A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Kill 'Em All is a shoot-'em-up / martial arts / international conspiracy thriller with video game-style bloody violence and adult language. Eastern European government corruption of the 1980s, ethnic cleansing, assassinations, and drug dealing make up a plot that takes a backseat to choreographed hand-to-hand fights, shoot-outs, and knifings. Expect to hear "f--k," "s--t," and "bitch." A lap dancer strangles a customer. A woman strangles another woman after a vicious martial arts fight. A man kills several men by kicking and punching and breaking their necks loudly. Men are shot in the head and their blood is seen splashed on a wall. Blood spurts out through bullet holes in slow motion, accompanied by splattery sound effects. A politician is said to have made a fortune dealing arms and drugs.
What's the story?
In KILL 'EM ALL, an FBI investigation pieces together the brutal murder of a former Serbian minister and his entourage of bodyguards at a Los Angeles hospital. Agents Holman (Peter Stormare) and Sanders (Maria Conchita Alonso) are skeptical as they interrogate one of the incident's few survivors, a seemingly innocent nurse named Suzanne (Autumn Reeser). In flashbacks, she describes wounded victims brought in from the hotel where the attack began. Slowly, it's revealed that the minister is a corrupt politician and mobster who has been stalked for 30 years by the son of one of his murder victims. The grown son, Philip (Jean-Claude Van Damme), picks off the minister's bodyguards -- Dusan (Kris Van Damme), Zoran, Radovan, and Ivan -- all trained Serbian assassins. Flashbacks show shootings, executions, and elaborate martial arts fights. Agent Holman seems certain that the nurse who survived the attack at the hospital was part of the assassination team but can't prove it.
Is it any good?
There's no need for teens to watch this awful action movie. It's not easy to take a movie titled Kill 'Em All seriously, especially when it's clear that the plot revolving around ethnic cleansing in the Balkans is a distant second to the more urgent goal of providing a showcase for Van Damme and company's martial arts skills and choreography. The backstory traces a man waiting 30 years to avenge the killing of his political activist father, but in terms of thin character development, the assassin might as well be killing people just because it's Tuesday.
Don't expect snappy dialogue. "Don't you go one day when you don't miss us immensely," says a mother as she sends her son to safety while expecting to die herself. And don't expect things to make much sense. Why is every department of a large hospital closed except for the emergency room? The trained gunmen here seem to carry no ammo, which results in lots of frequent and long hand-to-hand fights. Most fun: Van Damme Senior fights his younger taller son, Kris, to the death. Go Dad.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the motivation for "ethnic cleansing" as practiced in 1980s former Yugoslavia. Why were groups that had lived for decades in relative peace suddenly killing each other? Does Kill 'Em All explain?
The movie talks about "ethnic cleansing" that resulted in 300,000 deaths. Why do you think ethnic groups would go to war with each other?
A murder investigation that takes place in the movie's present day is intercut with scenes from earlier in the day and also with flashbacks to the political roots of the murders in the 1980s. Does the editing clarify who is who and what their motivations are?
- On DVD or streaming: June 6, 2017
- Cast: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Peter Stormare, Autumn Reeser, Maria Conchita Alonso, Kris Van Damme
- Director: Peter Malota
- Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: for violence and language
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
Our editors recommend
For kids who love action
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
Streaming options powered by JustWatch