Director William Girdler Writer “Donald G.”/Galen Thompson Producers David Sheldon, Fred C. Soriano Jr Associate Producers Maurice Downs, Frank Johnson Cinematography Frank E. Johnson Editors Chuck McClelland, Terence Anderson Music Robert O. Ragland Song “The Lonely World” Lyrics Sid Wayne Vocals Pilita Corrales Production Manager/First Assistant Director J. Patrick Kelly III Production Administrators Lettie B. Soriano, Miguel Lorza 2nd Unit Director Nick Miranda Location Co-Ordinator Gene Sulit Script Supervisor Hernan Robles Assistant Cameraman Leodigario Dalaois Jr Gaffer Pablo de Guzman Sound Recorder John Asman Boomman Vic Raflores Key Grip Amado de Guzman Makeup Linda Patiag Special Effects Joe Cadores Wardrobe Design Hilda Galang Unit Manager Dante Javier Wardrobe Mistress Yolo Sorbono Stunt Co-Ordinator Romeo Blanco Stunts D’Vultures Stuntmen Dalies Cutter Gervasio I. Santos Production Secretary Roupert A. Sese Production Assistant Dominador A.M. Llamas Properties Master Dading Urbano Still Cameraman Ignacio Lauron Liason Man Benjamin S. Mercado Schedule Master Antonio Ramos Production Accountant Mildred S. Tingal Sound Effects Editors Don Wolfe, Gene Corso Music Editor Lee Osborne Location Equipment Cesomobile Re-Recording Ted Gomillian Post Production Audio Services Inc. Orchestrations Robert O. Ragland, Ruby Ransia Vocals Vicor Music Corp. Manila Arranger Willy Cruz
Cast Leslie Nielsen (Jonathan? John? Trevor), Gary Lockwood (Frank Lassiter), Nancy Kwan (Lei Koo), Vic Silayan (Chief Insp. Cruz), Vic Diaz (Alok Lee), Galen Thompson (Carl Wagner), Maurice Downs (Hook), Pamela Parsons (Lynn Walker? Lee Marcus?), Carlos Salazar (Insp. Ortiz), Franco Zarrate (El Grande Deskclerk? Lung Set?), Louis Florentino (Ramon), Henry Salcedo (Business Hood), Mark LeBuse (Herman Kitolis), Ibarro Santos (Hotel Clerk), Romy BlancoDante Javier, Amondo Arce, D’Vultures Stuntmen (Alok’s Hoods), Tomas Orate, Val Gagarin, Alfonso Villamor, Nick Miranda, Melanio Manicio, Jesus Cortez, Mariano Suares (Police) Listed on IMDB but not in credits: Joe Dorsey (Senator Walker), Mary Ann Hearn (Computer Woman), Joan McCall (Helen)
Review from the William Girdler website:
"(Project Kill) is the beginning of what I can do if I'm given the opportunity. Here I'm not pinned down by cliches or lousy material. It's the only picture I'm really proud of." (William Girdler, Courier Journal 1975)
Leslie Nielsen (pre-comedy makeover) stars as a MKULTRA guru who decides to leave his post as a drug-enhanced military killing machine. When the feds suspect that he's going to blow the lid off their experimental drug operation, they send Nielsen's best student (Gary Lockwood) to hunt him down. The feds aren't the only ones who want Nielsen, and soon he is pursued by an Asian gang intent on stealing Leslie's secrets.
The film's pace is steady, but becomes bogged down with long stretches of (often flubbed) dialogue. Pat Kelly explains, "I think the lines got flubbed in Project Kill for several reasons. No dialogue coach; actors had very little time to learn lines; many foreign actors were used to long silence periods; and Bill was under pressure to get it in the can quick."
A veteran character actor, Nielsen is more visibly professional than anyone else in Project Kill. He delivers the clunky dialogue like a champ. It can be safely said that Nielsen carries 90% of Project Kill. But his poorly choreographed hand-to-hand combat skills coupled with his Mr. Roper-styled polyester wardrobe just don't add up to a believable onscreen action-hero persona. Lockwood is even less convincing as a government junkie-puppet with a short fuse. Nancy Kwan is lovely yet under-utilized as Nielsen's paramour. The climactic fight sequence between Leslie and Lockwood is not to be missed.
Project Kill might be Girdler's most even offering despite any creaky acting. Filmed in the
The camera pulls back from an American Flag to reveal a stark briefing room. A group of surly men wearing identical athletic uniforms marches in and sits down. The room goes black. A film camera rolls.
'Somewhere in the
The film ends and the classroom lights are switched on. John Trevor (Leslie Nielsen - also wearing an athletic suit) -addresses the men from a podium. His second-in-command Frank Lassiter (Gary Lockwood) observes from nearby.
"Now what you've just seen is a reenactment of a successful interdiction operation that took place six years ago. Interdiction and protective reaction: those will be your areas of duty. This unit which you're all so hot to become members of came about because of the events that occurred in the early sixties. It is the only effective means of combating political assassinations … by the interception and destruction of the assassin himself."
"Now you men have been carefully selected for this program because of your high level of performance in the battlefield and your high level of performance in physical endurance. But as your training progresses, you'll gradually reach a point of acceptance where you'll begin to surpass … everything that you have ever done before. You will reach goals that you never dreamed possible. And to accomplish this, you will be given vitamins to increase your stamina … chemical injections to expand your mental capabilities … injections to assist you in both physical and mental control. You'll be programmed to respond instantaneously to any given stimulus. You will become a reflex of a highly directed unit of force. You will be taught how to use everyday objects as weapons. Everything from a toenail clipping to a briefcase.
"CONTROL! Control will be emphasized throughout your training. Control - Control is… the KEY!!!" Twinkly music signals a marked behavioral change in Trevor. He holds his head as if in pain. Disoriented, he exchanges a nervous glance with Lassiter, then continues.
"When you're finished here, you'll be assigned to safeguard specific individuals and institutions. And because of your training here, you will be set apart from other security agencies and military establishments. In other words, you will operate independently.
"I am your commanding officer. You will refer to me only as Mr. Trevor." He points to Lassiter. "This is your second-in-command. You will address him only as Mr. Lassiter."
Trevor exits the briefing room. Lassiter calls the men to attention.
Lassiter yells, "STAND!!! What's your project?"
The men holler back, "KILL!!"
The men repeat, "KILL!"
"What's your priority?" asks Lassiter.
