54 user 49 critic

The Killer Elite (1975)

Mike Locke, who works for a private security firm affiliated with the C.I.A., is betrayed by his partner and left apparently crippled for life.


Sam Peckinpah


Marc Norman (screenplay), Stirling Silliphant (screenplay) | 1 more credit »


Learn more

More Like This 

Action | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

During the Cold War, a controversial television journalist is asked by the C.I.A. to persuade certain acquaintances, who are Soviet Agents of the Omega network, to defect.

Director: Sam Peckinpah
Stars: Rutger Hauer, John Hurt, Craig T. Nelson
Cross of Iron (1977)
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

German commander Captain Hauptmann Stransky (Maximilian Schell) places a squad in extreme danger after Sergeant Rolf Steiner (James Coburn) refuses to lie for him.

Director: Sam Peckinpah
Stars: James Coburn, Maximilian Schell, James Mason
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

An American bar room pianist and his prostitute girlfriend go on a trip through the Mexican underworld to collect a bounty on the head of a dead gigolo.

Director: Sam Peckinpah
Stars: Warren Oates, Isela Vega, Robert Webber
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A hobo accidentally stumbles onto a water spring, and creates a profitable way station in the middle of the desert.

Director: Sam Peckinpah
Stars: Jason Robards, Stella Stevens, David Warner
The Getaway (1972)
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A recently released ex-con and his loyal wife go on the run after a heist goes awry.

Director: Sam Peckinpah
Stars: Steve McQueen, Ali MacGraw, Ben Johnson
Junior Bonner (1972)
Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Ace Bonner returns to Arizona several years after he abandoned his family, Junior Bonner is a wild young man. Against the typical rodeo championship, family drama erupts.

Director: Sam Peckinpah
Stars: Steve McQueen, Robert Preston, Ida Lupino
Biography | Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Pat Garrett is hired as a lawman on behalf of a group of wealthy New Mexico cattle barons to bring down his old friend Billy the Kid.

Director: Sam Peckinpah
Stars: James Coburn, Kris Kristofferson, Richard Jaeckel
Convoy (1978)
Action | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Truckers form a mile long "convoy" in support of a trucker's vendetta with an abusive sheriff...Based on the country song of same title by C.W. McCall.

Director: Sam Peckinpah
Stars: Kris Kristofferson, Ali MacGraw, Ernest Borgnine
Adventure | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

An ex-army officer accidentally kills a woman's son and tries to make up for it by escorting the funeral procession through dangerous Indian territory.

Director: Sam Peckinpah
Stars: Maureen O'Hara, Brian Keith, Steve Cochran
Major Dundee (1965)
Adventure | War | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

In 1864, due to frequent Apache raids from Mexico into the U.S., a Union officer decides to illegally cross the border and destroy the Apache, using a mixed army of Union troops, Confederate POWs, civilian mercenaries, and scouts.

Director: Sam Peckinpah
Stars: Charlton Heston, Richard Harris, Jim Hutton
Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

An ex-union soldier is hired to transport gold from a mining community through dangerous territory. But what he doesn't realize is that his partner and old friend is plotting to double-cross him.

Director: Sam Peckinpah
Stars: Joel McCrea, Randolph Scott, Mariette Hartley
Straw Dogs (1971)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A young American and his English wife come to rural England and face increasingly vicious local harassment.

Director: Sam Peckinpah
Stars: Dustin Hoffman, Susan George, Peter Vaughan


Cast overview, first billed only:
James Caan ... Mike Locken
Robert Duvall ... George Hansen
Arthur Hill ... Cap Collis
Bo Hopkins ... Jerome Miller
Mako ... Yuen Chung
Burt Young ... Mac
Gig Young ... Lawrence Weyburn
Tom Clancy Tom Clancy ... O'Leary
Tiana Alexandra ... Tommie (as Tiana)
Walter Kelley Walter Kelley ... Walter
Kate Heflin Kate Heflin ... Amy
Sondra Blake ... Josephine
Carole Mallory ... Rita
James Wing Woo James Wing Woo ... Tao Yi
George Cheung ... Bruce (as George Kee Cheung)


Mike Locken is one of the principal members of a group of freelance spies. A significant portion of their work is for the C.I.A. and while on a case for them, one of his friends turns on him and shoots him in the elbow and knee. His assignment, to protect someone, goes down in flames. He is nearly crippled, but with braces is able to again become mobile. For revenge as much as anything else, Mike goes after his ex-friend. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Pain is Only a Side Effect, Death is the Cure See more »


Action | Crime | Thriller


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »





English | Mandarin

Release Date:

19 December 1975 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Killer Elite See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (DeLuxe)| Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The film cast includes two Oscar winners: Robert Duvall and Gig Young; and three Oscar nominees: James Caan, Mako and Burt Young. See more »


