The Hour Of The Assassin (1987)

Director: Luis Llosa
Starring: Erik Estrada, Robert Vaughn, Alfred Alvarex Calderon, Orlando Sacho, Francisco Giraldo
Music: Fred Myrow

This South American derivative of The Day Of The Jackal is loud, poorly directed, and poorly edited. It’s rare, even when I am watching a bad film (and heaven knows I watch enough of those), that I don’t find something to enjoy, but by the 40 minute mark of this turkey, I just wanted the movie to end. Maybe if The Hour Of The Assassin had been tightened up, so it actually only ran for an hour, then maybe I wouldn’t be so down on this movie. But this production is bottom of the barrel.

The movie is set in the fictitious South American country of San Pedro, and they have just elected a new President, Roberto Villaverde (Francisco Giraldo). Villaverde, who has yet to be inaugurated, plans sweeping reform to the country, leading it towards democracy. Naturally, such radical changes are not welcomed by those who like the status quo.

The film opens with the President-elect, surrounded by heavy security, brushing past the press to his car. Then an escorted motorcade weaves through the streets. A cadre of villains have positioned themselves along the motorcades route, and ambush the President-elects car. At the centre of the ambush is a school bus full of kids, which the ambushers have hijacked. It’s hard to return fire at a bus load of kids.

Villaverde’s car breaks out of the blockade and a high speed pursuit and gun battle ensues. Its a clumsily edited, noisy and particularly uninspired sequence. The highlight, is when the Presidential vehicle collides with a fruit vendors stall. How many times have you seen a car chase, where a vehicle collides with a fruit vendors stall?

Eventually all the bad guys are dead except one. He had been on a motorbike, and now is lying injured on the road. The Chief of Security walks up to the bad guy and shoots him, only after telling him that he ‘blew it!’ So now we know who the bad guy is – the Chief of Security. But Villaverde is safe for now, but he will go into hiding until the inauguration.

The Security Chief meets with a bunch of other military officials who were also behind the attempt on the Villaverde’s life. This had been their third assassination attempt that had failed. They need a new strategy, and decide to call in a specialist. This man is Martin Fierro (Erik Estrada).

Arriving in San Pedro is Sam Merrick (Robert Vaughn). Merrick is an American CIA agent, and he believes another attempt will be made on Villaverde’s life. He also realises that group assassinations haven’t worked, so most likely, the next attempt will be made by a single sniper on inauguration day. Merrick then sets out to find who that man could be.

The Security Chief arranges for Fierro to get across the border without any paperwork. Merrick was expecting something like this, and questions one of the border patrol guards. Just as the guard is about to reveal who has organised for Fierro to get through, he is shot dead.

Just in the interests of a fair-minded review, I have tried to find some positives in this movie. Even then it’s a bit of a double edged sword. Robert Vaughn’s performance in this film is quite okay, and he shows he still has screen charisma, but he is too old for this shit. The other passable element is the pan flute on the soundtrack. It’s not an instrument that we are used to hearing in an action film and it has a nice feel. But it is only used for the peaceful moments.. For the action scenes, the score reverts to synth rock which is appalling.

I’d give The Hour Of The Assassin a miss.

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