Director: Raimund Huber
Starring: Gordon Liu, Johnny Messner, Tim Man, Ammara Siripong, Jow Lewis
When 8 of the world’s elite assassins are drugged and kidnapped, they awake to find themselves in the Killing Chamber, a complex where they are forced to fight to the death. Through a series of random drawings they slowly whittle their way down to but a few who have come up with a shaky truce to defeat their captors and escape. With time running out and the enemy closing in, can this group of people discover why they were kidnapped and who is responsible? The story is generally a means to an end and that is to get to the fighting. It is a summary you’ve heard multiple times if you’ve seen any sort of 80’s style American martial arts film. While not necessarily a film I was highly anticipating, the fact that it was directed by Raimund Huber who had done Bangkok Adrenaline, a film with some very solid fight scenes, made me curious to view it.
The acting is mostly average and there is generally a sense of malaise that purveys throughout most of the actions’ dialogue. I didn’t mind it, but I was quickly reminded of the American Ninja series of my childhood, it has its place. There are kudos to Johnny Messner who hams it up a bit as the in over his head explosion specialist. His lines are manic and generally added to the fun of the film. The other main leads, Tim Man and Ammara Siripong actually don’t have too much in the way of lines, but they both play a bit of the silent type cliché of badasses. I was quite surprised to see the legendary Joe Lewis in the film, and though he’s definitely aged since his days in the ring, it was great to see what he’s been up to these days. Gordon Liu plays the main villain Snakehead and even gets to tussle a bit with the cast. Though he’s surely lost a step in his old age, he still commands that screen presence that made him a star at Shaw Bros. His character is truthfully a lot of fun; imagine Han from Enter the Dragon crossed with a Bond villain.
The action is solid with Tim Man definitely standing out. He’s played bit parts for years and I’ve typically enjoyed his fight scenes, even if the movie isn’t that good (see Fighting Beat), and I truly think it is time for him to step out and make a name for himself. He’s definitely got the talent and ability to do it, seems to me that it is just a matter of time. He reminds me of Feng Wei, the Tekken video game character in both his technique and power.
On the heels of his flawed yet entertaining Bangkok Adrenaline, Raimund Huber directs this mostly serious action picture. With a diverse cast featuring some legends in martial arts, I wasn’t sure what to expect going into the film. Action packed and kept at a good clip, Kill ‘Em All is a fun if somewhat derivative action film. With solid choreography by Tim Man, who performs some exquisite kicks and techniques in the film, which elevate the film beyond a schlocky tournament film, and good production values, Kill ‘Em All delivers a pretty entertaining film. Not for those who are looking for some depth, the film delivers what the trailer promises; butt-kicking action.
You may enjoy this film if you liked: The Tournament, The Condemned, Blood and Bone and/or Bangkok Knockout.
*Special thanks to Well Go USA for providing a viewing copy!