Under the Radar

Home Video: 'The Assignment'

The Assignment (out now on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD) is not for everyone. Legendary director Walter Hill (The Warriors, 48 Hours) first optioned a screenplay from Denis Hamill in the late '70s and has spent almost forty years trying to get it made. He says he found someone who would let him make it for cheap as long has he had some name actors in the movie.

The final product most definitely has the kind of grimy drive-in movie plot that was common back in the day and almost inconceivable now. Michelle Rodriguez plays Frank Kitchen, a brutal hitman who runs foul of disgraced plastic surgeon Dr. Rachel Jane, who's conducting experiments on homeless people since she lost her medical license. Frank killed Dr. Jane's brother on a job and the doctor gets revenge by performing full gender-reassignment surgery on Frank without his knowledge or permission.

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Frank wakes up as a woman and sets out to get revenge. Here's the challenge: Hill and Rodriguez have taken heat from the transgender community for their insensitive portrayal of a transgender character. Except Frank's not transgender: he's a guy who finds himself living in a woman's body against his will. It's the kind of old-school Times Square plot device that used to pack the low-rent theaters.

Michelle Rodriguez is game for the part and delivers an A+ action performance. It's hard to believe, but this is her first lead role since her 2000 movie debut in Girlfight. She's spent most of the last seventeen years in a nothing part changing around Vin Diesel in the Fast and the Furious films, a role that's beginning to wear on her.

Michelle Rodriguez deserves lead roles in movies and Walter Hill gave her one. She doesn't look great with Frank's mustache (before she gets her gender reassigned) but otherwise she kicks ass all the way through this one. Hill is one of our greatest action directors and he obviously wanted to make this one for a long time. Unfortunately, there's no commentary track included here; it would've been great to hear Rodriguez and Hill tell the story of bringing this project to the screen.

The Assignment, the jaw-dropping audacious revenge thriller from legendary director Walter Hill (The Warriors, 48 Hrs.), starring Michelle Rodriguez and Golden Globe® winner Sigourney Weaver (Best Actress, Motion Picture – Drama, Gorillas in the Mist: The Adventure of Dian Fossey; 1989; Best Supporting Actress, Motion Picture, Working Girl, 1989,) heads home to Blu-ray™ Combo Pack (plus DVD and Digital HD), DVD and Digital HD on June 6 from Lionsgate. The film is available On Demand now. Rodriguez stars as a lowlife killer put through a full male-to-female gender reassignment surgery by a score-settling surgeon played by Weaver. Also starring Emmy® and Golden Globe® winners Tony Shalhoub (Golden Globe®: Best Actor, Television Series – Comedy, “Monk”, 2003) and Anthony LaPaglia (Golden Globe®: Best Actor, Television Series – Drama, “Without a Trace,” 2004), The Assignment Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD will be available for the suggested retail price of $24.99 and $19.98, respectively. Screenplay and story by Walter Hill and Denis Hamill (Turk 182!).

OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS Legendary director Walter Hill gives the revenge film a modern neo-noir twist with this electrifying thriller. Hit man Frank Kitchen (Rodriguez) is given a lethal assignment, but after being double-crossed, he discovers he’s not the man he thought he was — he’s been surgically altered and now has the body of a woman. Seeking vengeance, Frank heads for a showdown with the person who transformed him, Dr. Rachel Kay (Weaver), a brilliant surgeon with a chilling agenda of her own.

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