They answer, "ONE! PRIORITY ONE!!!"
We cut to Trevor's office. Trevor stares dreamily out his window as Lassiter enters. "Here are the dossiers of the new men," offers Lassiter. "Just leave them on my desk," Trevor replies with vague disinterest. Lassiter says, "One of them had a couple of tours in '
Trevor turns around and replies sarcastically, "Oh yeah. I wonder what the new men would feel if they saw what the star of that film looked like today."
Lassiter launches into a preachy rant, but Trevor coolly cuts him short. "I've had The Project for six years, Frank. I've had enough." Lassiter grows edgy, "OK - now you're the head of it. Doesn't that mean something?"
"The program has changed now, can't you see that?" insists Trevor. "The Project is different. There's more drugs now, more mind control. The whole thing is wrong, Frank."
"Have you had your injections today, John?" Lassiter asks anxiously. Trevor turns away from his friend and pauses. "No, I had no injections today." Lassiter explodes, "What you're thinking's dangerous! Withdrawal has to be gradual. You need to be deprogrammed. If you're not deprogrammed, you'll be a menace to society and to yourself - and you know that. Nobody gets out. Not you. Especially not you!"
Trevor shakes his head. "I've been training robots here for six years. For defensive purposes - that's what I've been told, That's what I tell them. I wasn't born yesterday - neither were you. We're being trained as HITMEN! We can be used as political, corporate and commercial weapons and you know damned well that's exactly what's happening!"
Exasperated, Lassiter asks, "So what the hell are you going to do it?" Trevor replies, "I can hold a press conference … blow the whistle on this Pandora's box and put the whole damned thing down the toilet where it belongs."
"You can't do that and you won't do that," insists Lassiter. Suavely, Trevor states, "Frank, I'm going out."
Lassiter nods. He dials the phone and asks for a medical survey team. Trevor karate chops Frank's neck and knocks him out. "I'm sorry Frank," Trevor says (in his best dynamic Leslie Nielsen voice) as he exits his office.
Trevor leaves the military compound in a snappy red car (all to the tune of "The Lonely Man" theme song). At the main gate, two checkpoint guards ask him to step out of his vehicle. Trevor somehow manages to knock both men out WHILE STILL SEATED behind the steering wheel.
We cut to a time-honored Girdler staple - a shot of an airport. Trevor lands in Manila wearing identity-cloaking sunglasses and carrying a steel briefcase. He hails a taxi and drives to a remote scenic area. As he walks through a peasant village, a large group of children congregates behind him Pied Piper style. Sensing these children have never been instructed not to take candy from strangers, the military killing machine throws sweets at the kiddies. They laugh and cheer as Trevor continues his 'Lonely Man' journey.
The film abruptly jumps to a dramatic shot of a roaring ocean framed by magnificent mountains. I'm not sure whether we are to assume that Trevor traversed this rough terrain on foot, but the next thing we know, Trevor arrives at a posh seaside bungalow. He rings the doorbell.
"Go away," calls a voice from inside. Trevor ignores the command and slides open the front door. He enters a dark room. Suddenly, a muscular black man grabs Trevor from behind. Trevor elbows the man in the stomach, spins around, and poises to strike. The sound of a cocked pistol stops Trevor in his tracks.
A raspy voice teases, "You should never go into action with a recon in the area - friend." Trevor points to the wheezing black man. "My old friend Hook here ambushed me," John explains with a smile.
A wheelchair bound man approaches Trevor. "You son of a bitch. One of these years, when you manage to drag your ass to Manila without any advanced planning, I'm going to put another hole in it for you, whether I know who you are or not."
Trevor grins warmly, "I had to see an old friend, Carl. You alright, Hook?" Before Hook can nod in reply (he's a mute), Carl interrupts, "Never about mind that you two, let's have a drink. Hook, break open the good booze, will you? As for you, you S.O.B., you got about two minutes before the bourbon hits the glass, and I want a complete rundown of your activities for the last four years. Now let's make it! (!?!)"
Time passes as the three swap stories and guzzle booze. Carl Wagner affectionately discusses fantastic ocean missions of long ago. Trevor grows serious. "You were always meant for sea command, Carl. It was my fault. I should never have never enlisted you into The Project."
Carl responds caustically, "The Project! I should have quit that after that training film we made. What the hell ever happened to that anyway?" Trevor flinches, "Oh, it's around." Carl continues, "Me and Hook - we were the best. Aw, we drew a rough assignment, but I tell you when that chips magazine went up, it was a sight to be see."
"Carl, I'll never forgive them for what they did to you- to you both," Trevor says remorsefully. "And it's happening to us all mentally." Carl turns somber, "You mean they went on with that - after the war, all of it? That's not right for you! Cut them loose. Let them sink in their own swill!"
Trevor replies, "Maybe I've done that …" He grabs his head as twinkly music signals the symptoms of drug withdrawal. "Hey, you OK?" asks a concerned Carl. "Yeah, no, I'm fine" is Trevor's unsteady answer.
"Why don't you come out here with us?" poses Carl. "We can have a full crew just the three of us." Trevor shakes his head. "Things can't be like they were, Carl."
"Just remember, John: you can't forget the past," Carl offers cryptically. "Oh I know that," answers Trevor. "That's the trouble. And I gotta keep moving." Carl turns to Hook and commands, "Hit him again he's falling behind!" As the three prepare a toast for old time's sake, Carl bursts into a violent coughing fit. Trevor shoots Hook a fearful, knowing glance, then the old chums resume partying.
We cut to a shot of a fancy private AIRPLANE LANDING. A limo pulls up to the plane and some Asian mobsters hop out to greet the VIP passenger. A pudgy Asian gangster dressed like Mr. Roarke from
The film returns to Trevor, who's standing outside the bungalow and staring at moonbeams reflected atop the ocean. Hook decides to join him, and brings some booze along for good measure. Trevor begins rambling to the mute man. "Way I figure it, we've got $300, 000 in the kitty. I'm going to take half; you can keep half. When's the last time you took him to a doctor? Anyway, when I get to wherever I'm going, I'll refill the kitty. You tell him I won't be back for a while. Wish I could buy back his legs and give him a day on the bridge of a destroyer. You go on to bed - I know where my bunk is." Hook nods and leaves the lonely hitman to his solitary thinking. Trevor whispers an Oliver Wendell Holmes line into the darkness. "And the harpies of the shore shall pluck the eagle of the sea."
