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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Oct 24, 2023



ONE OF THE most frequently repeated characters in action films is that of the hired killer, specially one who wants to retire but his foes won’t let him. The best examples are “John Wick”, “Kill Bill”, “Collateral”. “The Professional”, etc.

In “King of Killers”, the lead character who’s an assassin is Marcus Garan (played by Canadian actor and martial artist Allan Moussi), who leads a double life as he tells his unsuspecting wife, Karla (Amy Groening), that he is a salesman. 

On their wedding anniversary, they intend to go out for dinner, but the boss of Marcus calls him and asks him to do another job. 

His boss won’t take no for an answer, so he goes to the club where he’s supposed to kill someone. He doesn’t know that someone called Karla and tells her to go to the same club to meet Marcus. 

This is where Karla dies when someone shoots her while Marcus is doing his job. Marcus doesn’t know who killed his wife.


Instead of taking revenge, he chooses to retire and spend his time taking care of his daughter, Kimberly (Zoe Worn). 

But he is such a consummate hired killer to be left alone. A man, Robert Xane (Stephen Dorff), soon contacts him and offers him a job where he will be paid no less than $10 million as the prize money. 

His daughter turns out to have a heart ailment that needs to be operated on, so he accepts the job for her treatment

It turns out that the mission is a contest and he will be playing with other well known hired killers.

The other assassins are Asha (Marie Avgeropoulos), the only woman; Ren Hiro (Shannon Kook), the only Asian; Dyson Cord (Kevin Grevioux, who wrote the graphic novel on which the film is based and is also the film’s writer and director), the only black; Rick Nigel (Ryan Tarran) and Andre Lecroix (George St. Pierre.) Another Japanese assassin turns up later (Shara Kim.)

It is revealed that the kingpin they all have to face and try to kill is Drakos (Frank Grillo), one of the most notorious assassins in the world.

The twist is that it is Drakos himself who organized the whole shebang and contracted them. He also made sure Garan would not back out.

At first, his motivations are not clear. Maybe he just wants to prove to all and sundry that he is the best killer among all hired killers? The real reason will be revealed later, and it’s up to us viewers to buy it or reject it. 

The contestants then face him one by one. He seems sure that Garan would be the last survivor. But what if the five other killers were more cunning and got to kill him first before he faced off with Garan?

In all fairness, though, the one on one death matches are all ferociously well staged. The action scenes are quite gripping as you know the contestants are actually trapped in Drakos’ lair and he has the upper hand because he is fully prepared to fight each of them in a battle to the death.

In the end, it looks like that the movie is made with a sequel in mind and introducing the characters of Garan and Drakos is part of its world building that they can explore better in the next films. 

The central conflict is not really resolved and the two look like they will end up as comrades instead of enemies.

It’s good that unlike a lot of action films nowadays, “King of Killers” does not rely on heavy CGI scenes but keep the hard action scenes as realistic as possible.

The movie may not rewrite the action-hired killer playbook, but it offers enough thrills to keep your pulse pounding, specially with the committed performances of Alain Moussi and Frank Grillo in the lead roles.