Stars: Johnny Messner, Ammara Siripong, Joe Lewis, Brahim Achabbakhe, Tim Man, Roongtawan Jindasing, Rashid Phoenix, Ice Chongko, Chia Hui Liu | Written by Ken Miller | Directed by Raimund Huber
Sometimes I love my “job,” especially when I get to tell all you folks reading Nerdly about those hidden gems sitting on the shelves of your local supermarket and DVD stores (although are there any of those left these days?). Kill ‘Em All is one such gem.
Essentially Saw meets Mortal Kombat, Kill ‘Em All sees a group of deadly international assassins captured and locked up inside a high-tech bunker known as the Killing Chamber – and the only way to break out of this concrete hell is to duel each other. If they survive this, they will have to confront Snakehead: the lethal, deranged top dog who will stop at nothing to kill them all.
Kill ‘Em All starts off as it means to go on, with plenty of arse-kicking action. Right from the get-go we see the assassins at work, taking care of the usual business (i.e. killing plenty of people) before being grabbed. From then on out the pace heightens and never lets up once. We’re privy to fight after fight after fight in the killing chamber as the villainous Snakehead forces his captives to go head to head against each other – and when his plan goes awry and the three surviving assassins escape there are shades of both Game of Death and The Raid about the film’s structure as the three surviving assassins proceed level to level, room to room taking on a cadre of ninjas (yes, ninjas), a huge army of masked thugs and a couple of Snakehead’s henchmen.
Admittedly there’s not much plot to Kill ‘Em All beyond the fights but what action we do get puts a lot of similar direct to DVD titles to shame, and we do at least see some character development for a few of the captured, in particular Joe Lewis’ “Carpenter” and Tim Man’s “The Kid.” Of the cast it’s only Johnny Messner and Ammara Siripong who are tasked with doing anything other than fight, with Messner being the “voice” of the film for the majority of it’s running time – that is until the final reveal and the appearance of Snakehead, who is played by one of the HK cinema greats, Chia Hui (aka Gordon) Liu.
The real star of the film however is Tim Man. Having already appeared in film such as Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, Bangkok Adrenaline and Raging Phoenix, Man gets to shine in Kill ‘Em All as The Kid. Man’s martial arts skills are without a doubt one of the glue’s that hold this film together – he performs stunning aerial moves without wires, wields a sword like a bad ass and choreographs the movies many fights – best of all Man gets to go toe-to-toe with Lui, putting old school kung-fu up against modern-day muay thai!
Sans plot but with plenty of arse-kicking action to make up for it, Kill ‘Em All is a brilliant action flick that – if you’re a fan of the genre – should be front and centre on your must-see list. The film is out now on DVD from Koch Media.