Trevor wakes up the next morning and launches his private male grooming ritual. He looks unwell and shaky. He throws on a très 70's khaki shirt and goes out to the main room where Carl greets him with piping hot coffee.
Trevor announces, "I'm going to take the old car. I need a boat, Carl." Without hesitating, Carl scribbles something on a piece of paper and hands it to Trevor. "Give me a couple of days, then call this number … his name is Katilis."
In mock interrogation style, Trevor fires off questions at Carl. "When's the last time you saw me?" asks Trevor.
"What'd I look like?"
"What will you do if you see me again?"
"Lay you on your butt for the twenty bucks you still owe me."
Trevor nods as if satisfied. "If anybody comes by, I wasn't here."
Carl smiles, "Friends?"
Trevor grows cold. "Who's got friends, Carl?"
The film jumps to (guess what?) A SHOT OF AN AIRPLANE LANDING!!! Text from a telegraph message is projected over the mighty aircraft. "Attention all US embassies … law enforcement agencies …. Interpol … Priority One … detain John Trevor … rpt former security chief … travelling with forged diplomatic passport … believed in possession of stolen us treasury plates … attention
Lassiter exits the plane. A lovely blond woman, a stern Filipino, and a cop in a pink shirt are there to greet him. "Mr. Lassiter - I'm Lynne Walker. I'm the US Council Liaison Officer. Is there any cover story for the press on this situation." Perturbed, Lassiter answers, "No. You see, Mr. Trevor is a very dangerous man. I think it's best we keep it from the local press." Lynne's baby doll face twists in frustration. "Well, I have my job to do, too, Mr. Lassiter. And I intend to do it."
The stern Filipino cuts off the annoying blonde and whips out his badge. "Mr. Lassiter, I'm Inspector Cruz. This is my associate Inspector Ortiz. Please follow us."
The four head to police headquarters and convene in an office. An eye-catching saltwater fish tank is the centerpiece of the over-furnished room. Lassiter tries to take charge by asking Cruz to track down any American in the area who might have a military connection to John Trevor. Cruz agrees, but adds, "You must know there are others interested in Mr. Trevor's whereabouts."
Inspector Ortiz pipes up. "A private plane just arrived at Manila International carrying a passenger from an indirect route from
Lassiter walks away and pretends that he's fascinated by the fish tank while he thinks up something clever to say. "How should I know?" Lassiter finally answers elusively. Cruz responds with forced patience. "Of course - how should you know? Obviously there's something of great value involved to bring Alok himself here …"
Lassiter snaps, "Yeah - the plates!" Cruz shakes his head. "Such things could be handled by intermediaries … and usually are." Lassiter tries to end the discussion by insisting that he has no other information he can give the inspector. Cruz reclines in his chair. "I see, well then perhaps before you retire to the hotel you might ease my apprehension in another area … what was Trevor's motive for all this?"
Lassiter clears his throat. "OK. It's an illness. Um - about three weeks ago he went through his annual physical. It's a malignancy. It's terminal and it's inoperable. You see, inspector, he's a man who worked for government agencies all of his life. He lived in a sterile apartment with sterile people around." Cruz asks, "He wasn't paid well?" Lassiter elaborates, "Quite well, but let's say not well enough to cover a lifetime of experiences he never had. A man like that wants the best, and it takes money. The plates are worth millions, and with them he can buy himself a new life regardless how short it might be. At least that's the way we look at it." Cruz still seems thoroughly unconvinced, but he mutters a polite "I see …"
The meeting adjourns. Inspector Ortiz escorts Lassiter to his car parked in an underground lot. As they walk, Lassiter asks Ortiz to see what he can do about "getting Miss Walker back behind a desk where she belongs." The screeching sound of car tires grabs their attention. A red vehicle roars into the lot -- headed straight for Lassiter and Ortiz. In the confusion, the car rams Ortiz, sending him flying. The car crashes into a support beam. Lassiter dashes to the car and yanks out an Asian thug. Frank tosses the gangster against a wall and kills him with several deathblows (which kinda look like slaps). The thug's body slumps to the ground as the car speeds off. Lassiter seems pleased with himself. As he turns to leave the corpse, he flips his hair back as if to say: "Not only am I a cold-blooded killer, but gee, my hair looks terrific!"
Later, Miss Walker drives Lassiter to their hotel (why she didn't do that in the first place is beyond me). She is visibly annoyed. Lassiter tries to break the tension. "Why so quiet? I thought you were an accomplished conversationalist." She ignores his lousy attempt at small talk "They told me about the man you killed in the garage …"
"It was an accident, Miss Walker. Just an accident" explains Lassiter. "That accident was on foreign soil. It may not concern you, but I'm the one who has to make the explanations." (Note: both actors flub their lines here and stammer for a bit.) Tongue-tied, Lassiter barks, "Well you're the picture of efficiency. It shouldn't be too difficult for you. Hey, as long as we're stuck with one another we might as well get along, OK?" Lynne turns her eyes to the road. Purposefully, she asks, "The man you're after is a man like you, isn't he?" Lassiter pauses, then answers somberly. "He's not like me. He's a lot better at his job than I am."
Miss Walker and Lassiter arrive at their luxurious hotel. Lassiter goes to the front desk and checks in. The man behind the counter announces that "a friend of yours is waiting at the bar." Lassiter is confused. He turns to Miss Walker. "Did you tell anyone I was coming?" She shakes her head. Fearlessly, Lassiter and Walker head to the bar to see what's going on.
After they exit, a creepy Asian mobster (the one who wears sunglasses at night) approaches the counter to book a room. "I was wondering if I could get a room next to Mr. Lassiter. We will be doing business together …"
In the kitschy hotel bar, Lassiter asks "See anyone you know?" Just then, two Asian guys call him over. He swaggers to the bar and says, "Do I know you?" The Asian men grin. "In a way. You and your friend tried to wreck our car in the garage this morning." Lassiter fakes a knowing smile. "Oh, yeah. Excuse me a minute, boys."
He tugs at Lynne and points to a lovely saltwater fish tank on the other side of the room. "Miss Walker - go look at the fish. THE PRETTY FISH." She sneers at the suggestion, but does what she's told. Lassiter returns to the Asian men. "Anyway, Poncho, you said something about the garage?" The Asian men smile. "We just wanted you to know we don't hold any gripes." Lassiter growls back, "I do." The men burst into laughter. Lassiter turns to leave, but the men call after him. "Hey wait a minute, don't rush off! You and your lady friend - have a drink with us!"
