One of the great American martial arts cult films of the 1980’s has the perfect tagline and adds a twist to the story.
Joseph Lawrence is an electronics company owner whose world is rocked upside down one night when an attack at his home results in him being in a wheelchair and his wife is killed. Joseph then asks his best friend, Larry Pearson, to assemble their old team from the days of Vietnam. A flashback reveals that as prisoners of war, Joseph, Larry, K.C., Pete, Alan, Tommy, and Arthur were forced to stop near a mine field. Joseph nearly sacrificed himself while the rest were able to stop the Viet Cong and successfully made their escape.
Larry finds Alan, who stops a group who attempted to cheat him out of money. Together they find K.C., who has become a local pimp. The trio finds Tommy, who works as a gardener. Pete is a construction worker while Arthur has become a con man attempting to sell an attempt on pet bugs. They get information that a rival electronics company led by a man named Dutch may be responsible for Joseph’s attack. Finding only one lead, the team splits up to get intel and fight their way to get that intel. However, as they get closer, they become hunted by a mysterious sniper and they are picked off one by one. Is Dutch the mysterious sniper and who will be left when it is all said and done?
This 1980’s B-movie, made at the wake of the American martial arts film genre spearheaded by the likes of Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris, is quite a rarity that not much was known about it until recently, when a few years back, the film aired on SpikeTV and a fan of the film from Norway had created an official website for the film, including interviews with cast and crew, which has since been missing in action. The film definitely has its cult value with its core cast using martial arts to take on their opponents.
Jéan Glaudé is pretty good as the leader of the team, Larry. A real-life former veteran trained in martial arts, he proves himself pretty well and perhaps has the best acting ability of the film. Jeff Risk’s Joseph, the former commander of the team, has his voice dubbed by Gilligan Island’s Professor himself, Russell Johnson. Why Risk didn’t dub his voice remains a mystery to this day. The rest of the Kill Squad do have some pretty decent skills, notably Francisco Ramirez and Gary Fung, the latter who also served as the film’s main fight choreographer. For some of these actors, this would be their only film and others, such as veteran Cameron Mitchell (who passed way in 1994) and lead Glaudé, would still continue success in other forms of media, such as television and stage.
What helps the film is the major twist in that as the team gets closer, each one is killed off by a mysterious masked sniper. In a way, it helps take away the normality of this genre of action film. To show respect for the dead, the survivors will grab the dog tags of the deceased. While the film ultimately becomes predictable, the fact that it is get the lead, fight to get the info, and either they get the information before death or in some cases, death before the information makes for a good twist to the storyline.
Kill Squad is actually a decent early 80’s American martial arts cult classic. The tagline fits perfectly, has the hit me, hit you riff, and the twist of the mysterious sniper while predictable still breaks for the norm. Definitely worth a look.
WFG RATING: B-
A Summa Vista Pictures production. Director:Patrick G. Donahue. Producers: Michael D. Lee and Patrick G. Donahue. Writer: Patrick G. Donahue. Cinematography: Christopher W. Stratten. Editing: Richard C. Mann and Rick Yacco.
Cast: Jéan Glaudé, Jeff Risk, Jerry Johnson, Francisco Ramirez, Bill Cambra, Gary Fung, Marc Sabin, Cameron Mitchell, Alan Marcus, Mike Donahue, Sean P. Donahue, Patrick G. Donahue,