Assassin Club is an unfortunately titled actioner, that’s fortunately a great throw back to those direct to video titles that used big names to do one thing, deliver the two fisted goods, and this film most definitely does that. The latest by Camille Delamarre (Brick Mansions and The Transporter Refueled), stars Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians, G.I. JOE: SNAKE EYES) as a hit man with a heart of gold, you know the kind – he only kills “bad people”; who after falling in love is looking to retire. When he informs his handler/mentor (Sam Neill) of this, in true genre fashion, he’s notified he has one final job to complete before he can walk off into the sunset. This contract has him killing seven other assassins, all with a bounty of a million dollars per kill. The only problem is he quickly discovers his targets all have the same contract.
The pacing and tone feel a bit uneven at times as Henry Golding attempts double duty as action star and love interest, paired with the most annoying on-screen significant other since Fabienne in Pulp Fiction. While the film runs at nearly two hours, I can’t help but believe there’s a leaner, meaner sub 90 minute cut to he had here. Luckily the bullets and bloodshed more makes up for those shortcomings along with the rest of the cast who clearly understood the assignment, including the plenty smarmy Sam Neill and Noomi Rapace, who is the biggest surprise here – as the heavy. Rapace is just having a blast, chewing the scenery and eventually going full feral Nic Cage in the third act. She’s truly more than a match for our leading man who is forced to spend the finale fighting for his life and the film, trying not to lose either to Rapace.
The action set pieces surprisingly go bigger than expected, and really work as the glue to hold the rest of the shakier narrative pieces together. That said, Assassin Club is a pulpy actioner that eventually lives up to the movie you hoped it could be. It’s just the challenge of getting there, that might be too arduous for some. Golding proves he still has the action star chops in a movie that at times gives him too much to care about, opposite the maniacal Rapace who just wants to watch the world burn. It’s a deliciously chaotic and sometimes lopsided dynamic that mostly works, and at least is entertaining. With Assassin Club Delamarre delivers a solid watch that is essentially a hitman Battle Royale, which’ll keep you guessing just who of the seven will collect that 7 million, and how many times can Golding take off his shirt in slow motion.
ASSASSIN CLUB is Available to Buy on Digital May 16, 2023 and on DVD & Blu-ray June 6, 2023