PROJECT: KILL (1976)
Director: William Girdler
Starring: Leslie Nielsen (John Trevor), Gary Lockwood (Frank Lassiter), Nancy Kwan (Lee Su), Vic Diaz (Alok Lee), Pamela Parsons (Lynn Walker)
Music: Robert O. Ragland
Transfer Quality: Miserable
Mr. Lassiter: Stand! What’s your project?!?
Troops (in unison): Kill!
Mr. Lassiter: Again!
Troops (in unison): Kill!
A film that is truly as brilliant as its title!
I was in a rush downloading stuff to watch on a long flight, and I was lucky that this one got snared in the net. Actually, I almost turned this off a couple minutes in because it opens with a nighttime fight scene made practically invisible by the terrible transfer… just lots of white cuffs and collars flying around in the dark. However, the over-the-top hand-to-hand combat and man in flames emerging from an exploding jeep convinced me that I needed to tough this one out…and It was so worth it! Although William Girdler (The Manitou, Three on a Meathook) and cast really phone it in here while on vacation in the Philippines, they accidentally stumble into a masterpiece in the process.
The basic story is that the US military has developed an elite force of super-assassin bodyguards to counter political threats from abroad under the code name, Project: Kill. A surprisingly ripped Leslie Nielsen (Forbidden Planet, Naked Gun), plays it straight here as John Trevor, the commander of the operation, who has grown jaded because of the Project’s increased reliance on drugs and mind control in its quest to develop progressively super-human soldiers. Trevor…that’s Mr. Trevor to you…busts out of the base and makes his way to the Philippines to reunite with two former Kill members who are also, presumably, on the lam. Of course Trevor’s former second-in-command, Gary Lockwood’s Frank Lassiter (2001, Earth II)…that’s Mr. Lassiter to you…and Asian mob kingpin Alok Lee, played by legend of shlock Filipino cinema Vic Diaz (Beast of the Yellow Night, The Big Bird Cage), are in hot pursuit…the former to protect the secrets of the Project and the latter to exploit them. In the meantime, Trevor falls in love with bad transfer-defying beauty Nancy Kwan’s (Flower Drum Song, Wild Affair) Lee Su who must deal with his progressively violent withdrawal from Project: Kill’s drugs and mind control.
Although there are so many happy accidents and details to obsess over in this film: the wooden acting, the cartoonish bad guys, Pamela Parsons’ maladroit Lynn Walker, the sublime performance of Lonely World by Pilita Corrales–it’s the fight scenes that keep you coming back for more. You’ll never see someone overthrow a punch like Gary Lockwood! I kept pausing and replaying them because they were just too good to be believed.
In the end, I’m convinced that the low quality transfer actually adds to the experience of watching Project: Kill. You really have to earn it, but the payoff is big.
Nate Wilson: NW Devon Cahill: DC Heath Row: HR Matt Average: MA