In legal terms the person to whom you are most closely related who should be contacted in the event of your death or serious injury or whenever you are unable to act for yourself. Usually a spouse, parent, sibling or child but if you have none of these, or for any other reason, you can nominate any person as your next of kin.

This is also the name of a very funny science fiction novel written by Eric Frank Russell (also known in the US as "The Space Willies").

A space scout, during an interstellar war, is stranded on an enemy planet far from the front and captured. How can he win the war with just a piece of copper wire and a block of wood? You'll just have to read the book to find out (if you can find a copy).

It is expanded from an original novellete "Plus X" published in Astounding Science Fiction in 1956.

You ain't seen bad yet. But it's comin'.

You know, if I were part of a Kentucky hills family with one brother who left to be a ponytailed, Camaro-driving, big-city cop and another who left for the same city in his hardworn pickup truck to avenge the death of yet another brother, I'd want them to be just like the guys in Next of Kin.

In your heart, you ain't family no more. You're just a cop who came from the hills.

Liam Neeson inexplicably but effectively co-stars as Briar Gates, a wily vigilante hillbilly obsessed with avenging his kin (brother), who died in some mobster's truck in Chicago. His brother Truman (Patrick Swayze) is intent on legitimately taking down the mobsters. He even arrests Briar in a bar for having a concealed weapon (Um, bullshit. This would be as likely to actually happen between two brothers from Kentucky as one going to the other's ballet recital).

Briar is not concerned with such legal niceties. In the process of avenging, he jumps around on trains, looks like he hasn't showered or eaten in several days, goes through some ammo, and drinks whiskey shots - that is, until he gets shot in a set-up. Swayze is displeased by this, and turns in his badge, meaning he's lost enough kin! No more! These suits have used Bryl Creem for the last damn time! But there are only ten minutes left in the movie at that point, and after a cemetery scene, Truman tells his wife that he and the baby are his family now. Personally, I would be wary of this.

If I don't come back, call my kin.

Next of Kin was directed by John Irvin (Hamburger Hill) and written by Michael Jenning, who hasn't written anything other than Kin and some maudlin Disney TV show about a dog. Odd. It also features Helen Hunt as Truman's wife, and Del Close, as Truman's other wife.

It may be worth watching this just to laugh at what Ben Stiller is wearing.

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