Starring Ammara Siripong, Tim Man, Gordon Liu, Johnny Messner, Joe Lewis, Erik Markus Schuetz, Rashid Phoenix, Brahim Achabbakhe
Fight Choreography by Tim Man
Directed by Raimund Huber
Kill ’Em All tosses a group of assassins in a Mortal Kombat-style tournament–in a warehouse. As the film begins we get to meet each of the assassins as they carry out their latest jobs, and then we get to see how each of them is captured, and in the case of the assassin known as The Kid (Man) he gets to see his girlfriend killed before he is knocked out. When he wakes up he finds he is in a dingy room with Som (Siripong), a female killer who has a more mysterious reason for being there, Gabriel (Messner) an explosives assassin who is also suicidal, Mickey (Phoenix) a young assassin who has no concept of right and wrong, Carpenter (Lewis) whom they never explain at all, Schmidt (Schuetz), a foul loudmouth, and Takab (Achabbakhe), an all around killer. They are being held by Snakehead (Liu) who works for a crime consortium, who has captured them for sport, and to wipe them out, since they are all seen as the competition. The assassins begin by killing each other, and then team up to take down Snakehead…
…and that’s it. The story is as simple as it comes, and the premise of a group of assassins having to fight in a tournament is a good plot device, if you have the budget to pull it off, which they did not. The majority of the film takes place in a factory/warehouse setting, and it even seems as if some of the sets repeat themselves. The main problem here is with the characters and actor themselves. The characters don’t have enough character to root for them. Gabriel is suicidal, but why? It’s never explained, and his actions later in the film don’t match the character presented at the start of the film. Som has ulterior motives, but you don’t find out until toward the end of the film, so there is no dramatic impact when things reveal themselves. The Kid has the most sympathetic story, but it’s all surface no substance. I mentioned the other characters, but I really needn’t have. The late Joe Lewis is wasted here, as is Erik Markus Schuetz (Blood Ties). Most of the assassins are killed off within the first fifteen minutes. Gordon Liu (or as we like to call him around here, The Greatness) chews up the screen as the evil villain, and even gives that cool Shaw Brothers villain laugh. The talent assembled for the film has the martial arts skills (except for Messner) but the acting (save for Gordon Lui) just isn’t very good, and not enough to carry this film. I imagine it must have cost a pretty penny to hire Gordon Liu, but I wonder if it would have been better spent on better, varied locations and more time given to punch up the script. Director Raimund Huber (Bangkok Adrenaline) does a competent job, but it’s hard to tell with the budget and acting skills given. He shoots the fights well enough, but they are still edited to hell.
The fight choreography by Tim Man matches the film, in that it’s a lot a fancy moves, but with the exception of a few moments here and there has no rhythm to it. Except for one part, and that was at the end, which was impressive as he and Siripong (the Mom from Chocolate) took on Gordon Lui. Gordon showed that he can still rock a good fight scene, and does so here. I’m not sure if this was Gordon’s last film prior to his stroke, but he accounted for himself well here despite his age. The late Joe Lewis also showed, for the last time, that he too could go toe to toe with the young’uns.
Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 5
Kill ‘Em All has problems that begin with the script and extends to the budget, and thus cannot escape being a simply mediocre film that wastes the talents used in it.
NEXT: Kiai-Kick in 2013…and beyond.