Hard to Kill (1990)

R | 97 mins | Drama | 9 February 1990

Director:

Bruce Malmuth

Writer:

Steven McKay

Cinematographer:

Matthew F. Leonetti

Editor:

John F. Link

Production Designer:

Robb Wilson King

Production Company:

Warner Bros., Inc.
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HISTORY

       Filming began 3 Apr 1989 under the title Seven Year Storm, the 31 March 1989 DV and 4 Apr 1989 HR noted. The 2 Jul 1989 LAT announced that principal photography would end three days later. In an interview in the 22 Nov 1989 HR, executive producer Lee Rich explained that the film had already tested well with different audiences, and he was considering changing the title to Hard to Kill.
       According to studio notes in AMPAS library files, and observations of the AFI Catalog researcher, Hard to Kill was filmed at various locations around Southern California, including the Todd Shipyard in San Pedro, Saddlerock Ranch in Agoura, the Los Angeles Zoo, Century City, Malibu, Venice, Union Station and the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, Queen of Angels Hospital in Hollywood, Los Angeles National Cemetery in Westwood, the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, and Burbank Studios in Burbank.
       During filming in downtown Los Angeles, a drive-by shooter fired several bullets at the production’s wardrobe trailers, the 1 May 1989 Orange County Register reported. Producers hired a bodyguard to protect actress Kelly Le Brock. They also offered protection for Le Brock's costar and real-life husband, Steven Seagal, but he declined.
       Warner Bros. did not screen the film for the press before release, the 12 Feb 1990 DV review noted, and critics were generally snide or harsh. However, the 4 Feb 1993 HR reported that the $11.5-million film was the highest-grossing Feb release in motion picture history to that time. Within three years gross worldwide receipts for ... More Less

       Filming began 3 Apr 1989 under the title Seven Year Storm, the 31 March 1989 DV and 4 Apr 1989 HR noted. The 2 Jul 1989 LAT announced that principal photography would end three days later. In an interview in the 22 Nov 1989 HR, executive producer Lee Rich explained that the film had already tested well with different audiences, and he was considering changing the title to Hard to Kill.
       According to studio notes in AMPAS library files, and observations of the AFI Catalog researcher, Hard to Kill was filmed at various locations around Southern California, including the Todd Shipyard in San Pedro, Saddlerock Ranch in Agoura, the Los Angeles Zoo, Century City, Malibu, Venice, Union Station and the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, Queen of Angels Hospital in Hollywood, Los Angeles National Cemetery in Westwood, the Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills, and Burbank Studios in Burbank.
       During filming in downtown Los Angeles, a drive-by shooter fired several bullets at the production’s wardrobe trailers, the 1 May 1989 Orange County Register reported. Producers hired a bodyguard to protect actress Kelly Le Brock. They also offered protection for Le Brock's costar and real-life husband, Steven Seagal, but he declined.
       Warner Bros. did not screen the film for the press before release, the 12 Feb 1990 DV review noted, and critics were generally snide or harsh. However, the 4 Feb 1993 HR reported that the $11.5-million film was the highest-grossing Feb release in motion picture history to that time. Within three years gross worldwide receipts for Hard to Kill totaled $75 million, and the film sold 350,000 video units in the United States alone.
      An opening card gives time and date: “1983 Los Angeles.” A transition card announces: “1990, seven years later, L.A. Coma Center.” End credits provide the following information: “ The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson footage supplied courtesy of Carson Tonight, Inc.; Geraldo footage courtesy of The Investigative News Group, Inc. and Tribune Entertainment Company.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
Apr 1990.
---
Daily Variety
31 Mar 1989
p. 16
Daily Variety
2 Aug 1989
p. 3
Daily Variety
12 Feb 1990
p. 3, 13
Hollywood Reporter
4 Apr 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Apr 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Nov 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 Feb 1990
p. 4, 18
Hollywood Reporter
4 Feb 1993
p. 8
Los Angeles Times
2 Jul 1989
Calendar, p. 25
Los Angeles Times
12 Feb 1990
Section F, p. 8
Los Angeles Times
25 Feb 1990
Calendar, p. 37
New York Times
10 Feb 1990
p. 17
Orange County Register
1 May 1989
Show, p. 4
Variety
14 Feb 1990
pp. 35-36
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Warner Bros. Presents
A Lee Rich Production
In Association with Adelson/Todman/Simon Productions
A Film by Bruce Malmuth
Distributed by Warner Bros., A Warner Communications Company
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Co-prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Key grip
Dolly grip
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Cost supv
Costumer
Costumer
Steven Seagal and Kelly LeBrock ward by
MUSIC
Mus score mixing
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Supv ADR ed
ADR ed
Asst ADR ed
Prod mixer
Boom op
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles & opticals
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Scr supv
Prod secy
Asst prod secy
Prod accountant
Asst to Mr. Malmuth
Asst to Mr. Malmuth
Asst to Mr. Rachmil
Asst to Mr. Todman
Asst to Mr. Seagal
Casting asst
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Craft service
Martial arts choreog
Unit pub
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
"Feels So Good," written by Chuck Mangione, performed by Chuck Mangione, courtesy of A & M Records.
PERFORMER
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Seven Year Storm
Release Date:
9 February 1990
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 9 February 1990
Production Date:
3 April--5 July 1989
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers, Inc.
Copyright Date:
7 May 1990
Copyright Number:
PA465877
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo®
Color
Duration(in mins):
97
Length(in feet):
8,595
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30089
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1983, Los Angeles, California, police detective Mason Storm secretly videotapes a late-night meeting between Mafia figure Calabrese and an unidentified man who wants a “hit” on Senator Caldwell. Calabrese will be well compensated, the man adds, “and you can take that to the bank.” Suddenly, a Calabrese thug becomes aware of the detective’s presence, and Mason is forced to escape in his car. Mason telephones fellow officer Carl “Carlito” Becker to tell him about the videotape, but corrupt detectives Max Quentero, Jack Axel, Sergeant Goodhart, and Captain Dan Hulland overhear the call. On his way home, Mason stops at a convenience store for a bottle of champagne. When four Latino toughs enter with a shotgun and kill the proprietor, Mason, an expert in the martial art of aikido, cripples them. Driving home, he listens to the audiotape of the meeting and vaguely recognizes the stranger’s voice. Arriving home, Mason hides his camera in a secret wall compartment. He and his wife, Felicia, celebrate with champagne, and awaken their son, Sonny. Later, as Mason and Felicia make love, Jack Axel and several other assassins enter the house. Mason kills two intruders, but Axel fatally shoots his wife and critically injures Mason. Sonny awakens and leaps from a window as gunmen fire at him. The assassins place bags of cocaine around the bedroom. Elsewhere, other corrupt cops murder Detective Becker. At the hospital, Assemblyman Vernon Trent mourns the loss of Mason Storm to reporters, remembering having worked with the detective while in the district attorney’s office. Internal Affairs detective Kevin O’Malley arrives with a letter from the Commissioner, placing him in charge of the case. O’Malley defends Mason against Capt. ... +


