King of Killers Review

Alain Moussi and Frank Grillo headline this poorly executed action flick designed to kick off a multimedia franchise

PLOT: Based on a graphic novel, King of Killers follows former Agency hitman Marcus Garan as he attempts to unravel the mystery behind a tragic incident. When offered a $10 million contract to eliminate the world’s greatest assassin, Marcus travels to Tokyo to meet the client, but discovers other professional killers have been invited as well. Now Marcus and the others must confront this deadly, mythical assassin… or die trying.

REVIEW: Action movies are a dime a dozen, with only a select few getting the financial backing to get on the radar of most audiences. For every John Wick and Mission: Impossible, countless other projects are cobbled together for a fraction of the money allotted to the big franchises. Despite a cast that includes genre mainstays like Frank Grillo, Alain Moussi, and Stephen Dorff, King of Killers is an atrociously bad attempt to not only play with the big boys but also kick off a franchise comprised of feature films and television series. Adapted from the graphic novel of the same name, King of Killers brings absolutely nothing new to the genre and fails even to deliver a pulpy, B-movie good time.

Written and directed by Kevin Grevioux, who also wrote the graphic novel that inspired it, King of Killers opens with assassin Marcus Garan (Alain Moussi) donning a terrible fake mustache to take down a crew of gangsters as directed by his handler, Robert Xane (Stephen Dorff). Dispatching the thugs with minimal effort, Garan returns to his Chicago home, where his wife, Karla (Amy Groening), and daughter Kimberly (Zoe Worn) are waiting. Marcus has found balance between his two lives until a job goes awry one night, and Karla is killed in the process. Then, Marcus gets the extra kick in the nuts when his daughter falls terminally ill. That is when an invitation arrives at the behest of the world’s greatest assassin and self-proclaimed King of Killers, Jorg Drakos (Frank Grillo).

With the promise of a multi-million payout if he can kill Drakos, Marcus heads to Tokyo. There, he discovers that Drakos has assembled all the elite assassins in the world to see who can kill him. Obviously, Drakos being the titular King of Killers means it won’t be easy. Over the course of the film, these various killers must try to assassinate Drakos, who has set up a funhouse of obstacles to prevent them from succeeding. These killers include director Kevin Grevioux, a veteran of the Underworld franchise he also co-created, George St-Pierre, Marie Avgeropoulos, Shannon Kook, and more. Each assassin has their own style and approach, none of which are quite a match for Drakos. Marcus tries to find a way for them to team up and take down their quarry, which comes with its own strings.

As a movie buff, I can enjoy low-budget films when they have any competence behind the camera. Kevin Grevioux struggles to give this film any style as the camerawork looks like it was done as a test run and then used as the finished product. In the first half-hour, every scene ends with a fade out and then back in. There are choppy zooms into close-ups after the camera has already zoomed in. The CGI blood is fine, but there is also CGI smoke and CGI broken glass, the latter of which is meant to come from a broken window behind Frank Grillo but, in the very next shot, is exploding around his face like a PowerPoint transition. Scenes featuring Frank Grillo talking to a camera are reused as the scenes the other characters see, with no explanation for why Grillo is looking off to the side instead of at the camera. All of these together are quite intrusive and make it challenging to take this movie seriously.

King of Killers review

The action includes multiple instances of Alain Moussi breaking someone’s leg by elbowing it and seeing it bend the wrong way and characters smashing through walls that are clearly plywood and not drywall with any insulation. These could all be written off as budgetary constraints, but none compares to the script, which makes little to no sense. The concept that Jorg Drakos has assembled these assassins to try and kill him is the central focus for ninety percent of the movie when Grevioux throws such a massive, nonsensical curveball that is clearly designed to set up a sequel. There is also the twist at the very end of the film that may be teasing a supernatural element to the story. This may work in a comic book, but it is laughable and completely idiotic on screen.

With the knowledge that a prequel television series is already in development to explore the backstory of Marcus Garan and the blatant tease of a sequel film, King of Killers may not be going away any time soon. The film will surely draw in some audiences due to the inclusion of Frank Grillo. Still, the actor who proved he has the chops for headlining projects like Boss Level is relegated to delivering wooden dialogue and fighting in repetitive and poorly lit action scenes that do not do his physical skills justice or any other cast members. I expected much more from King of Killers for a crew of stunt veterans. I did not expect Oscar-caliber acting but hoped for at least a few competent action scenes. Sadly, King of Killers disappoints in every way.

3

Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/king-of-killers-review/

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