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Killer Elite, The (United Artists 1975, James Caan, Robert Duvall)



The Killer Elite sees James Caan and Robert Duvall, together again after The Godfather. The pair play a team of high-tech spies who become enemies after Duvall gravely wounds Caan in a shootout. After a torturous recovery, Caan is finally ready to get back into action. With revenge uppermost on his mind, he learns that Duvall is head of a hit team stalking a Chinese national, and is eager to take on the assignment of protecting the man.

More reserved than the usual films from director Sam Peckinpah, and with a greater emphasis on character psychology, this inside-the-spy-life thriller still has more than its share of edge-of-your-seat action.

The Killer Elite was Sam Peckinpah’s eleventh film as a director, but only his third that was not a western. Before he began directing films, he was associated almost exclusively with western-oriented TV material, i.e Gunsmoke, The Rifleman, The Westerner. The Killer Elite was his first urban movie.

Michael Billington writing in the Illustrated London News called the movie ‘a mysterious, elliptical, visually triumphant film about personal survival in a world of mean-minded machination.’

production details
USA | United Artists | 122 minutes | 1975
Director: Sam Peckinpah
Script: Stirling Silliphant, Marc Norman, Robert Syd Hopkins,

Victor Sen Yung as Wei Chi (as Victor Sen Young)
Bo Hopkins as Jerome Miller
Gig Young as Lawrence Weyburn
Mako as Yuen Chung
Robert Duvall as George Hansen
Helmut Dantine as Vorodny
James Caan as MIke Locken
Arthur Hill as Cap Collis
Burt Young as Mac
Tom Clancy as O’Leary
Tiana Alexandra as Tommie
Walter Kelley as Walter
Kate Heflin as Amy
Sondra Blake as Josephine
Carole Mallory as Rita
James Wing Woo as Tao Yi
George Cheung as Bruce
Uschi Digard as Girl at Party (uncredited)