In 1983, Los Angeles, California, police detective Mason Storm secretly videotapes a late-night meeting between Mafia figure Calabrese and an unidentified man who wants a “hit” on Senator Caldwell. Calabrese will be well compensated, the man adds, “and you can take that to the bank.” Suddenly, a Calabrese thug becomes aware of the detective’s presence, and Mason is forced to escape in his car. Mason telephones fellow officer Carl “Carlito” Becker to tell him about the videotape, but corrupt detectives Max Quentero, Jack Axel, Sergeant Goodhart, and Captain Dan Hulland overhear the call. On his way home, Mason stops at a convenience store for a bottle of champagne. When four Latino toughs enter with a shotgun and kill the proprietor, Mason, an expert in the martial art of aikido, cripples them. Driving home, he listens to the audiotape of the meeting and vaguely recognizes the stranger’s voice. Arriving home, Mason hides his camera in a secret wall compartment. He and his wife, Felicia, celebrate with champagne, and awaken their son, Sonny. Later, as Mason and Felicia make love, Jack Axel and several other assassins enter the house. Mason kills two intruders, but Axel fatally shoots his wife and critically injures Mason. Sonny awakens and leaps from a window as gunmen fire at him. The assassins place bags of cocaine around the bedroom. Elsewhere, other corrupt cops murder Detective Becker. At the hospital, Assemblyman Vernon Trent mourns the loss of Mason Storm to reporters, remembering having worked with the detective while in the district attorney’s office. Internal Affairs detective Kevin O’Malley arrives with a letter from the Commissioner, placing him in charge of the case. O’Malley defends Mason against Capt. Hulland’s accusations of corruption. When a doctor announces that both Mason and his wife are dead, O’Malley sends the detectives home. However, another doctor alerts O’Malley that Mason is still breathing, but in a coma. O’Malley swears the hospital staff to secrecy and takes control of the situation. Later, a newspaper reports an airplane crash killed Senator Caldwell, and Assemblyman Trent has been appointed to his seat. A later newspaper headline reads: “Trent Wins Second Term.” In 1990, at the Los Angeles Coma Center, Mason, identified as “John Doe,” wakes up with the painful memory of the deaths of his wife and son. In accordance with special instructions, Mason’s nurse, Andrea “Andy” Stewart, telephones Capt. O’Malley at Internal Affairs to tell him that John Doe has come out of his coma, but Sgt. Goodhart takes the call. He tells her O’Malley is no longer there, but asks her to keep him informed. Hanging up, Goodhart orders Max to get hold of Captain Hulland. When Andy tells Mason he has been in a coma for seven years and that the police department has been alerted, he orders her to get him out of the hospital in fifteen minutes, or else they will be murdered by the same people who killed his wife and son. Andy does not believe him. A physical therapist, Danny, wheels Mason down the hall to a therapy ward and likewise dismisses Mason’s warning. Jack Axel arrives dressed as a doctor and asks a nurse for a list of coma patients, but a security guard named Russ becomes suspicious. Axel finds John Doe’s bed empty, and when Russ approaches, Axel kills him. He also shoots Danny. Lying on a gurney, Mason pushes himself into an elevator and punches the top floor button. Axel takes another elevator up, but Mason eludes him by riding down to the ground floor. Andy finds both Russ and Danny dead and the telephone line cut. Realizing Mason was telling the truth, Andy finds him on the ground floor and wheels him to her car. She drives Mason to Ojai, California, explaining that she has been house-sitting for a doctor who is out of the country. Senator Trent meets with the corrupt detectives and orders them to stop Mason Storm as quickly as possible. In Ojai, Mason and Andy watch television coverage that portrays Mason as a crooked cop being sought by police. Andy telephones her coma ward co-worker, Martha Coe, but does not say where she is and admits she cannot go home. Mason cuts Andy’s call short, telephones prominent television newsman Jerry Dunphy, and promises an exclusive story to counter the lies being broadcast about him. On television, Dunphy announces that Mason Storm called to say he is innocent and has proof of it. Vernon Trent tells the dirty detectives he wants