Meanwhile, the creepy Asian sunglasses guy breaks into Lassiter's room with remarkable ease - and whilst smoking a pipe (not exactly covert, smart guy), he bugs Lassiter's phone.
Back at the bar, the gangsters continue pestering Lassiter. "Anything you need, we'll see that you get it. Just don't have any more accidents." Lassiter smiles briefly, then grabs the talkier gangster by the scruff of his shirt. He pummels the man against the bar. He continues kicking gangster ass for a few minutes, then tosses them into some crystal beaded curtains. Satisfied that the badguys have been bested, he approaches Miss Walker and asks flippantly, "How were the pretty fish?"
Later that night, Lassiter takes his scheduled injections in his bugged hotel room. The phone rings just as he finishes shooting up. He picks up the receiver (what a crummy agent - he never checked to see if it was tapped). The voice on the other line announces that "Carl Wagner is the only contact here. Find him, get it finished. Trevor's dangerous!" Lassiter assures the caller that he will complete his task, and hangs up. Does he do what he promises? NO!! He sinks back into his bed and takes a load off!!
(Note: I believe the proceeding events run concurrent with the scenes just described. So as the timeline of this movie goes, we're back to the same morning Lassiter's plane landed and he killed the guy in the parking lot. You with me? Good. Let's continue …)
In a lusher region of the
A sweet voice breaks his psychological torment. "Are you alright? I saw you from over there." He opens his eyes and sees a beautiful, small-featured Asian woman standing before him (Nancy Kwan). His face lights up, and he struggles to pull himself together. "I'm fine, just fine. Just a minute. What-eh, what's your name? Where do you come from?" She smiles warmly. "My name is Lee Su. I'm from Milange." Trevor gently asks, "Lee Su - stay with me?" She nods. "Alright. Walk with me."
The handsome couple stroll across the stunning hotel grounds. "Lee Su … that's just a name I wanna remember," muses a smitten Trevor. "And your name?" she asks. He hesitates. "Bill Rider. So you're staying here at the lodge? I just came in myself. I'm glad you're here. I hope that we see each other again." She flashes him a flirtatious grin and says, "I hope so too."
We cut to the Lodge's tacky bar/restaurant later that same night. A schmaltzy lounge act is performing the centerpiece musical theme of the film: The Lonely Man song.
Lee Su is seated at a table all alone. As the music plays, Trevor enters the restaurant dressed in his best shiny butterfly-collared shit. The maitre de asks if he needs a table, but Trevor declines. He scopes the room until he finds what he's looking for: Lee Su. He approaches the Asian beauty. "Have you ordered?" he asks her. "No. I was hoping someone would join me." He smiles and sits down. A quick burst of twinkly music signals another withdrawal attack. "Mr. Rider, are you all right?" cries a concerned Lee Su. Trevor shrugs it off and grabs a glass of wine. "Too much nightlife, I guess. Well cheers!" (1)
The lonely man theme plays on symbolically.
So go away.
And don't follow me.
Let time swallow me.
As time will do.
In my lonely world,
There's no place for you.
Elsewhere, at Carl and Hook's place, a screeching car commands the two disabled drinking pals' attention. They exchange nervous glances, then share a drink.. "Is today the day?" ponders Carl. "Found his mothership did they? How many?" Hook holds up five fingers. Carl continues. "And it's not the law? Huh. Have a drink, Mr. Hook. Prepare to do battle!" Carl coughs violently and wheels off to the living room. A door buzzer rings out. "The answer to our prayer," he mumbles.
The door rattles and a voice yells out, "Open up the door Mr. Wagner. If you cooperate there will be no trouble."
Hook and Carl ready themselves. The door bursts open and the mobsters enter. Carl immediately shoots one Asian mobster dead. Another goon jumps Carl in his wheelchair and knocks the gun away from him. Yet another thug comes in firing with a shotgun and blows a fatal hole in Hook's stomach. The disabled Carl proceeds to take on the strongmen via hand to hand combat. Eventually, they force him back into his wheelchair and hold him down. Once Carl is acceptably immobilized, Alok Lee arrives to interrogate Carl.
"Mr. Wagner … Let me commend you. A formidable bit of resistance," croons Alok in slow, deliberate English. "Now that this is over, I want you tell me where your friend Mr. Trevor is." Carl struggles in the clutches of the gangsters. "Go to hell!" he shrieks. "Mr. Wagner, I do not want you to endure more pain. Trevor has something I am interested in and something for which I have a customer. You can not win out, Mr. Wagner. This pain will pierce through your masculine form. When I get out of here, I will get what I want from you." Carl sneers at the chunky badguy. He spits in Alok's eye. Alok pulls out a hanky and wipes the saliva from his cheek. "Foolish Mr. Wagner. Foolish." A giggling demented Asian thug in a red suit approaches Carl. He whips out a large switchblade and raises it to Wagner's throat. Carl's eyes grow wide with fear …
Back at the 'Lonely Man Lounge," Trevor and Lee Su are having the swellest date of their lives. After a nice romantic dinner, they exit to the veranda and enjoy the moonlit scenery. They decide to go for another walk - this time in the dark. They hold hands and laugh like dippy teenagers. Consumed by the tenderness of the moment, they kiss passionately.
While Trevor and Lee Su enjoy a wild evening together, the police gather at Wagner and Hook's bungalow. Lassiter, who JUST NOW gets off his lazy ass to follow-up his earlier assignment, arrives at the house and saunters up to Inspector Cruz and Lynne Walker. "Strange meeting you here," says Cruz. "Coincidence no doubt." Lassiter dismisses the comment and asks, "What happened?" Cruz leads Lassiter to the living room, points to Hook's body, and replies, "A battle, obviously." Their eyes are drawn to the Carl's blood-drenched corpse, which hangs by a hook-like structure on the patio. Lynne gasps in disgust. Lassiter tells her, "Miss Walker, if this is a bit much for your stomach, you can wait in the car." She shoots him an angry glance, and remains with the team out of spite.
Cruz turns to Lassiter and remarks, "The dossier on Trevor was most interesting. We cross-checked that with a list of Americans who live here in
Lassiter ignores the barb and asks, "How'd he find out about Wagner?" Cruz stares him dead in the eye and calmly fires back, " How did YOU find out about Wagner?" Lassiter offers no answer.
