Lessons for an Assassin (2003)

Rating: D+

Dir: James Glenn Dudelson
Star: Robert Vitelli, Shannon Lee, Michael Dorn

Or Le Homme Nikita as this deserves to be called – for the first 70 minutes at least. Lowlife Gavin Matthews (Vitelli) finds his past erased, and is forced to embark on a training program for The Corporation under Fiona (Lee) and her boss (Doss). However, are they actually a government wing, as they claim? The answer there will likely come as no shock; however, the actual explanation offered is phenomenally unexpected. The film doesn’t just pull the rug out from under you, it then rolls the rug up and beats you over the head with it. This isn’t necessarily a good thing, mind, and nor is it ever a good sign when the title of a film is mis-spelled on the sleeve.

Despite a tiny budget – the evil empire of The Corporation is three rooms, one corridor and a handful of guards – Vitelli does at least play a different kind of hero. He starts off chain-smoking and inept, rather than having the usual freakishly natural abilities, which is kinda endearing. When he finally becomes proficient, he’s a lot less interesting, and the strange subplot involving his remote viewing capabilities never goes anywhere at all. The fights aren’t terrible (the choreography is by Koichi Sakamoto, who worked on the wonderful Drive), but the longer this goes on, the less interesting it gets – then the finale trumps everything. You likely won’t forget this, just not for the right reasons.