Licensed to Kill (1998) - Rotten Tomatoes

Licensed to Kill (1998)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

In 1977, documentary filmmaker Arthur Dong was attacked by four youths who shouted anti-gay epithets at him as they beat him severely. This incident led Dong to a long personal investigation of the reasoning and motivations behind gay bashing; this film was the culmination of Dong's study of homophobic violence, in which he interviews seven men convicted of murder in hate crimes against homosexuals as they try to explain why and how they did what they did. The stories range from men who believed that gays were wealthy and weak, and therefore easy targets for robbery and murder, to others who are convinced that God has condemned homosexuals and that they were somehow doing "the Lord's work." Several other men said that their murders of gay men stemmed from shame and confusion over their own latent or active homosexual desires, and one man simply and chillingly states, "I don't have any opinion whatsoever for homosexuals, except they oughta all be taken care of." Licensed to Kill was voted Best Documentary at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival and was shown on PBS as part of their showcase for non-fiction films -- P.O.V.


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Critic Reviews for Licensed to Kill

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (4)

Disturbing, unflinching and brilliant.

June 9, 2020 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Offering a harrowing and disturbing look at homophobia and anti-gay violence, Dong's courageous docu, winner of 2 major awards at the 1997 Sundance Fest, is an intelligent exploration of sexual prejudice and hatred in contemporay American society.

February 14, 2007 | Rating: B+
Top Critic

A tough and thought-provoking.

May 20, 2003 | Full Review…

Nothing you've heard about the plague of violence against gay men will lessen the shock value of this chilling look at the real face of evil.

November 13, 2001 | Full Review…

The almost clinical restraint of Dong's Sundance and Berlin Film Festival award-winner only enhances its staggering emotional impact.

June 8, 2020 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…

The chill and fear it generates are more genuine than the 1989 James Bond film its name evokes.

June 8, 2020 | Full Review…

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