Funny AND intelligent thriller with lots of twists
Jim Pellmann | San Jose, CA USA | 07/08/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"[A slightly modified version of this review was originally posted to the alt.tv.twin-peaks newsgroup in Feb '99 because Sheryl Lee starred as the murdered prom queen Laura Palmer in the "Twin Peaks" TV series and prequel movie.]This comedy-thriller stars Sheryl Lee, Jim Belushi, and Kyle Chandler (from the TV show "Inside Edition").It is an absolutely wonderful film that showcases Sheryl's acting in a way that none of her films has since "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me." Her character, Angel, goes through a series of transformations that is astonishing, hilarious, and touching. If the film had gotten a major theatrical release, it could have been the "breakthrough" role that would have made a lot of critics and moviegoers recognize her real talent.It is also that rare thing: a funny *and* intelligent thriller that not only shatters movie cliches, but keeps the viewer engaged for the entire length of the movie.School for AssassinsThe story opens on the streets of Chicago, where a businessman is being stalked by a mob hitman. Just as he is about to strike, the hitman is run over by a truck! We learn that the businessman is the former accountant for the mob boss, Uncle Vinny (Jon Polito of "Miller's Crossing"), and he is entering the witness protection program in order to testify against Vinny.A new hitman is needed pronto, and Tony Greco (Kyle Chandler), who once took a bullet to protect another mobster, is elected. Tony is sent to California to train with Stevie Rosellini (Jim Belushi), the most-feared assassin in the country. But Stevie turns out to be a laid-back California dude who lives on the beach and quotes Nietzche, so there is plenty of humor involving the clash between their personal styles and values.After training Tony for a while, Stevie reveals the final test Tony must pass before he can return to Chicago--killing an innocent victim selected at random from the phone book. The victim selected is Angel Chaste (Sheryl Lee), who turns out to be a mortician at a funeral parlor.As Stevie and Tony start tailing Angel, they learn that her life is a bit more complicated that it appears. When Angel discovers what is going on, she uses her intelligence and wit and turns into a far more formidable target than the assassins ever encountered. I won't reveal any more of the plot, as there are several delicious surprises and twists, and an ending that had the audience cheering when I first saw it at as the opening night film for the '99 Cinequest Film Festival.Surprising Production QualitiesIn addition to Sheryl Lee's superb performance, Jim Belushi is dead-on in his portrayal of Stevie. In a question and answer session after the screening, the writer/director David Corley revealed that Belushi was his first choice for the part, and how he fought with the producers to get Sheryl Lee for Angel after seeing her performance in "Backbeat."Corley also told of the five-year struggle to get funding for the film, and the reluctance of the Hollywood studios to finance a film with such a strong and quirky female lead character. This time allowed him to hone and perfect the script, however, and the film is perfectly paced for its 102 minutes. The musical score and cinematography are also impressive for a first feature effort. Corley's prior experience was producing industrial films for Silicon Valley companies and running a video rental store. One can only imagine that he watched a *lot* of videos to come up with a script this original!Unfortunately, the film did not acquire a US theatrical distributor, was bought by HBO, aired a few times on cable with minimal promotion, and was then released to video.Don't miss this "hidden treasure"!"
Dance of the hit-persons
Jan Mattson | Västerås, Sweden | 02/14/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The fascinating interaction of a master hit-gentleman and an unsuccessful apprentice hit-man and a self-taught very talented hit-lady. Well worth viewng more than once!"
A VERY SURPRISING GEM
fufupame | CHICAGO | 04/07/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS MOVIE, THE FEMALE ACTRESS REALLY LOOKED LIKE A LOSER... MAYBE ... BECAUSE SHE WAS A LOSER! SHE HAD A DEAD-END JOB, HER ONLY FAMILY MEMBER WAS DYING, ETC.
SHE, HERSELF FELT THAT SHE WAS A MAJOR LOSER. SO MUCH IN FACT THAT SHE TRIED TO KILL HERSELF.
BUT A TWIST OF FATE TURNS THIS "LOSER", INTO A POLISHED PROFESSIONAL AND PRETTY "WINNER". I AM NOT TELLING YOU HOW THIS HAPPENS BUT THE WAY THIS TRANSFORMATION IS SUPPOSED TO HAVE HAPPENED IS WELL-THOUGHT OUT AND BELIEVABLE.
FOLKS, IF YOU ARE THINKING OF BUYING THIS MOVIE, LET ME TELL YOU THAT YOU WILL NOT BE DESAPOINTED. IT IS VERY ENTERTAINING, WELL ACTED, AND OVERALL A WONDEFUL MOVIE.
Not a classic but worth watching
Jan Mattson | 06/26/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Very enjoyable film that actually managed to surprise me. Manages to go a bit beyond the standard hitman fare. What did it for me most of all though was the ending which I won't spoil."