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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Hired to Kill [Blu-ray]


(Nico Mastorakis, Peter Rader, 1990)




Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Omega Entertainment

Video: Arrow Video



Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:36:28.000

Disc Size: 38,441,902,170 bytes

Feature Size: 27,988,119,552 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.97 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: May 16th-17th, 2016



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit



English (SDH), none



Audio Commentary with editor Barry Zetlin
Hired to Direct a brand new interview with director Nico Mastorakis on the making of Hired to Kill (27:26)
Undercover Mercenary a brand new interview with star Brian Thompson (17:34)
Original Theatrical Trailer (2:50)
Stills Gallery
Original Freedom or Death Screenplay (BD/DVD-ROM Content)
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
Fully-illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing by critic James Oliver





Description: Starring legendary actors Oliver Reed (Gladiator, The Brood), Academy Award Winner George Kennedy (The Delta Force, Cool Hand Luke, The Naked Gun series) and Academy Award Winner Jose Ferrer (Cyrano de Bergerac, Dune, Lawrence of Arabia), Hired to Kill is an essential slice of '''90s action fare featuring guns, girls and a plethora of budget-busting explosions for good measure''.

Action movie staple Brian Thompson (whose brief turn in 1984 s The Terminator led to a starring role in the 1986 Sylvester Stallone vehicle Cobra) stars as Frank Ryan, a mercenary sent to track down a rebel leader in hostile territory. Posing as a fashion designer, he won t be going it alone, as he'll be aided by seven beautiful but deadly female fighters.

Whilst the opportunity to see Oliver Reed chewing up the scenery behind an elaborate moustache merits the price of the admission alone, Hired to Kill is also noteworthy as being co-directed by Nico Mastorakis the man behind such cult favourites as Island of Death and The Zero Boys.



The Film:

Brian Thompson, the bad guy from tons of movies, is Frank Ryan – the hero! He’s a mercenary, and the best there is. One day a shady government guy, Thomas (George Kennedy) contacts him with a new mission: to free (or kill) an imprisoned rebel leader, just to create a revolution in the little republic of Cypra. The president of this banana republic is Michael Bartos (the one and only Oliver Reed), a guy with a big moustache and an even bigger appétit for women! Which fits great into the plan, because Frank Ryan is going under-cover as a gay fashion designer and his team is five female mercenaries – ready to kill… and look sexy in that disgusting early nineties way!

Excerpt from Ninja Dixon located HERE


Thompson if you can’t already guess plays the Lee Marvin role. George Kennedy shows up long enough to give Thompson an Enter the Dragon style slideshow that sets up the plot. He wants Thompson to rescue Jose Ferrer and overthrow dictator Oliver Reed. In order to sneak into the country, Thompson has to pose as a gay fashion designer (!) and his all-female assault team pretends to be his models. Of course, these gals aren’t exactly Victoria’s Secret caliber dames, so not only does Thompson have to train them in the art of combat; he has to teach them to walk the runway too.

And you know what that means. That means montage. And it’s one of the finest ever filmed. Dispersed in between the scenes of girls crawling through the mud and shooting guns are shots of them strutting down the catwalk! Incredible. On top of that, we’ve got lots of cover girl model fashion shoot montages too. Seriously, if you love montages, you’re pretty much guaranteed to love Hired to Kill.

Excerpt from VideoVacuum located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.


This is the another Arrow Blu-ray release that is being simultaneously released in both region 'A' (US) and 'B' (UK). It is the exact same package on both sides of the pond to the best of our knowledge.


NOTE: As Michael Brooke informed us on Facebook in regards to Day of Anger: 'As the producer of Arrow's release, I can confirm first hand that the UK and US discs are absolutely identical: we only paid for one master, so there's no doubt about this at all! Which means that no matter which package you buy, the discs will play in any Region A or B setup (or Region 1 or 2 for DVD - and in the latter case the video standard is NTSC, to maximise compatibility). The booklets are also identical, but there are minor cosmetic differences on the disc labels and sleeve to do with differing copyright info and barcodes, and the US release doesn't have BBFC logos.' Hired To Kill is the same situation.


Hired To Kill gets a dual-layered transfer to Blu-ray from Arrow supported with a high bitrate.  It is described as a "Brand new 2K restoration of the film, approved by writer-director Nico Mastorakis" The 1080P reproduces some pleasing depth in the 1.85:1 frame but generally it looks a shade softer than I might have expected.  It's very clean and I don't doubt a solid representation of the original. This Blu-ray provides a decent presentation but certainly no demo.


















Audio :

Arrow use a linear PCM 2.0 channel stereo track at 1536 kbps (16-bit) of the option of a lossy Dolby 5.1 surround. I stuck with the default (stereo) and it exported some depth in the film's more aggressive sequences. The score is by Jerry Grant and a bit awkward at times - but I liked it and thought it suited this 'spoitation actioner. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' + 'B'.


Extras :

Arrow provide an audio commentary with editor Barry Zetlin and a couple of new featurettes - Hired to Direct is a brand new 28-minute interview with director Nico Mastorakis on the making of Hired to Kill. Undercover Mercenary is a new 17.5 minute interview with star Brian Thompson recalling the production and its relevance in his career. There is also an original theatrical trailer, a stills gallery. You can access the original Freedom or Death screenplay via BD/DVD-ROM content as a PDF and the package has a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys and includes a fully-illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing by critic James Oliver.




Well, if you've come this far I think you know what you are in for with Hired to Kill. Nico Mastorakis adds some flavor to this genre and he is beginning to grow on me. Hired to Kill is a cheap action/adventure with some sexy gals and it might be a notch above the standard for this exploitation-leaning flic with a hint of style. The Arrow Blu-ray provides a strong a/v replication of the original film and some decent supplements including a commentary. I suggest this fitting a unique vein of film-fan but you also might be surprised at some of the positive-ness of your reaction. Let's just say "You could do worse". 

Gary Tooze

May 13th, 2016


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze






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