Jerome, a weapons expert and salesman, is shown incorrectly inserting a magazine into an Uzi sub machinegun when the group is sailing into Suisun Bay to hide out. Worse, prior to trying to insert, he looks at the magazine, then tries to insert having to spin it around twice before he can do so. See more »


Mac: Damn it, Mike! You're so busy doing their dirty work, you can't tell who the bad guys are!
Mike Locken: Don't worry! I know who the bad guys are: anybody who tries to hurt me!
Mac: They're all tryin' to hurt you Mike! All the goddam power systems! All the wheelers and dealers at the top with their gin and fizzes! They need guys like you to do their bloodletting, while they're busy making speeches about freedom and progress! They're all full of bullshit! There's not one power system that really cares about its ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

This film is a work of fiction. There is no company called Communications Integrity NOR ComTeg and the thought the C.I.A. might employ such an organization for any purpose is, of course, preposterous. See more »

Alternate Versions

Swedish cinema version was pre-cut from 3365 m to 3110 m by the distributor (however no violent scenes was omitted). Then the Swedish censors cut the movie from 3110 m (114 min) to 3040m (111min). Some shootings and a karate fight were cut. See more »


Featured in The Slanted Screen (2006) See more »


(1928) (uncredited)
Lyrics by L. Wolfe Gilbert
Music by Mabel Wayne
Sung by James Caan and Robert Duvall
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Peckinpah On The CIA And Foreign Intrigue
11 May 2012 | by virek213See all my reviews

By the mid-1970s, the career of director Sam Peckinpah had basically hit the skids. He had seen one more film of his (PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID) butchered by a studio (MGM) in 1973; then, in 1974, his most overtly personal film, the admittedly ghoulish-sounding BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA, was roundly trashed by audiences and critics alike. And on top of that, the excesses that had been plaguing him on and off for years were starting to dominate his life. Yet through all of this, he somehow managed to pull off the good when he was sober. A case in point was the action thriller THE KILLER ELITE, released near the end of 1975.

In this film, James Caan portrays an employee for a CIA-sponsored offshoot group called ComTeg (Communications Integrity) who, in protecting a German political figure (Helmut Dantine), is maliciously wounded by his partner (Robert Duvall) in the leg and arm. Though his superiors in ComTeg (Arthur Hill; Gig Young) tell him that those injuries are so severe that he may never be able to walk fully again, Caan vows to get back into the game, exposing himself to strenuous rehabilitation and martial arts exercises. When Hill gives him the chance, via protecting a Japanese politician (Mako) until he can be gotten out of the country, Caan immediately grabs onto it, especially with the fringe benefit of knowing Duvall has resurfaced and is gunning for Mako on his own. The whole operation turns out to be part of an internecine battle of wills inside ComTeg between their two superiors, first resulting in a fatal confrontation at the Bethlehem Steel shipyard, and then a high-energy showdown aboard a mothballed World War II vessel in Suisun Bay involving Japanese kung-fu masters.

It is easy to simply dismiss THE KILLER ELITE (which, however, shouldn't be confused with the similarly-titled, but unrelated and much more violent, 2011 film of the same name) as lesser Peckinpah, but he should still be given credit for having taken a strictly commercial property (much like his big 1972 hit THE GETAWAY), and turning it into a solid action film with some bursts of sardonic humor, plus points being made about the dirty business of the CIA at a time when the agency was being battered in the press for its foreign shenanigans and domestic spying, plus its role in covering up Watergate. He would return to this theme in his last film, 1983's THE OSTERMAN WEEKEND.

Under Peckinpah's direction, both Caan and Duvall, who had appeared together before in THE GODFATHER, do solid work as the two friends set up against one another; and Hill and Gig Young (the latter of whom made for a dispassionate killer in ALFREDO GARCIA) are equally good in their bureaucratic roles. Burt Young and Bo Hopkins do good solid turns as Caan's two partners in the protection of Mako's ambitious Oriental political figure. As is typical with Peckinpah, the action scenes are shot and edited in that characteristic Peckinpah style; and the on-location cinematography by Philip Lathrop, whose credits include 1965's THE CINCINNATI KID (from which Peckinpah was unceremoniously fired), is also superb. And finally, Jerry Fielding, working with Peckinpah one final time, comes up with another iconoclastic music score that combines jazz, dissonance, and Far Eastern music elements.

The end result may not have been "classic Peckinpah" (it is certainly less bloody than THE WILD BUNCH, STRAW DOGS, or ALFREDO GARCIA), but THE KILLER ELITE is still far superior to most of the ultra-violent action flicks that would follow in Peckinpah's wake.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 54 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed