The Killer (喋血雙雄)

The Killer (喋血雙雄)
Made in: Hong Kong
Language: Cantonese
Director: John Woo
Starring: Chow Yun-Fat, Danny Lee
Year: 1989

While on a hit job at a posh nightclub, unstoppable contract killer Ah-Jong (Chow Yun-Fat) takes down his target...and just about everyone else in the building with a bad tie or haircut. But amidst the mayhem he accidentally blinds an innocent lounge singer named Jennie (Sally Yeh).

His conscience weighing on him, Ah-Jong befriends Jennie and learns she needs a cornea transplant in order to restore her sight.

Longing to give up his dark profession, Ah-Jong accepts one last job in hopes of using the payment on the contract to finance Jennie's operation.

Although Ah-Jong successfully dispatches his final target, a razor sharp police inspector named Li (Danny Lee) discovers him and vows to bring him to justice.

And to make matters more complicated, Ah-Jong gets double-crossed by those who hired him, and now he finds himself being hunted.

As Ah-Jong plots his escape with Jennie, he finds that an unlikely alliance with Li may be his only chance...

The Good: The Killer is visually spectacular as any action film, and easily surpasses many Hollywood pictures of the same genre. Once again, John Woo's outrageous shootouts and stunt sequences rule the day, giving this foreign film a stylized comic-book feel.

Many of the typical John Woo trademarks are present, such as dramatic slow motion, guns with endless bullets, elaborate stunts, and of course, white doves.

Chow Yun-Fat and Danny Lee do a great job portraying veterans of their respective professions. They operate on opposite sides of the law, yet their lives begin mirroring each other.

The supporting cast, most of whom have appeared in previous John Woo bullet-fests, are at ease and fit smoothly into the story.

The Bad: The acting is almost too good for the predictable (and perhaps thin) storyline. You don't have to pay too much attention in order to predict when the next big shootout will take place.

The story seems to be built around the visuals at times, and it seems as though Woo paid more attention to shot composition and editing than actual storytelling. Also, the action gets pretty high on the ridiculous scale, which puts undue strain on our suspension of disbelief.

And finally, I swear there's this one extra who dies in two separate scenes...

Who would like this movie: This one is definitely for action movie buffs, and is a great introduction to John Woo movies if you're unfamiliar with his work. Although it's a huge rush, be warned that The Killer has a darker ending than some of Woo's other notable films.

(3 stars out of 4)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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