Death Machines (1976) Review

As it turns out, this driver, whose name is Mike, is quite concerned about his boss’s wellbeing when he asks if he should go inside with him. Gioretti tells him to go eat at a place called Tony’s and meet him there after the meeting.

“But you shouldn’t go in there without protection,” Mike warns.

Seriously, who the hell is this man?

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Gioretti assures Mike he only hired him because of his father, and to only follow his orders, not question things.

“And you better be there when I call,” Gioretti warns, “and not out screwing around like you were last time, you hear?” Oooh, sounds like Mike likes the chicks, or whatever “screwing around” entails in this case.

After Mike drives away, Gioretti meets Madame Lee by the staircase inside, where some wonky synth plays as she smirks and slurs, “Welcome, Mr. Gee-oh-lah-jee.” She walks down slowly, smiling mischievously while struggling to talk more.

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Gioretti acts civil, asking if he can see if her men are capable of handling his jobs. She agrees to give a “day-mong-stray-shone” of her Death Machines’ abilities, but only after they eat dinner.

Elsewhere, Mike sits down at Tony’s.

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As an accordion plays the same few notes over and over in the background, Mike is served his spaghetti by a lovably stereotypical Italian man (Tony), who says he told the cooks to make his meal “extra-ah special” for him, whatever that means. Tony insists his food tastes the best in this unnamed city, which could be just a tiny bit above absolute shit for all I know. Mike seems to like it, though.

He begins to sift through his meal with his fork, until he comes across a big chunk of… something, and seems confused.

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Is it a dead animal? Is it the world’s biggest meatball? Is it a T-bone steak? What the hell is that supposed to be?

Mike calls Tony over and asks, “What is this, a joke?”

“It’s-a no joke-a you find-a in-a spaghetti,” Tony reassures him. He says he’ll fire whoever did it.

Right after Tony leaves the table to be Italian off-screen, three lights appear through the window, which look awfully familiar.

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Seriously, is that Sam Fisher from the Splinter Cell games?

Sam Fisher in Splinter Cell

Well, as it approaches, it turns out to be a truck, and Mike dashes away from it.

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It crashes through the wall of the restaurant, a stunt that probably cost half of the entire film. Mike lives through it, of course, and winds up in the alleyway, shooting at the white Death Machine, who drove the truck and runs away from the scene. He gets away, however, and Mike is left to face the Asian Death Machine, who just swings a sword in circles.

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Mike shoots him in the chest, which seems to stun the guy,

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but he quickly resumes his little intimidating spin.

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He gets shot again,

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but this guy being a “machine” and all keeps him focused on the spin.

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Mike discovers he’s out of bullets, not seeming to find it weird that two straight shots at the guy didn’t even faze him. Instead, he just backs up against the door slowly as the black Death Machine shows up and appears to open a giant literal can of whoop-ass, the contents of which we can’t see.

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What is to happen to dear old Mike? Well, I suppose the film had enough of that nonsense since we cut back to Madame and Gioretti’s little dinner. Gioretti requests from Madame the same two hits he tried to complete previously, only being able to show her the photos of the targets if her butler hands them to her across the table. Are these two too fucking lazy to bend over the table?

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Madame actually recognizes the karate studio owner as a guy using the place as a front for a narcotics business. Nathan Adams, on the other hand, just seems to “keep forgetting” he works for Gioretti. Maybe he has Alzheimer’s, man. Give him a break. The guy’s clearly in his golden years.

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Gioretti then asks about that “demonstration” he was promised, and he gets it in the form of Mike’s head, which the butler hands to him in a basket.

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Instead of reacting fearfully like a normal person, Gioretti decides shooting the butler is a good idea.

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But Madame’s assistant’s got him cornered.

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Instead of being upset like a normal person, Madame is unfazed and calmly asks why mean Mr. “Gee-oh-lah-jee” did that.

“You took my driver, I took your waiter. Just to make things even,” Gioretti explains.

“Of course, Mr. Gee-oh-lah-jee. We must keep things even. Now, shall we do business?”

Sure, based on this evening, so far it seems like this’ll go well without issue.

“Alright,” Gioretti agrees.

