07th Sep2017

‘Contract Killers’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: James Trevena-Brown, Richard Alexander, Dallas Barnett, Renee Cataldo, Kerry Glamsch, Luke Hawker, Rhys Jordan, Tony MacIver, Rob Young | Written by Michael Yee | Directed by Mathew John Pearson

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Double-crossed by those he trusted the most, a newbie government hit man discovers that he’s the target for the world’s most dangerous assassin and so begins a ruthless game of kill first of be killed…

In the annals of filmmaking there’s everything from big-budget blockbusters to low-budget indies. Well now welcome the no-budget action movie! Financed through Indiegogo and filmed on the super-cheap in Wellington, New Zealand, Contract Killers at least shares something in common with its low-budget brethren down-under: it’s a damn good film that belies its budget to create what is, essentially, a John Woo-esque action movie that treats gunplay with the same amount of love and respect as the maestro of bullet-ballet did. Only these guys have no money and no real script to make their film with.

And that’s the biggest problem with Contract Killers… It’s weak story. Beyond the intro, a sub-par love story plot, and a ridiculous “who’s ordering all the hits?” conspiracy (which only applies to the characters within the movie, the audience knows waaaay too early to build any intrigue), the film is really not much more than a series of hitman vs. hitman (or in some cases hitwoman) battles staged to make the most of the gunfights and the action. And honestly? The film does not suffer for it. Instead the film borrows from the tropes of the slasher genre and turns its tale into a “stalk and shoot” affair, with the dangerous assassin replacing the masked killer and guns/martial arts replacing stabby weapons of death!

OK, so maybe that’s a very basic way to look at the film but then Contract Killers is a very basic film. However basic often works when it comes to the action genre – many films in the genre, even those now considered classic, follow the method of “give people cool looking fights and have them occur frequently”. Thankfully director Mathew John Pearson does just that: in this case the film is packed with gory, blood-filled, bullet-laden kills (enhanced to good effect – yes I said it – with CGI); which occur at such a frequency that this film could qualify for one of the highest body counts in recent direct-to-market history. It’s a frequency that also helps paint over the cracks in the script; and what ‘painting’ it is!

Yes, where the script may falter and the production values suffer, by contrast the stuntwork and the action of Contract Killers deliver. It helps that it looks like most of the cast have some sort of fight/stunt background – which only adds to the authenticity of the on-screen fighting. And be it with guns, knives or hands and feet, Contract Killers certainly revels in the glorious over-the-top ACTION of the genre in a time when many bigger-budget “action movies” do not.

Whilst Contract Killers may not set the mainstream movie world alight, for action fans there’s plenty to love about this scrappy underdog of a genre film. Make sure you add it to your to-watch list.
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With thanks to Vision Films.

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