Royal Kill

Royal Kill

Film review by: Witney Seibold




            It’s an odd habit of mine that I sometimes actively seek out a certain kind of bad film. Not a film that is offensive, or merely mediocre, but something that is jaw-droppingly awful. One that is misguided every step of the way. It takes only a mere amount of apathy to make a mediocre film. It takes a high level of ambition to make something that it truly awful. I love deciphering honesty and ambition through the prism of misguided talentlessness and above-the-bar film-biz avarice.


            Hence, my special pilgrimage with a friend (hi, Marc!) to drive about 50 miles, all the way from West L.A. to Covina (the only place nearby that it was playing), to take in a non-marketed piece of obscure zero-budget exploitation trash like “Royal Kill.”

            “Royal Kill” is certainly a HolyFuckingShit kind of movie. Special thanks to CineFile Video ( and the CineFamily at the Silent ( for pointing out that HolyFuckingShit is less an reaction, and more a genre in itself.


            “Royal Kill” starts with a long, dull bit of exposition which is spoken over a still digital painting that looks like something from a D&D knockoff. Evidently, there are two imaginary kingdoms at war somewhere near China. The Evil Side has killed allbut one of the heirs of the Good Side’s king using their wicked/hot assassin chick (professional wrestler Gail Kim). The Good Side enlists the help of Adam Artahvan (Alexander Wraith, yes that’s his real name) to find the last heiress and protect her.


            The last heiress is Jan (Lalaine, the sidekick from “Lizzie McGuire”), being looked after by her American Father, played by Eric Roberts. Every time a character refers to Eric Roberts, he is called “The American Father,” which sounds like the title of a Eugene O’Neill play. Adam tracks her down, but evil assassin chick is always hot on his trail.


            There’s a shootout in a building, a building blows up, and the hot assassin chick, at one point, leaps into the air, grabs a cop with her taut muscular thighs, flips over, and breaks his neck. What a way to go. Eventually, Adam and Assassin Chick have a grand brawl in an abandoned… I think it’s a gym, but it’s hard to tell. There are swords laying around anyway. Pat Morita (who died in 2005) appears to deliver some shadowy cryptic dialogue, and give away the big plot twist.


            Here’s the plot twist, and I’m going to give it away because it’s completely arbitrary, and relies on no sense of dramatic tension: It turns out that Adam and the Hot Assassin Chick are one and the same person. Yeah, just like in “Fight Club.” Yeah, that twist again. Now the protector becomes the assassin, and actually, get this, kills the teenage girl on screen. Either the film had the chutzpah to kill off the cutesy teenage girl, or it just tacked on an unearned tragic ending. You decide.


            The film is not just a boring action story. If it were, I could tell you to stay away, and that would be that. No, there are other qualities that push “Royal Kill” from merely mediocre to fascinatingly awful.


            First, very little of the dialogue seems to have been delivered on camera. All speeches are filmed in reaction shots. It’s disorienting; it makes one feel as if the film is being narrated rather than spoken.


            Second, both Morita and Roberts were clearly only available for a few days’ worth of shooting a piece, so they are rarely seen on camera with other actors, and communicate on telephones or to people standing off-camera. There’s one scene in which Roberts is standing in his backyard, and waves to his off-camera daughter, who then waves back from inside the kitchen. It looks like she’s waving to the fridge.


            Third, some scenes are in other languages, and the characters all freely switch from English to, I think Bengali, to an imaginary language. A lot of Morita’s dialogue is just earlier dialogue lopped backwards, to make it sound like he’s speaking in a weirdo secret assassin dialect. It’s clear, though, that they only had so much footage of Morita, and stretched his screentime out by running his clip over and over again, backwards and forward. These scenes begin to take on a Buñuel-ian experimental quality. It’s delightfully disorienting.


            Fourth, for being an action film, there is an awful lot of time spent explaining the story, and very, very little time given to actual fighting. And, for the all the explanation given, the story is still largely opaque. 


            At least the film managed to keep the hot assassin chick in short leather skirts throughout the film. That woman’s thighs are dangerous.


            The film’s poster shows a hot chick in a short shirt holding a gun and a sword, and in the background, a building is blowing up. Irony aside, that is the perfect action movie poster: two weapons, hot lady, explosion. In. Out. Done. Good on you, Babar Ahmed. You made the perfect poster to your weird-ass movie.


Blood, thighs, flames, sword, gun. You need more?

Blood, thighs, flames, sword, gun. You need more?

Published in: on May 1, 2009 at 11:19 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. lmao

  2. Help! I did NOT get the ending at all!!! Did the assassin (whoever it was) kill the wrong girl? Was he just dreaming it all? Who was that last girl and “American mom” at the end????

    This was by far, the worst movie I have ever seen. Sad for Pat to go out on this note.

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