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Blu Ray, DVD, Movie Review, Public Domain

Public Domain Gems: Trained To Kill U.S.A [1973]

Trained To Kill USA is a pretty decent little movie, a one for fans of films which feature scarred and unstable Vietnam veterans.

The film pits a group of travelling carny folks against Ollie Hand (Steve Sandor), a man fresh out of Vietnam, a man haunted by his actions and a man who looks a hell of a lot like Elvis. Ollie however prefers to stay out of trouble, keeping his nose clean, even when his family’s safety is at stake…but of course, in true – “i’m a hard bastard but i’m not going to fight, no siree” – style, eventually he gets pushed too far and snaps.

Originally released in 1973 under the (quite brilliant) title of ‘The No Mercy Man’, it eventually reappeared a few years later under the Trained To Kill title, and then on video with “USA” tagged onto the end of it. It’s notable for a few reasons; firstly it was the first film that the legendary Dean Cundey worked on as cinematographer, Rockne Tarkington who plays the lead villain of the piece was apparently on a short list of actors in consideration for the role of the cooler than cool Williams in Enter The Dragon, and lastly towards the end of the movie, the always brilliant Sid Haig pops up as a pal of the carny gang.

It’s a shame the movie is languishing in the public domain, because all we’re stuck with is a rather cramped looking full frame version and with films that were shot in 2:35.1 like this one, a full frame panned and scanned version is a pain in the arse. Plus some scenes look like they’ve suffered at the hands of the censors to me, especially during the climax. If anyone knows of an uncut widescreen version that’s available, let me know.

But anyway, as I said, it’s a fun flick with much to reccomend it; the final showdown basically turns the small town into a war zone, rocket launchers and explosions ahoy. And take note of Ollie’s karate noises and growling, as unnerving as it is bizarre.




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