Action greats Robert Ginty (The Exterminator, Exterminator 2) and Sandahl Bergman (Conan the Barbarian, She) square off for deadly combat in this high-tech tale of a lethally beautiful killer android on a rampage of inhuman revenge! Captured in a daring raid by ex-CIA agent Eric Mathews (Ginty), the merciless terrorist hit-woman Samira (Bergman) is brought to the U.S., where she undergoes experimental brain surgery. Transformed into an unstoppable bionic warrior, she returns to the Middle East, where she obediently wipes out all of her former comrades. But when a malfunction reactivates Samira’s human memories, she launches into a frenzy of cold-blooded vengeance. As she methodically terminates her CIA adversaries, only Mathews can halt her murderous onslaught! Directed by Allan Holzman (Forbidden World), Programmed to Kill (a.k.a. The Retaliator) is a gripping, futuristic action thriller that also stars James Booth (Avenging Force) and a young Paul Walker (Fast & Furious).
For thoughts on Programmed To Kill, please check out our discussion on The Video Attic:
Programmed To Kill debuts on Blu-Ray with a digital AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.85:1 from a 2K scan of the interpositive. The presentation is pretty enjoyable throughout with only occasional soft long shots and an errant bit of minor damage here and there. The release does not appear to be plagued by digital tinkering, as this transfer maintains the natural film grain of the presentation which resolves fairly well. Overall clarity and detail is good, and skin tones are natural and consistent with subtle facial features easily noticeable in closeup. Colors are well saturated with a good handle on environments. Black levels could be stronger with crush becoming a slight issue in some of the darker moments. This presentation from Kino Classics does a nice job of bringing this film back to the public consciousness.
The Blu-Ray disc comes with a DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio track that suits the film as well as it needs to. The score complements the movie favorably throughout the duration of the film, as it creates an adventurous tone for the film. There is never a moment where it threatens to overwhelm competing sounds, and it maintains a strong balance so that dialogue comes through clearly. Environmental sounds such as the gunfire and explosions are rendered well alongside various active locales. There does not seem to be any majorly noticeable instances of age-related wear and tear. Kino Classics has done a nice job with the audio presentation.
- Audio Commentary: Director Allan Holzman provides an informative commentary track moderated by Filmmaker Douglas Hosdale in which they discuss the rocky background of the project, the location shooting of the picture, the cast and characters, trying to piece together a coherent movie, the release and audience reception to the film, the ways in which the film fails to be the best version of itself and much more that is very enlightening.
- Kill or Be Killed – Interview with Screenwriter Robert Short: A new nine-minute interview with Short in which he discusses how he got involved with the project, the complicated script process, how the story evolved from the initial concept, the film’s release and reception, and much more.
- Alternate Opening Title: A 23-second alternate title with the title The Retaliator is provided here.
- Trailers: The two-minute trailer for Programmed To Kill is provided here. There are also trailers provided for She, Stryker, Black Moon Rising, Ghost Warrior and The Time Guardian.
Programmed To Kill is pretty cheesy throughout the journey, but it is the type of gonzo storytelling that can yield a good time if in the right mindframe. The dueling visions of the film can make it feel like a bit of a patchwork at best and chaotic at worst. There are so many films that do what this film is attempting better, but fans of the genre might just find some unique things to appreciate. Kino Classics has brought this one to Blu-Ray with a good A/V presentation and a couple of engaging special features. If you are a fan of silly, high concept action films from this period, this should satisfy.
Programmed To Kill is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray and DVD.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Kino Classics has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.