... determination to show Hollywood that he's not dead yet... that, despite the tabloid views of him, frail and falling down drunk, he's got the will to make great movies." It's no accident that this is a film in which the director stresses his auteurism with more than the usual self-consciousness (the words 'directed by' and 'Sam Peckinpah' are separated by an emphatic crosscut in the opening credits). Neither that it is one in which the theme of rehabilitation – or, more specifically, recuperation - dominates the dramatic matter in hand, giving the narrative a lopsidedness from which it never really recovers.

Kung Fu plot notwithstanding, at the centre of The Killer Elite is the relationship between Locken (James Caan) and Hansen (Robert Duvall). The shifting balance between two men, who find themselves on opposite sides of the law, recall similar relationships in Ride The High Country (1962), between Steve Judd and Gil Westrum, or in The Wild Bunch (1969), between Pike Bishop and Deke Thornton. "I can't figure why he didn't put the third one in my head," says Locken, brooding in hospital. "He's your buddy," is the characteristic reply. Locken and Hansen may travel further apart than the other examples of broken camaraderie in Peckinpah's work, but their mutual respect remains intact to the end. In the shoot out at the darkened quay, despite his thirst for revenge, Locken walks away from his former partner in disgust and he's not responsible for the final bullet.

The relationship between the two men is what focuses Locken's life and gives his actions perspective. Once his buddy is dead, his character loses all motivation, and then the movie its soul. What's left is a ramshackle kung fu killer plot, which any competent straight-to-video producer could have scribbled down on the back of an envelope. Peckinpah's other films frequently end when the central partnership was irrevocably dissolved. For all of its martial pyrotechnics, The Killer Elite just goes on too long.

The most successful part of the film is contained within the opening third. The first operation, Hansen's initial betrayal (which occurs in a world of surveillance that anticipates The Osterman Weekend, 1983), and the mechanics of Locken's physical reconstruction are, by turn, engrossing. It's a time of development and learning for Locken. From the casual sex of the opening the injured agent has to adjust, restrain his bitterness ("I'll just limp out of here"), and establishes a more permanent relationship with his nurse while on the mend. From embracing a broad, Locken ends up clutching a bedpan, then grasps at any chance to re-establish himself as whole. Peckinpah found delineating the mending processes so engrossing that the belated introduction of Negato Toku (Tak Kubota) as "Godfather of all the ninja assassins," and then Locken's fortuitous assignment to protect Yuen Cheung (Mako) against death within the USA are like dramatic afterthoughts, tellingly summarised in conversation over the airport fight.

These airport scenes, however expertly cut together by the director, are perhaps amongst the most gratuitous scenes of violence in his oeuvre. The fighting is dwelt on purely as a means to patch over a glaring narrative fault line, carrying along some clumsy verbal exposition. It has none of the catharsis, or brutal poetry, familiar from the director's other films. Locken's recuperation has proved a distraction. After his hospital a scene, the belated 'catching up' scene feels at best rushed, at worst intrusive. Worse, we sense Peckinpah is just not as emotionally engaged with martial arts as he is with the matter of the Old West. (A feeling underlined when Locken watches the final ninja swordfight with calculated disinterest, calmly betting on the result.) An obvious sop to those fans who wanted more of the action exemplified in Clouse's Enter The Dragon of two years previously, the kung fu in Peckinpah's film is vigorous, filmed with style, but remains peculiarly unconvincing. Strip away the martial arts and what remains is far more interesting and consistent with Peckinpah's personal philosophy. As in his other films there is a theme running through The Killer Elite, one of honour and the inexorable passing of the old ways. One thinks of the mothballed fleet the scene of the final confrontation, a veritable graveyard of former pride and glory. "You've just been retired Mike, enjoy it," says Hansen after crippling Locken. "You just retired, Cap," echoes Locken in irony, when addressing his traitorous superior at the end. In The Killer Elite, a new order is recognised: that of power systems, none of which care about civilians, or integrity - a recognition enunciated rather surprisingly by the shambling Miller (a scruffy Bo Hopkins). Cap Collins (Arthur Hill) had earlier put these changes more succinctly: "Would you believe that heroism has become old fashioned?" So half-baked and ludicrous is the action plot that much of the film's other pleasure comes from incidentals. The initial friendship between Locken and Hansen for instance, or Miller's girlfriend calling everyone 'Mr Davies'; the editing of the explosive opening sequence; or the bomb-under-the-car scene, ending with the distant explosion (pure comic 'business' rare in Peckinpah); Caan's sensitive performance. Allied to this is Jerry Fielding's score, an outstanding contribution from a composer who worked with the director on several occasions, as well as the acting in support from Peckinpah regulars like Hopkins. In short, The Killer Elite is something of curate's egg, only good in parts but, with all its unsatisfactory elements, still essential viewing for admirers of this director.

Reviewed by barnabyrudge N/A

Lesser Peckinpah offering

I'm a huge fan of Sam Peckinpah's movies and I'm trying to write a comment about them all. However, this is one of the few that I'm less enthusiastic about, simply because it is not up to the high standard usually associated with the director (perhaps the studio tampering is partly to blame for that).

It's a spy flick about a not-very-nice unit of the CIA which tackles all the dirty, gritty jobs that nobody else wants. James Caan and Robert Duvall are in the organisation and are great friends, until Duvall accepts a bribe and tries to blow Caan's head off during an assignment. The rest of the movie follows Caan as he rehabilitates from the injury and sets about gaining his revenge.

The theme of honesty among savages made The Wild Bunch compelling, but here it is used to lesser effect. Peckinpah himself was a disgraced figure in Hollywood with his drug and drink problems at the time that this movie was made, and you often feel that he made it purely to keep working during such a difficult period. There's certainly a shortage of passion and belief in the material.

The best thing about the film is Duvall, but he disappears early and doesn't come back into it until near the end (and then only briefly). It also contains some good martial arts moments, although strictly speaking it is not a martial arts film. Other than that, it is definitely a low point in the Sam Peckinpah canon, and can only be recommended to those who are keen to watch all the director's movies rather than just the best ones.

Reviewed by rixrex N/A

Very good film, but not good for those who want the quick rush...

I have a friend who likes action films, but is not familiar with action films of the 70s. Every time I bring over a 70s flick, like this one, she complains that it's too slow and boring. I tell her that it's because there is a plot and character development that modern action films lack. She doesn't care about that, she just wants to see the action scenes and the violence. This is pretty typical of those who are hooked into music videos and video games that have no plot, no character development, are finished quickly, and exist only for immediate gratification of the need for an adrenaline rush, like one minute carnival rides. If this is what you like, you won't like this film. But if you enjoy good character and story development, you won't be disappointed.

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