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DVD Review: The Assassin Next Door

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Sometimes, you get a frail elderly person who wants you to have some tea with them while they show you photo albums of people you will never know. Once in a while, you get a big weird creep who has probably installed webcams in your vents in order to watch you parade about the house naked. And, other times, you wind up with an inherently nerdy guy that wants to talk to you about the latest Stargate series. And then, there’s that rare breed of neighbor: those who kill for a living and yet, are not enlisted in the armed services. You know, The Assassin Next Door.

Originally known as Kirot, The Assassin Next Door brings us the tale of Galia (Quantum Of Solace’s Olga Kurylenko), a Ukrainian prostitute in Israel whose attempts at leaving her life of pimpin’ behind have proven unsuccessful. One day, her malicious employers (members of the underground crime scene, of course) give her an opportunity to make some serious money and retrieve her passport. In exchange, she must assassinate a few of the underworld’s enemies.

While it isn’t every woman’s dream job (but then, neither is forced prostitution), Galia eventually consents to pull off the hit. As it turns out, though, she has a bit of a knack for it (much like Anne Parillaud in Luc Besson’s La Femme Nikita, a film that The Assassin Next Door ultimately owes more than a bit of its motivation to), and quickly becomes one of the organization’s favored weapons. When she’s not on assignment, Galia is pretty much a shut-in in her run-down apartment complex. There, she befriends and bonds with her next door neighbor, a young woman named Eleanor (Ninette Tayeb), who is frequently abused by her husband.

Naturally, things go from bad to worse for the hooker-turned-hitman. A job gone wrong brings with it the expected number of thugs hot on her trail. Will Galia make it out alive? Will Eleanor build up the strength to ensure that her hubby takes a tumble down the stairs for a change? More importantly, does newbie writer/director Danny Lerner have what it takes to make a low-budget action/drama that won’t have you reaching for the Eject button?

Well, any spoilers aside, the answer to that last question is a stern “Yes.” Lerner has managed to sculpt a rather nifty and appealing indie film with very little money or experience. The Assassin Next Door isn’t award-winning material by any means (portions of it could have done with a little more polishing), but it’s definitely better than many of the several dozen other hitman dramas that seem to hit video store shelves on a monthly basis. And, for anyone that’s been hoping to see more of actress Olga Kurylenko in action (let’s face it: Quantum Of Solace was more than a bit disappointing, even if she did get to kick a little ass in the film), your ship has come in.

Nearly a year after the film’s completion, The Assassin Next Door makes its way to DVD courtesy First Look Studios in a pleasing 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. The video aspect of this DVD release isn’t what you’d call “perfect” — in fact, it’s a bit muddy in some spots — but then, this is a low-budget flick. The multi-language Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (dialogue within the film is spoken in Russian, Hebrew, and English) fares a bit better, and manages to emerge rather well. The only extras included here are trailers: one for the feature film itself, with several more for other First Look releases.

As I said, The Assassin Next Door isn’t award-winning stuff. It isn’t something you’ll want to write home about, or go bragging to your coworkers about the next day. On the flip side of the coin, it isn’t a terrible movie, either. Predictable? Sure. Original? Not really, no. But, in the end, I found it was a decent way to spend the better part of two hours.

About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.