Hired to Kill (1990) Arrow Video Blu-ray Review
Mercenary, Frank Ryan, played by Brian Thompson (Cobra, X-Files) is a no frills badass that doesn’t take shit from anyone. He is hired by an old associate, played by George Kennedy (Naked Gun, Cool Hand Luke), to lead a team to travel to Cypra and rescue a prisoner. This mission is unlike any other mission that frank has carried out; he will have to pose as a gay fashion designer and his team will be seven lethal ladies posing as fashion models. When Frank and his team arrive they are faced with a rather unusual and ruthless leader, Michael Baratos, played by Oliver Reed (Venom, The Brood). Together, Frank and his team reap chaos on all whom cross them.
Every time I watch a Nico Mastorakis movie he moves up a few places on my list of favorite directors. This movie has everything you could want in an early 90’s over the top action flick. It has a freakishly muscly leading man who frequently isn’t wearing a shirt, lots of guns, nudity and explosions, and some insanely ridiculous lines. There is also Oliver Reed, with one of the best mustaches in the history of cinema.
This movie really puts a spotlight on the fact that Brian Thompson should have stared in more cheesy action pictures. He really shines in the role and it would have been great to see him mugging in the lead of action films. The movie also highlights Nico Mastorakis’ ability to make the best of every penny of his relatively small budget. Granted this is a larger budget than Mr. Mastorakis was used to, it wasn’t much compared to more popular action movies of the era. And even with the non-stellar budget, he managed to make it look as good as movies with twice the money.
Another thing I like about this movie is how they handled Frank Ryan pretending to be gay. They really could have played it as offensive but Instead of him acting like a stereotypical effeminate gay guy, he was just gay. He acted the same as before but now he just pretended to like men. The only time his homosexuality comes into play is an incredible scene with Oliver Reed, where they end up kissing. So I give props to Mr. Mastorakis for keeping it classy.
As we’ve become accustom to, Arrows new 2K restoration of the film looks incredible. The restoration was approved by Mr. Mastorakis so I guess we can expect great quality. The blu-ray also features an audio commentary with the editor of the film, Barry Zeltin, an interview with Brian Thompson, the film trailer, still gallery, reversible cover sleeve, original screenplay and a fully illustrated booklet with new writing by critic James Oliver. But of all the special features, by far the best is “Hired to Direct” which is an almost half hour long featurette of Nico Mastorakis talking about the making of the film. The featurette is very informative and interesting and you really get the idea of how much he cares about his films. I really could watch Mr. Mastorakis talk about his movies all day.
This movie is a must for any fan of cheesy action movies, Nico Mastorakis or Arrow Video because it really showcases all three areas. I really hope that Arrow continues to release more of Nico Mastorakis’ movies and it’d be really swell if they did a box set with some of his lesser-known titles and included an entire bonus disc of interviews with him. So go buy a copy and watch it ASAP.