Early the next morning, Trevor telephones Wagner, only to discover that the number is now disconnected. His body becomes tense as he begins to suspect something unpleasant has happened. He reviews the contact information Wagner handed him the previous day. "Is something wrong?" Lee Su asks while snuggled in Trevor's bed. He hops in next to her and caresses her shoulders. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to wake you. No, there's nothing wrong. Just trying to contact an old friend." Starry-eyed, Lee Su asks, "You've seen much trouble haven't you Mr. Rider?"
He grins at her observation. "A little," he says. She adds, "You had no monopoly on that." He senses that she's flirting. "On what?" he asks. "Trouble!" she replies with a girlish giggle. He smiles, "I know that, too. I'm concerned about my own, though." Lee Su's pillow-talk grows even more philosophical. "Yes, because you know them best. You want much in life. I mean, of life."
Trevor shakes his head in disagreement. "Not much. All I know is: I don't want what I've had.anymore. And I don't know what's up front. I'm not used to that. I'm feeling like a kid … all weak inside. If I cashed out tomorrow, no one would know I existed. I'd just be another dead soldier. I think that what I want is someone who really cares that I've been alive. Someone I can trust. Someone who would trust me. A woman. …"
Lee Su states matter-of-factly, "It is love you want. Same as I." Trevor sits up. "Who the hell knows what they want? Who the hell knows anything?" Lee Su replies gently yet firmly, "I'm the one. And you want many things." He moves in close to her and says. "Well, you see, how foolish I am."
"No. Dreaming is not foolish," she assures him. "I will dream with you and if you also want, I will love you." She kisses his lips gently, and they embrace.
Later that same morning, the couple leaves the lodge in Trevor's car for a bit of Sunday driving. They smile, laugh, chitter, and otherwise revel in their newfound puppy love. Trevor catches sight of a suspicious red car (the one that attacked Lassiter) in his rearview mirror. He tells Lee Su to hang on, and he floors the gas pedal. The red car speeds after them. They race down narrow, dusty roads. Trevor tries to lose his pursuers by barreling through a residential area. Children scurry for cover as the cars crash into makeshift fruit stands.
The red car struggles to pass Trevor, but he cuts them off. They ram the back of Trevor's car. Trevor lets the red vehicle approach on the side, then skillfully runs his enemy off the road. He and Lee Su drive off unharmed.
(1) Notice the similarities these Project Kill scenes share in common with Three on a Meathook. We start with a mental flashback of someone yelling "KILL KILL" in Trevor's head, which also happens to Billy in Meathook. We have a boring "half-time" musical number with extended shots of lounge performers. AND BEST OF ALL: we have a couple who falls in love by way of extended park strolling. Girdler's "walk in the park" concept of romance also pops up in Asylum of Satan.
We cut to Lassiter at his hotel that same morning. He meets Inspector Cruz and Lynne Walker for breakfast at an outside café. The Inspector hands a letter to Lassiter and begins to say something. Cruz is interrupted by an urgent phone call. Cruz leaves the table momentarily.
Lassiter reads the letter and winces. He turns to Lynne and asks, "Have you been in the councilor's office for very long?" She says she's worked there four years. He presses her further. "Dedicated?" he asks. "Of course!" she responds with ruffled pride. He waves the letter in her face. "This is a secret priority one message I've read and understand. What should I do? What would you do?" She hesitates, then states, "I'd shred it and burn it! I don't understand what you're getting at." He grows smarmy, "If you were really dedicated, you'd grab it and eat it - then you wouldn't use a public toilet for two weeks." (Great point, you dumbass. Obviously 'Tact' is not part of Project Kill's training program). .She wrinkles her nose at his suggestion. Luckily, Cruz returns and puts an end to Lassiter's potty talk.
"We just got some information on your friend. Mr. Trevor was seen this morning accompanied by a Chinese woman. There is also a report that these people were involved in a high-speed chase along the lake highway. The vehicle has not been sighted." Cruz suggests they take a train to where the chase took place, and Lassiter agrees. Before they leave, Lassiter returns to his room to make a phone call.
In the hotel room, Lassiter weathers a verbal lashing from his superior. "If you had taken proper security measures, that phone call wouldn't have been overheard!" Lassiter expresses no remorse for being a dipshit. "Sir, I have another hot tip for you - someone stole my medication." (WHOA!! Wait a minute - when the hell did that happen? It's not in the movie.) His superior fumes, "I assume it was in your attaché case. Did they steal that too?" Lassiter confirms that his case is indeed missing. "You get Trevor, that is, if you're still capable of handling the operation. Do it quietly without publicity. He's dangerous." Frank explodes, "Personally, sir I don't give a damn about the publicity. I care about the man. What happens if he goes off the deep end?" There is a long pause on the other end. Finally, his superior speaks up, "With the serious International implications, you may have no choice. Bring him back or eliminate him." Lassiter grows pale and stammers, "I just wanted to hear you say it, Sir."
Lassiter heads over to the train station. To his frustration, he is greeted by Lynne. "Miss Walker, who authorized this trip?" he asks. "I told you before I can take care of myself. I authorize my own trips, and I go where I feel I have to go." She gets in his face and warns, "If you pull any more of your superiority gimmicks, this is one Radcliffe girl who can have you deported as an undesirable in nothing flat. And I mean it." Lassiter is not amused by her power play. "By all means, be my guest, Miss Walker."
Inspectors Cruz and Ortiz approach Lassiter, who is sweating profusely and looks unwell. Cruz asks if he's alright, and Lassiter insists that he's just not accustomed to the tropical climate. They board the train, but not before Lassiter takes note of some shady looking Asian thugs loitering near the boarding platform.
Lassiter seats himself, and loosens his collar to battle his drug withdrawal hot flashes. He spies one of the Asian thugs (Mr. Sunglasses) approaching the train bathroom. Lassiter realizes that the goon is carrying a grenade. He leaps from his seat and tackles the thug. Another goon emerges from the bathroom and fires a shot at Inspector Ortiz, hitting the officer in the chest. (Poor Ortiz - he was struck by a car just yesterday.) Lassiter shoves the grenade-carrying goon into the bathroom, and forces him to drop the grenade. He locks them in momentarily, pulls the grenade pin, then throws the small bomb into the train's bathroom. He yells for everybody to get down, and grabs a suitcase. He holds the suitcase over the bathroom door to dull the explosion. The burst sends Lassiter sailing back into the train compartment wall (though the suitcase strangely doesn't budge). Lassiter calls out for an ambulance. He fusses with his hair as he proudly leaves the crime scene.