Madame’s assistant then dispatches the Death Machines to take care of the karate studio owner, Ho Lung. “Don’t leave any witnesses,” the assistant tells them. At a full karate studio with many trained martial artists? No problem, this should go over quite well.

Next thing we know we’re at the studio, where Ho Lung is teaching a full class.

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Ho Lung brings in the same little orange thing we saw in Mike’s dinner at Tony’s, but it’s more clearly a Buddha this time, especially when Ho Lung holds it up at the front of his class and asks in near-spotless English, “Does this Buddha belongs to anyone?”

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Of course, we know it’s those pesky Death Machines.

“Perhaps I’ll keep it then,” Lung says with modest pride, accepting this gift with honor.

After putting it away, we get to watch a little battle between two of his students, who use bo staffs to playfully spar at white-belt level. It works because I feel like I’m in the middle of an ordinary karate class instead of an exhilarating action film.

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But as they fight, a stingy musical note and a particular student seem to think something fishy’s afoot.

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It’s our Death Machines, and they’ve come to party in the form of mass murder.

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They break in through the glass and literally start randomly killing every person they see.

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A lot of good those lessons did them. A sea of black belts and not one can even manage a punch.

Amid the chaos, the guy who saw them enter and failed to warn anybody gets his right hand cut off by the Asian Death Machine. Karma, if you ask me.

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He gets knocked out instead of killed for some reason, as the massacre continues. Everybody, and I do mean everybody, gets butchered before Ho Lung fights them with a sword, and just winds up dying from a little thing called electricity after accidentally hitting a surge box.


It knocks the power out, and the Death Machines leave calmly as we see the one survivor pretending to be dead.

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7 thoughts on “Death Machines (1976) Review

  1. Thanks for that fun, in depth review and especially for the five out of five stars. We all had fun making that movie and took it very seriously to get the most production value for the money we had. This link will take you to a detailed article that I wrote about directing Death Machines:


    • Thanks for reading! Glad you enjoyed it. And thank you and everyone else involved for giving us this crazy film.

      Fascinating read there as well.


  2. Death Machines was just released in Blu-ray made from ther original wide-screen techniscope negative and looks great. I did the director’s commentary, the asian killer did a video talk, the afro-american killer did a great audio interview, I did a short video intro at a Japanese temple. The print quailty if fantastic. And Capt. Green is less green than before. I just read through your reveiw again and last at least five times. Thanks.


  3. Great film with film dubbed voices in Chinese theatre traditions.
    Great fight choreography by assassins. (This is too easy style.)
    Assassins injected: probably heroin den babies born to fight in death matches, (probably the hold their den mother had on them) is an old Secret of KungFu !!!
    Awesome soundtrack, where is the sequel.


  4. Egad, this flick was a turkey–It’s the last or next to last flick featured in the 12 disk, 50 movie collection, “Sci-Fi Invasion”. Nothing about this film could really be called “good”, but the music is especially bad. The analog synth background music from “Death Machines” is also used as the menu music for each and every disc in the “Sci-Fi Invasion” collection and I have fallen asleep many nights to bad sci fi movies only to wake up at 4am to the creepy, eerie strains of the noodling theme of “Death Machine”. You can’t put a price on that kind of thing. As for the movie–they had enough cash to film it in technicolor, blow up a Cessna, and drive a truck through a perfectly nice Italian restaurant movie set. They made 70,000 grand on this–doubt it covered costs– doesn’t matter, it was well worth whatever they spent on it. I truly appreciate low budget bad movies–but only if the makers sincerely tried to make a good film at the time. “Death Machines” is right up there with the best/worst of ’em!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you, J. Glad you got into the spirit of the movie. After the first edit, Crown International took over and finished the sound effects and bad music. I did not like that music at all. Also, for the karate school raid they did not put body cuts on the sword hits which bugged me. the 70K you speak of was the budget for the entire movie in techniscope and technicolor. It opened in fifty theaters in southern California and was a good grosser for Crown around the world. (For Crown only). My new 2018 movie Forbidden Power got 14 awards so far from film festivals including Best Picture, Sci-fi picture and screenplay. It’s on Amazon Prime.


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