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The Killer Elite (1975)

James Caan , Robert Duvall , Sam Peckinpah  |  PG |  DVD
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: James Caan, Robert Duvall, Arthur Hill, Bo Hopkins, Mako
  • Directors: Sam Peckinpah
  • Writers: Marc Norman, Robert Syd Hopkins, Stirling Silliphant
  • Producers: Arthur Lewis, Helmut Dantine, Martin Baum
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Letterboxed, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: February 23, 1999
  • Run Time: 122 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0792840453
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,520 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Killer Elite" on IMDb

Special Features

  • 8-page booklet featuring trivia and production notes

Editorial Reviews

James Caan and Robert Duvall star as a pair of CIA operatives in the Bay Area; when Duvall sells out Caan, he cripples him instead of killing him. But Caan fights back, working himself back into shape and back into service to protect a visiting dignitary who is targeted for assassination. It all leads to a solid shootout and martial-arts battle aboard the mothballed fleet in the North Bay. Economic and spare, this is one of director Sam Peckinpah's lesser efforts, but still features his skillful direction of action scenes. An intriguing cast includes Arthur Hill, Mako, and Bo Hopkins; this may be the only film that features both Burt Young and Gig Young. --Marshall Fine

Product Description

As steady hands carefully wire a bomb and meticulously set the timer to the eerie sounds of children singing in the background, and as the deadly device explodes, rupturing a building into fragments and splintering the tranquility of the theatre, the cinematic genius of the OscarÂ(r)-nominated* writer/director of The Wild Bunch comes to startling life. Featuring "a first rate cast"(Los Angeles Times) headed by Academy AwardÂ(r) nominee** James Caan and OscarÂ(r) winner*** Robert Duvall, this sinister action-thriller "aim[s] at the jugular" (Cue) and "rivets you to the screen" (Cosmopolitan)! Elite assassins Mike Locken (Caan) andGeorge Hansen (Duvall) take on jobs too risky for even the CIA to handle. They're best friends, superior marksmen and on the A-list when it comes to killing. But when one high-powered hitman betrays another, the intrigue, the violence and the thrills become more than just a dangerous game of who-kills-whom becomes a very personal war! *1969: Original Story and Screenplay (Sam Peckinpah) **1972: Supporting Actor, The Godfather ***1983: Actor, Tender Mercies

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Caan and Duval, Uzi's and Ninja's! December 24, 2006
I watched this movie a long time ago when I was much younger and it immediately became one of my favorites. First the movie was directed by Sam Peckinpah who's style I always liked. Second it stared two really powerful actors of the time in James Caan and Robert Duval. And lastly it had a LOT of action. It is a highly intelligent movie and several steps up from anytthing that you will ever see that has Ninja's in it. The movie revolves around a company of mercenaries that are hired by corporate interest or the government to do certain jobs. The movie story really takes off when two friends are torn apart by betrayal and then the movie becomes a story of revenge and obsession.

I have heard several people review this movie in a bad light when it first came out. But I must say that I enjoyed it back in the early 80's when I first saw it and I have watched it several times over and over since. Each time I still find the movie to be fun and interesting and the acting to be top notch.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad at all September 9, 2000
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Sam Peckinpah's The Killer Elite may not be the director's best film (I'll save that for either Cross of Iron or The Wild Bunch) but it's much better than the overrated The Getaway, and is generally a well-made action film.
The aspect that makes the film worthwhile is mostly hinged on Peckinpah's direction, with his usual death-in-slow motion and fast-paced shootouts. The first hour does plod a bit but the pace picks up considerably in the second half and culminates into an exciting shootout and martial arts battle on board a ship.
The Killer Elite is far from perfect, though. The beginning feels awkward and it takes a while to get the situation and characters straightened out. The plot is also executed in a far more complex manner than it needs to be, resulting in quite a bit of confusion. Robert Duvall is also underused, and the conflict between he and James Caan isn't as compelling as it could or should have been.
Performance-wise, The Killer Elite is well-acted. James Caan is solid as the betrayed CIA operative, though his character is a bit too nice for a guy who was shot in the kneecap and elbow by his best friend. Robert Duvall is decent with the limited screen time he has. Bo Hopkins is the real scene stealer as the psychotic agent, and he plays a good guy!
The Killer Elite is decent entertainment, with some energetic action sequences. Just rent the film, it wouldn't hurt.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top top stuff July 21, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
The first Peckinpah I ever saw -- and it hooked me forever. Makes today's "action" flicks (Con Air, The Rock, The General's Daughter, etc.) look like the overwrought, underfilled plastic fantastics they are.
That, and McQueen and Duvall are cooler than you.
Plus the fights.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Give me the gun. I'm gonna shoot him anyway." December 11, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
This was a good action movie with plenty of bullits and some martial arts mixed in. Caan gave a good performance. Two things kept me from giving this 5 stars. First a scene where Gig Young keeps a nervous Arthur Hill in the office doing paper work is moronic, and second, this movie screamed for a expanded role for a female character. The actress who played Caan's love interest was unattractive and void of talent. When you watch a movie like this you almost have to have some nudity and gratuitous sex to give you a reason to watch it a again and again. Oh well. What did work was the team of Caan, Burt Young, and Bo one was Rambo but no one was an idiot either.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FOR HUBBY May 16, 2013
Format:Amazon Instant Video|Verified Purchase
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Think of it as dated. January 7, 2013
Perfectly decent double cross spook film if you take into account that it is dated.