After things calm down, Lassiter meets with Inspector Cruz and Miss Walker. Cruz informs him that Ortiz will recover, and there were no major organs damaged. Cruz congratulates Lassiter, "You reacted very quickly. It could have been worse." Lassiter replies, "OK, OK - so I'm a terrific person. What about Trevor?"
Cruz states, "Since the attempt was made before we left the depot, it means Alok is here, which means Trevor is here. Listen you'd be of greater help to us if you were to cooperate fully and stop withholding information from us intentionally." Lassiter sighs, "Are we back to that one, huh?" Cruz becomes flustered. "We NEVER left that, Mr. Lassiter! Look, if I were to accept your government's excuse for wanting Mr. Trevor, I'd have to ask many more questions. If Alok wanted those plates, he would have bought them. If what he wants is a man, it's quite a different thing. If you want to play a game, you can do it somewhere else and not in my country. Mr. Lassiter you will cooperate, or you can get the hell out!" Frank nods, but does not submit to Cruz's request.
Meanwhile, Trevor travels to the local dock to meet Kitolis, the man Wagner called about a boat. He cautiously ascends the staircase. He hears a commotion coming from behind a door. "You lied about Wagner - you will tell us everything about this!" yells a voice. Trevor pulls out his pistol, and uses it to knock on the door. The room grows quiet. The doorknob turns slowly. A bearded man opens the door. Trevor asks him, "You have a friend named Wagner?" The man says yes. " So do I," is Trevor's response. "What can I do for you?" the bearded man (Kitolis) stutters. Trevor answers evenly, " I have a business proposition for you …" Trevor kicks open the door and pushes Kitolis aside. He then punches one thug in the chest. Trevor fires two shots into the door, killing a goon hiding behind it. A final shot takes out the first goon and he falls out the office window.
Trevor turns to face the old man. "They work for Alok Lee," Kitolis offers without prompting. He points to the slain body of a man lying behind the desk. "My secretary - they killed the poor man. He couldn't tell them what he didn't know. They mentioned Wagner and a man named Trevor. That would be you?"
Trevor doesn't answer, but inquires about Wagner. "He's dead," Kitolis says. The words hit Trevor like a freight train. "WHAT?" John holds his head in pain. Twinkly music floats in to indicate a drug withdrawal moment. Trevor snaps out of his daze. "Got any liquor here? Pour two drinks … pour them where I can see them." Kitolis obeys and fetches some booze.
Trevor grabs a glass. "I need a boat," he says. They barter and agree that for $75, 000, Kitolis will secure a boat in two days. Trevor gives him $50, 000 in advance. "There are two of us," Trevor clarifies. Kitolis starts to balk about the extra passenger, but softens. He says, "Mr. Wagner and I have done much business over the years. Profitable business at that." Trevor nods his head sadly and raises his glass. "Yeah, I know. Here's to fools. And Sailors."
Elsewhere, Lynne Walker decides to pay Lassiter a late night visit. She heads him off as he tries to return to his room. "Well, well, well. Miss walker. If you don't stop following me, I'm going to call the police," Lassiter quips.
"I'm working the police," she says dryly. "You've been drinking."
Lassiter groans. "Man, I wish I could. Hey, could I offer one. It won't rust your gears." Lynne declines. "No thank you. I don't drink on duty." Lassiter is undaunted. "Miss Walker, for someone who's done so much for their country, you deserve a little enjoyment." She smiles sadistically. "Well, there is one little bit of enjoyment I will allow myself." She slaps him square in the jaw, then yells, "Before I left for the train today, I received a message from my director asking me to call off this thing. You arranged that, didn't you?" Lassiter lies (we heard him ask Ortiz to have Lynne reassigned earlier), "No I didn't. but it's cool. Because you don't belong here and I don't want you here." She is seething. "Oh 'man's work,' is that it?" Lassiter smirks at her. "Golly , you guessed it." Lynne is furious. "But it was alright a few seconds when you wanted a few creature comforts!" she hollers. "You guessed it again," he replies. Lassiter pulls her close to his body and kisses her. She squeals and breaks away. Frustrated and humiliated, Lynne slaps him again and storms off.
Back at the lodge, Lee Su returns to Trevor's room to find that he's sleeping. She approaches his reclined form and gently pats his head. His eyes spring open. He slugs her, knocking her to the floor. Trevor stands over Lee Su's body and poses as if he's about to deliver a deathblow. Twinkly music suggests he's suffering another withdrawal wave. He freezes, then realizes what he's about to do. His body relaxes. "Lee Su, forgive me." She begins to weep. "Why? Why? I don't understand."
Trevor is a physical wreck. His hands shake uncontrollably as he tries to explain his problems to his new love. "I'm sorry. Believe me I can't help it. I take drugs. And I'm part of a military program. And I train men to kill. I train them and I am one of them. And we use drugs in the program. And I've taken myself off the drugs. They're part of my control. Without them my responses become dangerous. I need the damn the stuff. I'm programmed to need it."
Lee Su fumbles through her purse and finds a bottle of prescription painkillers (or downers). She hands them to Trevor, who proceeds to ingest roughly half the bottle. Lee Su instructs Trevor to lie down. He begins babbling as the drugs take effect. "It's not the same anymore for me. I don't know where it's different, but it's different for me now. When it's all out of me …" She interrupts him. "Shhh - the pills are talking." Trevor laughs, "Pills! Now that's something different." He draws her close to him. "Lee Su: I'm not programmed for love." She cradles him tenderly as The Lonely Man song sets a somber mood.
