Directed by: William Lustig
Starring: Jan-Michael Vincent, Leo Rossi, Rip Torn, Charles Napier, Ken Lerner, Frank Pesce, Junior Richard, and Lance Henriksen
Vic Luca (Torn) is a John Gotti-like mob boss who is going to be convicted in court - if his mob underlings can testify. But Luca sends a shoe salesman/psychopathic hit man, Caleek (Henriksen) to kill them so they can’t spill the beans. Purely by chance, Caleek invades the home of innocent man Jack Collins (Vincent), intent on killing him, believing him to be potential informant Frank DeSalvo (Rossi). DeSalvo is being protected before the trial by Tom Mitchum (Napier), an FBI agent on the edge, in a house across the street. When Caleek kidnaps Collins’ son and puts his wife in the hospital - and Luca’s goons cross DeSalvo as well - the two guys create an unlikely partnership to get revenge.
Why is this movie so under-appreciated and unrecognized? If you said to someone “Oh, I watched Hit List last night”, more than likely, they would say, “Huh?” That’s unfortunate, as a movie with the star quality this movie has, directed by William Lustig SHOULD be a well-known “video store classic” as we say. Maybe now that can start to be corrected.
Here we get to see Lance Henriksen as you really want to see him - in a very meaty role as an incredibly brutal bad guy. It’s truly “Lance Unleashed” as he has an evil beret and an evil crossbow/grappling hook/zipline, as well as some nasty martial arts moves. Leo Rossi is also memorable as DeSalvo, a man who still believes in the codes of honor of the mafia - at least for a while. Vincent mainly just says “Gimme back my son” many times, which, of course, predates Ransom (1996). Rip Torn, who doesn’t often appear in movies like this, puts in an off-kilter, energetic role. Even Charles Napier gets to flex some muscle.
But, by far, the two best things about Hit List are 1. This movie is really politically incorrect - it was made in a time before PC stuff existed and it’s really beautiful to watch. Thank God things like this were preserved for posterity. and 2. the scene in the Photon arcade. (For those that don’t know, Photon was a competitor to Laser Tag, and in some places was replaced by Q-Zar, where kids run around with laser guns and shoot each other). Another awesome preservation.
In all, Hit List is an enjoyable film with a nice pace with a lot of familiar faces. What’s not to like?
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty