OTF Knives in the Movies
Early 20th century Hollywood screenwriter and director D. W. Griffith was a pioneer
in the field of movies, but he had a rather pessimistic view of the medium’s
potential, saying, “I foresee no possibility of venturing into themes showing a closer
view of reality for a long time to come. The public itself will not have it. What it
wants is a gun and a girl.” He was wrong, of course. Films such as The General
(1926), City Lights (1928), Citizen Kane (1941), and Casablanca (1942) made a
major impression. However, Griffith did have a point: Pretty faces and frantic action
do fill seats.
It isn’t that movies and television make such things look amazing (although theycan). Rather, it’s that cinematic sorts naturally select the most engaging stuff toshow on the screen — and when it comes to weapons, OTF knives are among thecoolest. In this article, we’ll detail some notable appearances of OTF blades in movies.
Eye of the Needle (1981)
One of our most interesting cinematic OTFs comes from an obscure source. In 1981,
director Richard Marquand created Eye of the Needle and placed the legendary
Donald Sutherland in the role of Henry Faber, a ruthless German spy trying to
escape the United Kingdom during World War 2 with classified intelligence about
the Invasion of Normandy. As he tries to flee, Faber becomes embroiled in a torrid
affair with the wife of a crippled lighthouse keeper. Will she be able to flee the man
known as The Needle, an assassin preferring to get up close and personal with a
weapon that combines the finer points (pun intended) of an icepick and automatic
While Wikipedia calls Faber’s preferred weapon a stiletto, it’s actually a highly
unique, single-action OTF. The film is available for free on Tubi, and at around the
17-minute mark, you can watch the agent deploy the straight out from the handle.
It fascinated OTF aficionados enough for The Automatic Knife Resource Guide and
Newsletter (Vol. 3, No. 1) to publish a piece on it and offer custom design
John Wick (2014)
2077, Keanu Reeves has reinvented himself — and film genres — numerous times
down the years. His most noteworthy role in recent years was as the titular hero of
John Wick, an assassin turned family man turned assassin once again after the loss
of his beloved wife. Oh, and the puppy she gave him. If Keanu has taught us
anything, it’s to not mess with a man’s pooch.
Another lesson from the films is that Wick can take lives with any sort of implement,
everything from submachine guns to an ordinary no. 2 pencil. At approximately the
44-minute point of the first film, viewers can watch Wick don body armor, holster pistols, and secret an OTF knife into an ankle holster next to his immaculately
polished dress shoes.
You can watch John Wick for free on The Roku Channel
The Dark Knight (2008)
British director Christopher Nolan has a penchant for exploring heady themes
through pop-culture subject matter. He employed detective drama to skewer ethical
pragmatism (Insomnia), pondered love and loss using trippy dream logic
(Inception), and dismantled the revenge trope used so often in neo-noir films
(Memento). In The Dark Knight, Nolan turned to DC Comics’ most famous billionaire
vigilante to mull over the possibility of hope in the face of chaos.At least that’s what the film is ostensibly supposed to be about. In truth, costar
Heath Ledger turned in such a bang-up performance as The Joker that his on-screen
persona eclipsed just about everything else. Burning a giant pile of money. Posing
as a nurse while propagating nihilist philosophy. And upending a swank cocktail
party while munching on hors d’oeuvres and threatening attendees. Scenes of the
villain menacing love interest Rachel Dawes made their way onto promotional stills,
and the implement he used? An OTF knife.
While The Dark Knight isn’t available to watch for free, you can view the above
scene on YouTube.
It: Chapter One (2017) and It: Chapter Two (2019)
Clowns used to be considered carefree characters, objects of mirth and laughter.
But that was before horror scribes like Stephen King got their hands on them. If you
grew up in the 1980s or later, painted bozos likely strike as much unease into your heart as happiness, and much of that may owe to titles such as It. One of King’s
more disturbing works, It traces a series of friends from early childhood through
adulthood as they face a terrifying clown-like creature known as Pennywise.
However, the evil being immortalized in film by Tim Curry and Bill Skarsgård isn’t
the only horror these must deal with. Bullies (a favorite bogeyman in King’s works) also make an appearance. One of them is the horrifyingly unhinged Henry Bowers, who has a taste for torment and a wicked OTF knife. Online pundits debate whether or not its presence is anachronistic, but either way, it’s effectively terrifying.
You can watch scenes from the first movie and the second movie on YouTube. Be
forewarned, though: They contain profanity, violence, torture, and one very ripe corpse. Viewer discretion most definitely advised
Even big-name, award-winning actors and actresses like to have a little fun, and on paper, Ava looks poised for prime time. This Netflix-produced film features the talents of Jessica Chastain, John Malkovich, Common, Gina Davis, and Colin Farrell, all of whom were either Academy Award winners or nominees. But Ava isn’t a high-brow production keenly focused on the depths of the human condition.
It’s a light potboiler that retells a story genre fans have heard plenty of times before: An assassin runs afoul of her handlers and has to fight back as the hunter becomes the prey.
At about 39 minutes into the film, the titular protagonist goes for a jog in the park at night (never advisable if you happen to be a hired killer!). A suspicious man begins to follow her, only to produce an OTF knife. Naturally, Ava ably protects herself.
You can watch Ava on Netflix.
Have these cinematic portrayals inspired you? Peruse our selection of OTF knives
Karambit Grips and OTF Designs
the karambit has mainly been a fixed-blade implement. One of the advantages of
an OTF karambit is that it’s incredibly easy to conceal and quickly deploy when
the need arises. Still, OTFs introduces a complication: the switch.
either positioned at the front where the blade deploys or at the rear near the safety
ring. Naturally, this somewhat limits the grip options, the former working best with
forward grips and that latter with reverse grips. While practitioners can shift their
karambits during use, they’ll need to return them to the deployment position in
order to retract them.
TacKnives offers a large variety of OTF karambits. See our selection here