The next morning, we see Kitolis seated at his desk. The telephone rings. As he reaches for the receiver, we hear Alok Lee advise him, "Remember what I say - tell him no more no less, but get him here!" Kitolis nods and picks up the phone. "Yes, Mr. Trevor. Yes it is. I have it all arranged. This afternoon …at the old wharf at the dry dock. Bring the rest of the money." Kitolis hangs up. Alok congratulates the old man in broken English. "Excellent. Very well done. The attaché case we found in Mr. Lassiter's room was quite interesting. Maliable, manipulative mind drugs ... and yet in Mr. Lassiter's attaché case. Tell me old friend, did Trevor appear ill when you saw him. Did his hands shake? His eyes, how did his eyes look?" Kitolis repeatedly insists that he didn't notice anything unusual. Alok is displeased. "You are not very observant old friend. I was so certain you'd have much to tell me." Kitolis begins to panic. "I helped you! I did what you asked! We had a deal," the old man cries. Alok laughs at the helpless man. "We'll burn some incense for you dear friend. Yes, we had a deal. You're being paid. Have no fear, I leave you in experienced hands - it's a beautiful thing. He is an artist." Alok exits the office. The man who sliced up Carl Wagner whips out his trusty blade and carves into Kitolis' throat.
At the same time across town, Lassiter meets with Cruz and Miss Walker, who acts cold and distant because of the prior evening's "tough love." Cruz informs Lassiter of a suspicious crime scene by the docks, and the three drive off to Kitolis' joint. As they enter the building, Inspector Cruz explains that Kitolis specializes in procurements. "Either he or Trevor left two bodies here yesterday."
Without warning, an Asian thug sprints out of the building. When the goon sees the cops, he runs back inside. Lassiter barrels after him. He corners the thug in Kitolis' office. The thug tries to beat Lassiter with a chair, but Lassiter puts his fist straight through the wood. Lassiter pins the bad guy against a wall and levels several karate chops at him. "You gonna tell me where Trevor is?" Inspector Cruz arrives and tells Lassiter to stop beating the man because they could use him for information. Lassiter halts his assault, but he flips his hair defiantly just to let Cruz know who's got the nicer hairdo.
After his dynamic hair flip, Lassiter assures Cruz that he didn't throw a single killing punch. Cruz replies, "Well it's a good thing you didn't because he knows a lot. Well make him talk. He'll talk. I promise you you can finish him off if he doesn't." The buzzing of flies draws Lassiter's attention to the hanging, bloody body of Kitolis. Lassiter looks away in disgust.
Time passes. We don't get to see the thug's interrogation, but we are to assume the police learned what they needed to know about Alok's plot. Lassiter meets Cruz near a helicopter and says, "Well officers, I hope that dude was telling the truth. How far is it to the wharf?" Cruz assures Lassiter that it's not far by air, and that the police units will close in on Trevor silently. Lassiter disapproves of Cruz's plan. "I'm against this. If you go rushing in there, Trevor might -might break." Cruz smiles knowingly. "Thank you, Mr. Lassiter. It's unfortunate your superiors didn't give you another option."
Lassiter begins to board the chopper, but Miss Walker stops him before he enters. "I know what you're going to do. You're going to try to take him down," she states. Lassiter replies, "It's the only thing I can do." She looks concerned. "But what are you going to do what if he resists?" Lassiter stares into her eyes and kisses her. She doesn't fight him. Without another word, he enters the helicopter and flies away.
At the wharf, Trevor and Lee Su gear up to receive their boat from Kitolis. Trevor prepares his paramour for possible trouble. "Alright - no matter what happens, you here stay in the car. It's going to be alright. Don't you move until I get back here." Lee Su seems worried, but agrees. "Trevor, will you kiss me?" He obliges. They smooch lovingly, then Trevor exits the vehicle.
Trevor slinks around a gate. He's visibly shaky and appears quite ill. He looks around for signs of a setup, then disappears out of sight. Once the coast is clear, an Alok thug approaches Lee Su, and drags her from the car at knifepoint. Before he can get very far, a ground force of policemen apprehends him. When she sees the secret police stakeout, Lee Su realizes that Trevor is walking into a trap. And she's helpless to stop it.
Nearby, Trevor creeps cautiously, looking for Kitolis. Suddenly, a voice bellows out: "Mr. Trevor. We are about to meet at last. There is no need to hide from me. You are completely surrounded. And we have the girl." Trevor looks to the distance and sees Alok and his goons. "Who are you?" Trevor yells. Alok strains to scream over boat horns and the ocean. "That doesn't matter, does it? I have something you want and you have something I want. Come out without your weapon, I will come out without mine. We can settle this without further trouble. Come out Mr. Trevor. Here is Mr. Lassiter's attaché case. Relief for you." Trevor throws down his weapon and asks, "Frank Lassiter is here?" The frustrated Alok hollers, "Come closer. I do not want to shout!" (Actually, the shouting is rather funny. Thanks for drawing attention to it, Alok.) Trevor enjoys the shouting as well, and tells Alok that he's not moving any closer. "Very well," shrieks Alok. "Project Kill is what I want. I want to know everything about it. I will trade you the girl's life, that and a considerable sum of money. In any currency you name. Your contact had an accident. You can have this boat if you agree to my request. The girl will be returned to you, you have my word."
Trevor smells a rat, but is concerned about his new lover. "Let he girl go now!" he demands. "I cannot do that Mr. Trevor," says Alok. "I have invested a large sum in you. If I have to do one more to get what I want I will." Trevor grows angry. "You've been following me for some time now haven't you?" Alok beams with pride. "Do not use the word 'following'. 'Investigated' a better word. It started from Mr. Wagner, and …" The thunder of a helicopter distracts Alok before he can finish his sentence. Trevor takes advantage of Alok's confusion and attacks his three bodyguards. He swiftly dispatches them with deadly karate chops. Alok flees during the commotion, but Trevor is close behind.
The police helicopter lands. Lassiter and a team of cops leap out. He instructs them to stop Alok's boat at the end of the pier. They comply. Elsewhere, the ground team engages Alok's thugs with gunfire and grenades. The cops successfully wipe out the remaining Asian strongmen.
Trevor closes in on Alok. The chubby black market overlord tries to weasel his way out of an ugly fate (which might have been more successful had he NOT admitted to murdering all of Trevor's friends). Alok whines like a frightened puppy. "I not do anything. I'm no bad man. Mr. Trevor, please!" Trevor's eyes ignite with hatred. He snaps Alok's arm, and delivers multiple crushing punches. "This is for an old friend!" Trevor screams as his fist crashes into Alok's skull. "And this is for the sailor!" His final strike kills Alok. He stares at the lifeless bloated body for a few seconds, then rises to leave the area.
He doesn't get very far. Lassiter appears and blocks Trevor's path. "John, you gotta come back with me." Trevor shakes his head. "Frank, I'm not going back." Lassiter draws in a deep breath. "Well, I have to take ya." Trevor remains firm, despite his obvious physical weakness born of the drug withdrawal. "I'm going around you. If you think you could take me then go ahead and try. Otherwise, step aside." Trevor tries to walk past Lassiter peacefully, but the younger agent won't budge.
