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  Silent Assassins Silent But Violent
Year: 1988
Director: Lee Doo-yong, Scott Thomas
Stars: Sam J. Jones, Linda Blair, Jun Chong, Phillip Rhee, Mako, Bill Erwin, Gustav Vintas, Rebecca Ferratti, Peter Looney, Charles Young, David Colette, Joanna Chong, Greg Young Paik, Alexis Rhee, Dan Beder, Elise Briessette, Karen Witter, Simon Rhee
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Police detective Sam Kettle (Sam J. Jones) is on a mission to foil the plans of international criminal Kendrick (Gustav Vintas), but on the night when he and his fellow cops are attempting to bust the gang, their plans go wrong and they all manage to elude them, Kettle nearly grabbing the ne'erdowells but distracted when one of them throws a baby from a pushchair off the dock into the water. On diving in to save it, he discovers it was merely a talking doll and his bungling has cost him his job, but an incident the next day might just bring Kettle back to the fray...

In spite of everyone looking at Sam J. Jones and wondering why he wasn't battling Ming the Merciless instead of appearing in low budget action movies for the rest of his career, he continued undaunted, and his good humour appeared to be showing through in this, where indeed he didn't appear to be taking any of it seriously at all, in a what did he have to lose kind of way. Sure, there were scenes where grim things happened like people getting killed by ninjas, but Sam preferred to react as if he were playing a game of cops and robbers with his kids instead of taking it on with the gravitas you might have expected.

Not that this was a bad thing, in fact it lifted what could have been a pretty basic grind through the action flick clich├ęs of the day into something more of a romp, and you'd like to think Linda Blair was in on the joke too. Alas, it was difficult to tell when she received so little screen time, and in spite of appearing alongside Jones on the poster, both of them toting great big guns, it was an uncomplicated girlfriend role she was stuck in, simply present to be menaced then forgotten about as Kettle gets down to the business of beating the baddies. Those baddies are ruddy dastards who want to secure a biological weapon, and don't care who they hurt in the process.

This introduces the other hero into the story, an artist named Jun Kim (Jun Chong) who is a martial artist as well as a creative artist, just as well when his tiny niece is kidnapped by Kendrick's men, and all because the actual target, scientist Dr. London (Bill Erwin) apparently cannot resist acting on impulse and picking up every child he sees (watch out for this, he spends most of the movie with the little girl in his arms for no discernable reason). Therefore the infant is orphaned by the ninjas and spirited away to a secret lair where London is tortured to give away his chemical weapon secrets, or he would but he's a lot stronger than he looks - can he hold out until the newly reinstated Kettle and Kim can track him down?

In the meantime there was a lot of silent assassins to wade through as at regular intervals Kendrick sets his henchmen on the forces of decency, though they are usually seen off by dint of the way that everyone here is trained in combat, or everyone who gets attacked is anyway: Linda even proves handy with a pistol at one crucial moment. But then, if you're settling down with an action movie which went straight to video in most territories that's exactly what you've been anticipating, and the directors undoubtedly knew how stage a fight, with various swords, firearms and good oldfashioned fists and feet coming into play. Mako, the special guest star, has a go as well, illustrating his handiness with close quarters beat 'em ups, or he does to a point anyway (curse you, the shelving unit of doom), and the evil scientist who is behind all this is played by an actor called Peter Looney, which can only be judged appropriate. With an explosive climax and a rocket launcher that never needs reloading, there's an "ah... but what about...?" coda too. Never resolved, natch. Music by Paul Gilman.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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