REVIEW: Project Kill (1975)

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1975, Mid-America Pictures/Audio Film Enterprises

Director:
William Girdler
Producers:
Fred C. Soriano Jr.
David Sheldon
Writers:
David Sheldon (story)
Donald G. Thompson (screenplay)
Cinematography:
Frank Johnson
Editing:
Terence Anderson
Chuck McClelland

Cast:
Leslie Nielsen (John Trevor)
Gary Lockwood (Frank Lassiter)
Nancy Kwan (Lee Su)
Vic Silayan (Chief Inspector Cruz)
Vic Diaz (Alok Lee)
Galen Thompson (Carl Wagner)
Maurice Downs (Hook)
Carlos Salazar (Inspector Ortiz)
Pamela Parsons (Lynn Walker)

Before he became known for his comedies, the late Leslie Nielsen stars in this action film shot in the Philippines.

For six years, John Trevor has been training a special team of military operatives who would be hired to become government hitmen. The key to their superiority over others is that they would be enhanced with vitamins and injections that combine enhanced stamina and mind control. However, after six years, John has learned that his former trainees would end up becoming professional assassins, something that goes against his morals. With the intention to leave, he admits his worry to his second in command, Frank Lassiter, who thinks the program is fine as is.

Trevor eventually makes his escape and heads to the Philippines with a suitcase, where he intends to meet with some old friends of his, Carl and Hook. It is there where John begins to go through withdrawals from the enhanced medications, resulting in him undergoing a change to become violent and dangerous. Lassiter has been summoned by the government to bring Trevor while a local criminal boss named Alok Lee also has plans for Trevor, with the intent to duplicate the drug and training so he can create his own deadly force to take over the area.

While the late Leslie Nielsen is best known today for his work with the Zucker Brothers in films like Airplane and the Naked Gun films, based on their hit series Police Squad, Nielsen has done other types of films. This action film, shot in the Philippines sees Nielsen in a very different light. While he is given top billing in his role of John Trevor, Nielsen ultimately plays an anti-hero. While his intentions are good to get out of the government experiment due to the recent result of trainees becoming assassins, it is his withdrawals that turn him into something he never thought he could play.

In essence, there are no real heroes in this film with the exception of perhaps the Filipino police. Gary Lockwood’s Frank Lassiter may seem like he could be the hero as he is the one sent to track down Trevor. However, it is because he agrees and supports the experiments that people may not agree with him on that. They may agree more with Trevor’s morals on this one, but the fact the withdrawals turn him into a violent man show a level of extremity for Trevor while Lassiter is just doing his job. Nancy Kwan’s Lee Su is a pretty good love interest for Trevor as she seems sometimes as if she is able to help him control his rage, but in one scene accidentally finds herself accidentally hit by Trevor in one of his rages.

While the story is quite interesting, it is the low budget filmmaking and action, if you want to call it that, that ultimately dooms the film. Filipino stunt team D’Venture Stunts with Romeo Blanco as stunt coordinator resort to having Nielsen and Lockwood use some form of martial arts against both the criminal organization led by the always fun to watch Vic Diaz, but in the final confrontation between Nielsen and Lockwood. The Filipino stunt boys look good when they fight but it is safe to say Nielsen did the right thing taking the comedy route, because he does look pretty bad when he is attempting to use martial arts. The final confrontation is pretty laughable and has ridiculous slow motion and moves reminiscent of a Karate Warrior film.

Project: Kill is a pretty ridiculous low-budget action film that wastes what is an interesting storyline. This should only be seen by those who are curious to see what Leslie Nielsen did before finding his true calling as a comic actor.

WFG RATING: D

DVD

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