I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Day of the Assassin

tn_dayoftheassassinsMy Brian Trenchard-Smith studies continue with this 1979 picture, not an Australian one but a USA-Spain-Mexico co-production. And you know with that many countries cooperating that it’s gotta be amazing. It stars Chuck Connors as a jovial freelance agent hired to retrieve a mysterious document from a South American dictator’s blown up yacht. There also might’ve been some money on that thing so the world’s best agents and assassins, including Richard Roundtree, are all in the area competing with him. Also Henry Silva is the head of police who has jurisdiction over the area, but he’s just in a couple scenes doing press conferences. He doesn’t reveal himself to be evil, but I don’t buy it.

It seems like everybody involved in this movie is just doing it for a quick paycheck, but that’s okay. It’s still cool to see them all together in this weird little movie. Glenn Ford plays the guy who hires Connors, and he looks like he’s either retired or on vacation. He’s wearing shades and a white Adidas track jacket, and he’s only in a few scenes, sitting next to the swimming pool. I bet whenever Trenchard-Smith called “cut” he jumped in. It honestly seems like they either filmed it at his house or invited him on a fun vacation and then peer pressured him into shooting a few scenes real quick at the hotel. But it’s definitely worth his time because he gets to say the best line:

“We need a man who is bathed in the dragon’s blood. A man with little hazard of duplication.”
“Fleming, sir?”
“Yes. Yes, Fleming. The man for this job is Mr. Thomas Fleming.”

Fleming is of course Chuck Connors. And it’s true, because at 6’5″, with his freaky square jaw and blonde hair there is little hazard of Chuck Connors being duplicated. A cheap bootleg, maybe, but never an accurate re-creation.

mp_dayoftheassassin-copyThe story is all made up of things you’ve seen a million times before, but I like these kind of things. This Fletcher is a real smartass, he pretends to be a painter and plays dumb when other people call him out. He knows they know he’s lying and still pretends he thinks they don’t know just to fuck with them. He teams up with another guy so he can get the documents and the other guy can get the money, and they pull some of the ol’ OCEAN’S 11 type disguises and scams. My favorite part is when they’re disguised as workers, transporting the loot in a truck. The first time they get inspected they’re all in the back of the truck eating lunch, and they distract the cop by giving him food. The second time, Chuck’s partner just stands in the back smiling as the cops poke around. When they start looking where he doesn’t want them to he just pulls out a gun and pops them, never breaking his smile. Afterwards they joke about him enjoying shooting people. Somehow it still comes across as a pretty lighthearted movie.

But the undeniable highlight is an unintentional laugh. Roundtree dies when his car falls off a huge cliff. It’s shown in slow motion with a long, girly, hilariously un-Shaftlike scream dubbed over it. If I still had the tape I’d have to learn how to transfer that to digital and get it on Youtube, because the world needs to see this. The long, girly scream in itself is laugh out loud funny, but the idea that it’s supposed to be Richard Roundtree is incredible. Plus the car going off the cliff is pretty cool.

It also has a very enjoyable sort of disco/porn-funk score by some electric pianist named Bebu Silvetti. I swear I heard one of the main themes somewhere before, maybe sampled by somebody, but I couldn’t figure out where.

This one’s only on VHS, with a cover that made me think it was a TV movie. There’s alot of mystery about the credits because the box and IMDB both list Trenchard-Smith as sole director, but the actual opening credits give it to “Carlos Vasallo and Brian Trenchard Smith.” Vasallo is a producer but doesn’t have any directing credits on IMDB. Also, the box but not the credits or IMDB list “original screenplay ‘Traitors in the Lake’ written by Robin Estridge, adapted for the screen by Robert A. Miller.” Estridge was a TV writer but I can’t find any evidence of what this “Traitors in the Lake” was or why it was turned into this.

I don’t know man, it’s a pretty crappy movie and didn’t really keep my interest the whole time, but there’s something about it. I like those types of competing experts movies, it’s a good slumming cast and there’s just kind of a cool vibe to it. I think it would work well on one of those drive-in double feature DVDs that Dark Sky does. Or at least it could play at 2 o’clock in the morning on one of your local channels.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Saturday, May 2nd, 2009 at 1:16 am and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

9 Responses to “Day of the Assassin”

  1. How do you find these movies? I live in the extremely shitty part of the Pacific Northwest, so, while I can get eighty copies of “Meet Dave” at any hour, there’s just nowhere to find these shit-diamonds you review.

  2. WTH where’s the Wolverine review?

  3. Nice review Vern. In regards to Wolverine,the plethora of bad reviews say it’s garbage. I think many people are going to see it,just to see how bad it is. The more people that pay to see terrible movies helps ensure we’ll have more in the future. Don’t give in Vern. It’s along the lines I think to the Platnium Dunes Principle.

  4. Give in, Vern! This time Jackman not only channels Clint, but also Stallone from First Blood. The reviews are right in that it’s not a good movie, but still. I’d like to see your opinion of it. Also, Andy, remember that Vern liked X3 even when the rest of the Internet didn’t.

  5. Good job , Vern , I think I will track this down just to see the Roundtree scream scene alone. Since you are obviously a fan Australian movies , there’s any chance that we will see a “Stone” review in the future? Crazy stunts on that one , and since you already reviewed “Stone Cold” they will end back to back in the reviews page , the perfect biker-movies double feature. Plus , one of the bikers is Hugh Keays-Byrne , Toecutter in Mad Max , so you can consider Stone the “Mad Max Alpha”.

  6. You’re right Merso. If anything it should lead to a good review. So what the hell?

  7. I’m gonna see Wolverine today. My expectations have been lowered since everybody in the world says it’s bad, and since Scott Adkins who I originally thought was playing a character in it is apparently only a stunt double for Ryan Reynolds. But honestly I think it looks good and like Merso says I am the guy who liked X-Men part 3 so who knows, maybe my standards will be low enough.

    To answer Neuronin, Scarecrow video in Seattle actually has this one, but if you’re not near there you’d probaly have to buy a used copy online somewhere, which would not really be worth it. So this is not the most useful review I guess.

    How’s Meet Dave, though? Any good?

  8. Neuronin, I looked it up and it can be purchased for under 4 bucks. Hope that helps.

  9. If you’re like me and don’t like to order it online, I would suggest going to Best Buy, Suncoast, or Barnes and Noble and let them do it for you.

    You might also try the $5 bin at Walmart or, if it’s available, a used CD/DVD store. They may not have what you’re looking or, but you can usually find a gem in a sea of used copies of Tomb Raider.

    This might be rare to find nowadays, but in my neck of the woods there’s an old Captain Video that still has (only has, actually) VHS. That place is a goddamned goldmine for obscure 80’s action movies. Of course you’ll have to get a VCR if you don’t still have one.

    The last suggestion would be truck stops. Again, they may not have what you’re looking for specifically, but they’re a good place to check out once in a while. I found a copy of Radical Jack (staring Billy Ray Cyrus) browsing the local Sapp Bros one time, you never know what kind of stuff you’ll find there.

    Oh! I almost forgot…The library. It depends on the library of course, but they tend to have pretty diverse and often random collections of movies.

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