Dunphy and coma ward nurses watched twenty-four hours a day. Mason writes down a list of herbs, acupuncture needles, and other items in Chinese script and sends Andy to Chinatown. He explains that he was raised in China as the son of missionaries and learned the ways of the Orient. To get back into shape after seven years of inactivity, Mason works out with weights, practices aikido, and strategically places needles in his body to improve his energy. Andy visits a woman in a retirement home whom she suspects is O’Malley’s mother, despite the woman’s denial, and leaves her Ojai telephone number on a pad. Mason continues training, and he and Andy run through nearby hills together. One day they make love, but Mason feels guilty afterward as he envisions his wife and child, and commandeers the absent doctor’s Jeep to drive to their graves. Andy, unable to get hold of Martha, drives to Los Angeles, and a neighbor reveals that Martha was found strangled to death. Corrupt detectives, waiting nearby, contact others as they follow Andy home. Meanwhile, in Ojai, as Mason returns from the cemetery, he is greeted by Kevin O’Malley, who explains that he is the one who kept Mason’s survival secret, created the John Doe identity, and staged the funerals. Furthermore, on the night of the fatal attack, Mason’s son, Sonny, escaped and ran to O’Malley’s house, and has been living under another identity and attending an out-of-the way private school. O’Malley gives Mason a gun for protection, but claims he cannot otherwise protect him because he left the police force after he and his mother received death threats. However, O’Malley still has the Calabrese audiotape that was in Mason’s vest pocket on the night he was shot. Mason insists they need to get both the audiotape and videotape to Jerry Dunphy. They set up a rendezvous outside the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. After Kevin O’Malley leaves, Mason rummages through his memories, and recalls seeing Senator Vernon Trent on television just a few days earlier, giving his standard line, “You can take that to the bank.” In a flash, Mason realizes Trent was the mystery man that night. When Andy arrives home and tearfully tells Mason that Martha has been murdered, he guesses she has been followed from Los Angeles and tells her to pack her things. A dozen men with guns break into the house, but Mason kills several and escapes with Andy in the Jeep. Back in Los Angeles, he trades the new Jeep to several young Chicanos for their beat up old car. He and Andy drive to his former house, which is being remodeled. While Andy distracts the owner, Mason retrieves the video camera from its hiding place. Arriving at the Bonaventure, Mason telephones O’Malley’s mother that he is not there as planned, but if Kevin contacts her, he must telephone the Bonaventure and leave a message for “Andrea Smith.” Two detectives listening near Mrs. O’Malley’s home overhear the telephone call and pass the news to Capt. Hulland. Meanwhile, Kevin O’Malley picks up Sonny at his school and drives him to meet his father at the hotel, but decides to change the rendezvous spot to the busier Union Station. Andy gets O’Malley’s message from the Bonaventure desk clerk, but Mason spots the dirty detectives. He and Andy jump into a car and hurry to the train station, followed by regular uniformed police. At Union Station, O’Malley sees the detectives, gives Sonny the audiotape, and tells him to run and give it to his father. During an exchange of gunfire in front of the station, O’Malley is killed, and as Mason arrives, he sees Max Quintero chasing Sonny and pursues on foot. Sonny runs to nearby Chinatown, and as Quintero catches him, Mason tackles the dirty cop and breaks his neck. As regular uniformed police arrive, Mason turns Sonny over to Andy and drives to Trent’s mansion. Several detectives, including Axel and Capt. Hulland, are there, but he kills them. Finding Trent hiding upstairs, Mason beats him until several SWAT members arrive, then holds Trent hostage to protect himself. A police captain enters the mansion, announcing he just saw a videotape in Jerry Dunphy’s newsroom, and Trent is under arrest for the murder of Senator Caldwell and other crimes. Andy, Sonny, and Mason embrace. On a television screen, a videotape clearly shows Trent ordering Caldwell’s hit. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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