Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 3rd, 2016
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1990
Directors: Nico Mastorakis, Peter Rader
Writers: Fred Perry, Kirk Ellis, Nico Mastorakis
Cast: Brian Thompson, Oliver Reed, George Kennedy, José Ferrer, Michelle Moffett, Barbara Niven, Jordana Capra
BluRay released: May 16th, 2016 (UK) / May 17th, 2016 (USA)
Approximate running time: 96 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 18 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 English, LPCM Stereo English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Video USA
Region Coding: Region Free / Region Free NTSC
Retail Price: $39.95 (USA) / £17.99 (UK)
Hired to Kill was co-written and directed by Nico Mastorakis whose other notable films include, Island of Death and Zero Boys. Key collaborators on Hired to Kill include, cinema cinematographer Andreas Bellis (Thriller: A Cruel Picture, Second Coming of Eva) and editor Barry Zetlin (Galaxy of Terror, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama).
Content wise, there is more than a passing resemblance to the film The Magnificent Seven. With the “seven” this time around being female, instead of male. Also this film borrows many elements that have since become synonymous with the bombastic action films from the 1980’s.
Narrative wise, there is an air of predictability to the story at hand and this has to do with this film retreading all too familiar territory. And when it comes to the characters they are one dimensional caricatures that are all but devoid of any sympathy. Also this film is at its best when it comes to its more action oriented moments. With the more dramatic moments serving as not much more than stop gaps between the aforementioned action set pieces.
The performances in the film are best described as adequate. With this film’s strongest performance coming from its leading man Brian Thompson (Cobra, The X-Files) in the role of Frank Ryan. Though he more that fits the bill when it comes to action hero. It is ultimately moments where his character is undercover as a gay fashion designer that he far exceeds expectations. With the scene where his character kisses Oliver Reed’s character being this film’s most memorable moment. Other notable performances include, José Ferrer (Cyrano de Bergerac) in the role of Rallis, the rebel leader the mercenaries are trying to free from his captors and Oliver Reed (The Party’s Over, The Devil’s) in the role of Michael Bartos, the ruthless dictator standing in the mercenary’s way. Overall Hired to Kill is fast paced action extravaganza that fans of 1980’s action cinema should thoroughly enjoy.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD 5.1 mix in English and a LPCM stereo mix in English. Both audio mixes sound, clean, clear and balanced. With the LPCM stereo mix offering the more dynamic audio experience of these two audio mixes. Also included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles.
Extras for this release include, a stills gallery, a trailer for the film (2 minutes 50 seconds), an interview with actor Brian Thompson titled Undercover Mercenary (17 minutes 33 seconds), an interview with director Nico Mastorakis titled Hired to Direct (27 minutes 26 seconds) and an audio commentary with editor Barry Zetlin.
Topics discussed in the interview with Brian Thompson include, how he got into acting, Terminator his first feature film, how he got cast in the lead role for Hired to Kill, the difference between being the lead in a film and supporting character in a film, Peter Rader and why he was replaced by Nico Mastorakis, Oliver Reed and on set memories, the dangers of stunt work and the helicopter crashed during the making of this film and how this film has since gained a cult following.
Topics discussed in the interview with Nico Mastorakis include, the origins of the film and why they choose to shoot the film in a fictions country, the highs and lows of working with Oliver Reed, this film’s release history, José Ferrer and how he learned seven pages of dialog in ten minutes, how a tragic helicopter crash affected cast & crew, Joe Viskocil and the special effects, director Peter Rader and why Nico Mastorakis decided to co-director the film with him and his thoughts on the final product.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, what peaked his interest in making movies, how he began his career editing documentary’s, Roger Corman and his transition to feature films and working with Nico Mastorakis. Content wise, this audio commentary is essentially a retrospective of the films he was on as an editor.
Rounding out the extras is the original screenplay entitled Freedom or Death (BD /DVD-Rom content), a reversible cover art option and a twenty-four-page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay about the film titled Mercenary Tactics: The Dirty Deeds and Mischief Making of Hired to Kill written by James Oliver and information about the transfer. Also included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall another exceptional release from Arrow Video.