1 1/2 StarsAssassins’ Code continues the recent trend of casting known actors in films that resemble student thesis projects rather than professional filmmaking. Shot on practical locations at what appear to be friends’ houses the production was obviously lensed on a short schedule and very low budget. Within those limitations, director Lawrence Riggins has fashioned a sometimes interesting but mostly shoddy wannabe action flick. Riggins is also credited as co-screenwriter on the overly complicated screenplay that involves many cover-ups, double crosses and various shadow government agencies. The writers seem to be stretching for something in the vein of early Seagal films like Above the Law and Hard to Kill. I can appreciate that but those pictures had a solid leading man and in Assassins’ Code we are left with three uncharismatic leads and a few recognizable faces that should know better than to appear in something at this level.
Min-su Choi is North Korean agent Karl Kim. Choi has a cool Chow Yun Fat meets Sonny Chiba vibe. I liked his charisma and would have enjoyed him in the protagonist role, instead of the impish Juilan Temple. Like most martial artists turned actors Temple is at his best when he lets his body and physical presence do most of the acting. When he is required to engage in (badly dubbed) dialogue scenes, he simply lacks the conviction and intensity needed for his tough guy role. Still a few sequences propel the film forward briskly enough that undiscriminating fans will be entertained. Others may appreciate the over-the-top performance by John Savage and a rare screen apperance from former teen idol Christopher Atkins, though most will be disappointed in the lackluster production values and lame fight scenes.
Director: Lawrence Riggins
Stars: Julian Lee, Min-su Choi, John Savage