Action Movie Fanatix Review: Lessons For An Assassin

Lessons For An Assassin banner

Kill Without Emotion.

Starring: Shannon Lee, Michael Dorn, Nicholas Guest, John Billingsley, Dan Frischman, Robert Vitelli

Director: Ines Glenn

2003  |  84 Minutes  |  Rated R

“The Corporation expects great things from all of you.  Do not let us down.” – Mr. Quinn

Another pawn store pickup (I do love ‘em).  This time featuring Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon, and a spelling error in the MOVIE TITLE on the FRONT COVER and SPINE.  WTF graphic artists?  Assasin?

Criminal Gavin Matthews (Robert Vitelli) finds himself the unwilling recruit of The Corporation, a top secret pseudo-government organization.  The Corporation, led by Mr. Quinn (Michael Dorn) is training Gavin and a number of other criminals to be elite assassins.  When Gavin and his trainer Fiona (Shannon Lee) discover the real purpose of the Corporation they must fight back before The Corporation no longer has any use for their service.

The opening shootout involves at least four different groups with no explanation of what is going on or who any of these various groups are (other than the uzi wielding cops).  None of that matters though, the only important thing is that this douchy looking guy gets captured.

I’m a fan of assassins and hitmen in movies but generally when I go to see a movie about a man who kills for a living I want to see him actually kill someone.  Not just train for it.  Lessons for an Assassin spends the majority of its less than an hour and a half run time on watching a guy learn how to shoot a gun, fight, see through an envelope (ala Carnac the Magnificent – Sim Sala Bim) and apparently computer programming.

Gavin Matthews must have been their chosen one or something.  I have no idea why.  Other guys were killed for lipping off or trying to escape but good ole Gavin keeps getting warnings for doing the exact same thing.  His first couple training sequences are painfully bad.  Instead of just struggling a little this supposed career criminal acts like he has never picked up a handgun before in his life.  The movie also hints at Gavin having some low level of psychic or remote viewing abilities but then never touches on it again.

I’m not sure if Robert Vitelli normally looks like this or if this douchy character is strictly created for this movie.  Bleached blonde spiky hair and goatee, horrible tattoos, a chain around his neck, cutoff black shorts, constant smoking or looking at internet porn and to top that off he is apparently the least coordinated man who ever lived.  Sounds like the perfect choice to be a top secret assassin, right?  I could not despise this character more.  My guess is he laid down some money to get this movie made (he is credited as Executive Producer) just so that he could star alongside Bruce Lee’s daughter (and grab her breast) and his Trekkie hero Worf.  Not shockingly, Mr. Vitelli hasn’t done a whole ton since Lessons for an Assassin.

I’ve never been much of a Trekkie myself but seeing Michael Dorn as Mr. Quinn reminded me of why I always kinda liked Worf.  He (especially his voice) has a certain power behind him without necessarily having to get physical with someone.  He just seems like a badass even though I don’t remember him beating guys down all the time.

Shannon Lee does fine with what she is given here.  She is obviously a very competent martial artist and isn’t a bad actress but even Bruce Lee’s own flesh and blood couldn’t save this mess.  And unfortunately it doesn’t look like she has done any acting since this.

The action all takes place inside the headquarters/offices of The Corporation or inside a strip club (huh!?).  The martial arts by the “heroes” isn’t bad but the filming and takers of the beatings don’t seem to know what they are doing.  The worst of it all is the gun play.  There is actually a scene where Gavin spins in an office chair while shooting uzis in all directions and of course not getting hit by anyone even though they are less than ten feet away and he is dead center in the middle of a room with no cover.  The blood sprays out looking much more like water with red food coloring than real blood and I am wishing that somehow one of those uzi rounds would come whirling through my TV to end the pain of watching this steaming pile.

The end finally and mercifully comes with a weird twist ending reminiscent of The Game and then sends another ending your way that makes even less sense than the first ending.

I have this weird conflict in me after watching this horrible movie.  Part of me wants to take this DVD out back and put it to rest the old fashioned way with a 12 gauge but the completist in me wants to hold on to it just to have it on the shelf next to my Bruce and Brandon Lee movies.  For now I am forced to hang on to it at least until I can borrow someone’s shotgun but my recommendation to all who read this… STAY AWAY!