They approach each other like crazed animals. Trevor assumes a defensive pose. Lassiter strikes first with a kick. Trevor goes down but recovers quickly. Trevor lands two hard punches, briefly knocking the wind out of Lassiter. The two men face each other again - this time Lassiter fakes out Trevor with a false chop, then kicks his former mentor in the jaw. Trevor plunges to the ground. Lassiter stands over his unwell trainer. "You know what I have to do. You taught me. Priority One and all of that." Trevor won't give up, even in his weakened state. "Well that's your problem isn't it Frank?" Trevor is obviously injured, but he gathers his composure and rises to his feet. Lassiter is pretty battered at this point, too. Trevor makes one more attempt at leaving peacefully. He turns his back to his old student.
"JOHN!" barks Lassiter. Trevor spins around to see Lassiter gearing up for a running jump kick. He blocks Frank's kick and knocks the younger agent down. Trevor crouches over Lassiter and tries in earnest to break his neck. Trevor begins to lose his grip on the struggling Lassiter. Frank flips his mentor over his back, and lands several sledgehammer-like punches to Trevor's chest. John falls to the ground.
Lassiter backs away from the injured senior agent. Trevor's weak and ill, yet he still manages to pick himself up to face his former friend. "What's wrong, Frank?" he asks caustically. Lassiter is visibly upset. He tries to reason with Trevor one last time. "Come back, John!"
"What's a matter, do you need some help?" taunts Trevor. He raises his arm to simulate a deathblow. Lassiter erupts into a primal scream. In slow motion, he delivers one final, brutal, skull-crunching strike to Trevor's face. Trevor goes down. His injuries are fatal, but he's not dead yet. A beat-to-hell Lassiter stands over Trevor's twitching body. Lee Su arrives on the scene, and cries softly when she sees her dying lover. Trevor struggles to offer Lassiter a final warning. "Now they're going to come after you." As he dies, Trevor exchanges a helpless, hopeless glance with Lee Su. Then the government maverick breathes his last breath.
Lassiter squeezes his eyes shut as if in extreme emotional pain. Then slowly, solemnly, he rises. He is too distressed to flip his hair.
Inspector Cruz approaches the bruised agent. "Your briefcase, Mr. Lassiter." Frank takes the attaché and looks out toward the ocean. Several military ships loom on the horizon. Trevor's last words haunt Frank. "Now they're going to come after you."
Lassiter hurls his drug-laden briefcase into the sea. The Lonely Man theme plays behind him as he walks away to face his own bitter future.
The following commentary on the film Project Kill comes from three of the people who knew Bill Girdler best.
Among other things, J. Patrick Kelly III was Bill's best friend, brother-in-law, and business partner. Joe Schulten handled the insurance for most of Girdler's movies, he was Bill's Best Man, and he also served as an investor and occasional FX artist. David Sheldon produced Project Kill, wrote the original story, and he also collaborated on several other popular Girdler movies.
J. PATRICK KELLY III: I flew over with Bill and Dave Sheldon months before we started the movie to scout locations. We got cheap seats on Philippine Airlines through our Philippine contact, who I think worked for or with, "Audie" Aquirre, whose father was the money man on the project. Anyway, I was always amazed that we flew back and forth on 747's with tickets that had no dollar amount listed on them. Oh well! Then we returned home. The deal was made that the "Aquirre group" would fund all the expenses associated with production in P.I., in exchange for the rights to distribute the movie in P.I. and surrounding countries. American International would fund film, key talent and post-production expenses for rights to the rest of the world.
Then I flew back over about three weeks before the movie shoot started and began location arrangements, hiring staff, renting cars, lining up local movie equipment, etc. I was put up in the brand new resort hotel complex that Mr. Aquirre was part owner of -- outside (South of ) Manila. We were pretty isolated there, but the resort was beautiful. Years later I visited again and noted that the Hotel complex had tripled in size and was a
We received great cooperation from all levels of government and the people of P.I.. I was even made an honorary member of the Philippine Constabulary - their national police force. We needed only to ask for permission to use something and it was granted to us. Two incidents stand out most clearly in my mind. One was the delightful weekend cruise we had across
Another incident I recall was the trouble that erupted with Mr. Aquirre when they received the final bill from the hotel at the end of our visit. Seems they thought we would pay for all food, drink and incidentals - whereas we were of the opinion that all expenses at the hotel would be picked up by their side. A difference of about $20,000. over the three months as I recall. Boy! Was he hot - I stayed low, because I wasn't in on the financial dealings, so I couldn't say who was right. It did create a bit of a unpleasant chord at the very end of our visit however, and I often wondered if they greeted Billy as warmly when he returned to consider the next project over there - the trip where he died.
By the way, when you watch Project Kill, notice the shoulder patches on the uniforms. I designed those and had them made - based on the old Armor triangle patches from my Army days. A small but nice authentic touch I thought.
JOE SCHULTEN: I used to say Project Kill was a mediocre film with worldwide distribution. That's what it was meant to be. Some little guy from the
Project Kill was supposed to be distributed in a lot of countries. Nancy Kwan was an international star at the time, and it was booked up all over the place. But the man who was going to distribute the movie was either killed or committed suicide right before the film was scheduled to come out. So the release was tied up in an estate dispute. I don't think Project Kill was ever released to movie theaters. I think it only showed up on cable in the eighties.
DAVID SHELDON: I conceived the story for Project Kill, adapting a story that I had written called "The Kill Machine." I gave it to my friend Don Thompson to write as a new screenplay. I was supposed to direct Project Kill and Bill produce it, but I was having so many problems raising the financing that I had to let Bill do most of the directing. The intent of our partnership was that we take turns directing and producing.
Project Kill was released in the theaters, though not a very wide release. It has been on television quite a bit and there's a home video in the stores. We pulled the picture from Arnold Kopelson (Inter-Ocean Films) who was supposed to distribute the film overseas, but was taking too long. A company called Sterling Gold tried to take it next, but the owner was found murdered (organized crime style). Finally, I put it with Picturmedia who released it theatrically and sold the home video rights. The CEO of Picturmedia is Doro Vlado Hreljanovic. Picturmedia has done a poor job in releasing the picture. It deserves more.