411 Movies Top 5 7.25.14: Top 5 Assassin Movies
Posted by Shawn S. Lealos on 07.25.2014
From No Country For Old Men and Pulp Fiction to La Femme Nikita, In the Line of Fire and more, the staff count down their top 5 assassin movies of all-time!
Welcome to Week 436 of the Movie Zone Top 5. My name is Shawn S. Lealos and you have entered my world.
The 411mania writers were given the following instructions: Assassin movies (just movies that involves some kind of plot line with an assassin or hit man - it doesn't even have to be the main plot line)
Honorable Mentions: The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988), The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Assassins (1995), The Killer (1989), Hidden Assassin (1995), Leon: The Professional (1994)
5. Ninja III: The Domination (1984)
The third movie in the Cannon Films "Ninja Trilogy," Ninja III features one of the greatest opening action scenes in action movie history plus one of the best ninja action sequences ever committed to film. The Black Ninja (David Chung) is dead, "murdered" by an army of heavily armed cops trying to stop him from completing his ninja business. But before he "completely" dies in the physical sense the Black Ninja passes his evil ninja magic/spirit to Christie (Lucinda Dickey), a mega hot telephone repairperson/aerobics and health food nut who ends up being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We see Christie try to fight weird urges to dress up like a ninja and kill people, but she eventually succumbs to the black ninja's magic and becomes a master assassin. Only Christie's new cop boyfriend Billy (Jordan Bennett) and good guy ninja assassin Yamada (Sho goddamn Kosugi) can help Christie fight the evil ninja magic. If you haven't seen this movie, what the heck are you waiting for?
4. La Femme Nikita (1990)
Written and directed by Luc Besson, La Femme Nikita helped usher in the modern hip and cool action movie thing that took over most of the action movie world in the 1990's (this movie and pretty much anything John Woo did in the late 1980's). Anne Parillaud is iconic as the homeless girl turned trained spy/assassin Nikita, and the movie's action scenes and general tempo are still some of the best ever within the action genre. The movie is kind of a weird at times, but then it all works in the end so none of that stuff really matters. Nikita was adapted into two TV series and was remade as Point of No Return, directed by the great John Badham and starring Bridget Fonda. Point of No Return is pretty decent all by itself, but it's not quite as good as its source material. The original is still tops.
3. The Evil That Men Do (1984)
Chuck Bronson stars as Holland, a retired assassin who decides to get back into the game to avenge the murder of an old friend by Dr. Molloch (Joseph Mahar), a world renowned mercenary torture doctor that is killing people in Guatemala. Holland is a sort of more pro-active version of Bronson's Paul Kersey character from the Death Wish movies and that makes Holland one of Bronson's most brutal screen personas. When we first meet Holland he's a happy man, living on the beach, surrounded by sunshine and sand. It's kind of weird seeing Bronson happy. But when he decides to get back into the killing game he becomes an unstoppable machine. And it's an awesome movie watching experience. Look out for Raymond St. Jacques as a creepy henchman and Molloch's lesbian sister played by Antoinette Bower. You will never forget them.
2. The Mechanic (1972)
This Chuck Bronson vehicle has Bronson as Bishop, a master assassin with serious emotional problems. While Bishop is still a great and proficient killer the world of killing is slowly destroying him. He's depressed, he's stressed, the man is messed up. We see Bishop take on an apprentice, Steve (Jan-Michael Vincent), the son of a higher up in the secret international criminal scheme that keeps Bishop on its payroll. It's interesting watching Bishop teach Steve the tricks of the trade and Steve then screw everything up. The remake with Jason Statham is pretty awesome, but it isn't as sadistic and sad as the original. The sadness of what Bishop does is what gets to you.
1. In the Line of Fire (1993)
As much as I love Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive, he shouldn't have won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1994. John Malkovich should have won for his performance as crazy assassin Mitch Leary in In the Line of Fire. At first he doesn't seem like much of an adversary for Clint Eastwood's Secret Service agent Frank Horrigan. I mean, sure, Clint is a hundred years old in this movie but he's still Clint goddamn Eastwood. He can take on anyone. But when Leary starts calling Horrigan, taunting him about his past (Horrigan was in JFK's Secret Service detail when he was assassinated), his love life, and his abilities, suddenly Clint isn't so invincible. Clint starts to doubt himself. And then when we see Leary in action, killing random hunters in the woods, fat ladies, and Clint's partner, holy hooey how is Clint's Horrigan going to come out of this alive? This movie still packs a punch twenty one years later and is definitely one of Eastwood's best late career performances. And, again, Malkovich should have won an Oscar for this movie.
Shawn S. Lealos
5. Inglourious Basterds
The assassin in this is the Jew Hunter played by Christophe Waltz. The movie is just a fantastic experience with solid performances all around, including the Oscar winning performance by Waltz. It can even be argued that Brad Pitt's platoon of soldiers are assassins in their own rights, Pitt a Nazi Hunter playing a game with Waltz's Jew Hunter. It is just a fantastic movie.
4. Road to Perdition
Based on a graphic novel, this Sam Mendes movie starred Tom Hanks as the right hand man for a mobster played by Paul Newman in one of the legends final screen roles. When Hanks' character makes a misstep, a hit is ordered to off Hanks and his son, and the two go on the run as a ruthless assassin played by Jude Law is close behind. It is just a brilliant adaptation and a fantastic movie from top to bottom.
3. No Country For Old Men
A lot of people didn't get this movie but most knew how amazing the Coen Brothers creation was. Anton Chigurh is just an amazing character and I have a theory that he simply represents death in human form. There are a lot of parallels between Anton and the Death character from the classic Ingmar Bergman movie The Seventh Seal, which featured a soldier bargaining for his life against Death in a game of chess. In this case, the hapless hero is playing a much more dangerous game and paid for it at the end. When it comes to Anton, no one gets out alive.
2. Le Samourai
Jean-Pierre Melville directed this spectacular French New Wave film about a hit man who is betrayed by the men he works for. When the hit on him goes wrong, he retraces his steps to try to figure out who betrayed him and why. The movie is just the epitome of cool and is one of the best assassin movies ever made.
1. Pulp Fiction
Seriously, can there be any other movie as first? Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield have to be not only the two coolest assassins in cinema but also the most ruthless. Not only do they kill with extreme prejudice, but they mess with their victims before pulling the trigger. Jules quoting his own made up Bible scripture is just brilliant.