Review: ‘King of Killers,’ starring Alain Moussi, Marie Avgeropoulos, Georges St-Pierre, Stephen Dorff and Frank Grillo

October 15, 2023

by Carla Hay

Shannon Kook, Gianni Capaldi, Kevin Grevioux, Ryan Tarran, Marie Avgeropoulos and Alain Moussi in “King of Killers” (Photo courtesy of Lionsgate)

“King of Killers”

Directed by Kevin Grevioux

Some language in French with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place primarily in Tokyo, the action film “King of Killers” has a predominantly white cast of characters (with a few Americans and Asians) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: A master assassin assembles other assassins in a competition to try to kill him to prove their worth.

Culture Audience: “King of Killers” will appeal primarily to people who are just want to see a movie with mindless violence and don’t care if the movie’s story is awful and filled with plot holes.

Frank Grillo in “King of Killers” (Photo courtesy of Lionsgate)

“King of Killers” is a terribly conceived mess with bad acting and a nonsensical plot about an assassin overlord pitting other assassins against each other. For an action movie, there are too many scenes of people having boring and witless conversations. Avoid this tone-def and idiotic flop.

Written and directed by Kevin Grevioux, “King of Killers” starts off by showing protagonist Marcus Garan (played by Alain Moussi) being attacked in a warehouse. Marcus is a “wet man” for the U.S. intelligence community, with options to be hired by non-U.S. entities. Will he survive this attack? The movie makes people wait a long time to find out the answer, because it then switches to a flashback that took place one year before.

In this flashback, Marcus is shown to be a loving husband and father. His wife is named Karla Graran (played by Amy Groening), and his daughter is Kimberly Garan (played by Zoe Worn), who’s about 8 or 9 years old. Marcus speaks to Kimberly in French.

Stephen Dorff shares top billing for “King of Killers,” but his role is a useless cameo. He plays a character named Robert Xane, who asks Marcus to do a job for the next day. However, Marcus declines the offer because the next day is the wedding anniversary of Marcus and Karla.

One evening, Marcus is at a bar called Coal Train, where he has certain people under surveillance. In a back room of the bar, there are three men at table. One of them holds what’s called a cyrstal matrix unit that can replace hard drives of any kind. It can contain information for over a million supercomputers.

Marcus barges in on this meeting and gets into a shootout with about five men. He survives, but unbeknownst to Marcus, his wife Karla had followed him to the bar. She was standing outside the room where the shootout took place. And to Marcus’ shock, he sees that Karla has been killed.

The movie then fast forwards to on year later. Marcus is raising Kimberly with the help of Karla’s mother. He’s still working as a secretive operative. Marcus gets a mysterious phone call from a Scottish man named Roman Korza (played by Gianni Capaldi), who tells Marcus about a job offer that will pay $10 million and requires a trip to Tokyo.

Roman is vague about the details of the job, such as who’s doing the hiring and what the job entails. Roman says that Marcus will get the details after Marcus meets with Roman in Tokyo. Marcus thinks he doesn’t have enough information, so he turns down the offer.

But then, Kimberly ends up in hospital because she has an enlarged heart. The medical diagnosis is that her heart is deteriorating and will lead to heart failure, unless she can get a heart transplant, which is a high-priced medical procedure. Marcus suddenly sees how $10 million can come in handy, so he takes the job in Tokyo. (“King of Killers” was actually filmed in Winnipeg, Canada.)

When Marcus arrives in Tokyo, Roman takes him to a remote mansion, where Marcus finds out what the “job assignment” is really a twisted game set up by a self-described master assassin named Jorg Drakos (played by Frank Grillo), who has assembled other top asassins from around the world. Jorg announces to the people in this assembled group that their task is to see which one of them can kill him first. Whoever “wins” by killing Jorg first will get the $10 million. Anyone who doesn’t want to participate will be killed by Jorg. In other words, it’s not a fair fight.

Besides Roman, the other people in this group are:

  • Scott Angus, a deposed J2 member, who set off a war between terrorist factions.
  • Asha Khanna (played by Marie Avgeropoulos), an ex-MI6 operative, who left MI6 after 16 years because she got tired of the “rat race.” Marcus already knows Asha as an assassin rival.
  • Dyson Chord (played by “King of Killers” writer/director Grevioux), a former U.S. Marine Force re-con commander for Dark Forces and a former National Security Agency sweeper.
  • Rick Nigel (played by Ryan Tarran), a former ASIS International security employee, who plays many sides and almost “put a hit on himself.”
  • Ren Hiro (played by Shannon Kook), a Japanese-trained protector whose services go to the highest bidder.
  • Zach Hebron (played by Dennis Lafond), a freelance sniper for military companies.

One of the people in the group doesn’t go far in the game, because this person refuses to participate and gets shot to death by Jorg. The rest of “King of Killer” is a vapid and turgid series of scenes where some of the assassins decide it’s better to eliminate each other first, and the last person standing will be the one to take on Jorg. It’s as stupid as it sounds. Needless to say, Jorg wants to kill them too. Jorg wears a ridiculous-looking green goblin mask as part of his rampage.

Even worse, there are scenes where Jorg could easily be killed by any of the other assassins in the room, but that doesn’t happen, because these dimwits think it’s better to stand around and talk. That’s essentially what clogs up much of the screen time in “King of Killers,” which is truly bottom-of-the-barrel garbage filmmaking. Not even a “plot twist” at the end can redeem this awful movie, which hints at a sequel that will most likely never happen.

Lionsgate released “King of Killers” in select U.S. cinemas, digital and VOD on September 1, 2023.

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