The production values, editing, sound track/music seem very "60's" which was still going on in 70s when this was made. And not the best from that era. Hardly seems mind-blowing today with for example ninja warriors fighting American mercenary gunmen on old mothballed battle ships and all that. A little too cute for me.

Look at it historically and it is kind of fun to see a taste of some the production and stylistic ideas they were experimenting with. More importantly, looked at historically it is interesting to see it in the context of growing cynicism 60s and 70s about government spy games and various bureaucracies using spies and mercenaries as pawns, and the elusiveness of truth in games of power. Not as sophisticated as some of the cold war moral ambiguity spy films, but in avoiding the focus on the cold war it was maybe more interesting viewed retrospectively.

For me, I felt a bit detached from it I think because the dated feel of it was distracting. So it was not as "involving" as for example Three Days of the Condor -- which I would include in the spook-betrayal sort of film genre, or films based on John Le Carre books such as Spy Who Came in From the Cold. The James Caan character for example was not as well developed as he could have been. I think they did a much better job with Caan in Rollerball (love it), in its own way about betrayal of little people by big people, so I will say that the director here could have gotten more out of Caan in terms of making him sympathetic. But it was okay.

All in all. I think this was a perfectly respectable film in this genre allowing for when it was made and the styles that directors were playing with. If you are into movies in this genre and have an eye for film history, this is certainly one to have on your check list to watch.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Killer Elite
This is a great movie, a classic. This movie is nothing like the new one. The cinematography is pretty standard for the time. Read more
Published 1 month ago by R. MacDonald
5.0 out of 5 stars Favorite James Caan oldy.
One of my favorite James Caan movies. His John Wayne trilogy movie is the best. This one is very dated but it really has good action and the characters are good.
Published 5 months ago by Robert J. Mcgrath
5.0 out of 5 stars classic
this is James Caan at his best (other than his role in 'El Dorado' with John Wayne). He is a stronger character even than Robert Duval in this offering. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Steve H Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Spys, Martial Arts & Two Friends who can you trust
Hi, "The Killer Elite" A+++++++ of a Classic Action Film, Staring James Caan & Robert Duvall.I know that every body knows all of Clint Eastwood films and his Dirty Harry films but... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Enver Azize
3.0 out of 5 stars Chop Suey ninjas in San Francisco and revenge are a dish best served...
The Killer Elite is a slow-plodding cat-and-mouse 70's revenge thriller from director Sam Peckinpah starring James Caan and Robert Duvall in their heyday. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Dave Cordes
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor Pal movies
Only one star only because i watch the movie when it first came out, but could not view on my dvr because you must have a dvr that plays pal movie format if you do not you have to... Read more
Published 13 months ago by KOOLBREEZE503
5.0 out of 5 stars couldn't find it anywhere else, so the market bore the price.
Price was higher than I had hoped to find it ($15 price tag was on it, I paid $30 for this nostalgic to my husband movie), but couldn't find it anywhere else, so the market bore... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Stacie Leigh
3.0 out of 5 stars Bang bang shoot 'em up
Husband loves the genre. Jimmy Caan was good, but just not this woman's cut of tea. If you like the movie formula, you'll like this one.
Published 17 months ago by kfaye
5.0 out of 5 stars Ignore The Bad Reviews! A Peckinpah Classic - A *3 Average Is A...

There are critics that will tell you The Killer Elite ("KE") was Peckinpah's weakest film. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Joseph Kohout Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars 70's classic in Duvall/Caan game of cat and mouse
"The Killer Elite" is a 1975 production from director Sam Peckinpah, known for his wild and action filled western epics. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Luke Killion
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