The Killer (1989) / Action-Drama
aka Dip hyut shueng hung

MPAA Rated: R for strong violence and language            
Running Time: 104 min.

Cast: Chow Yun-Fat, Danny Lee, Sally Yeh, Chu Kong, Kenneth Tsang, Fui-On Shing
Director:  John Woo
Screenplay: John Woo

Review published February 21, 1999

An assassin (Yun-Fat, All About Ah-Long) inadvertently nearly blinds a young lounge singer (Yeh, Peking Opera Blues) during one of his assignments. Overwhelmed by pity, he decides to take care of her and soon they fall in love.  Unfortunately, her eyesight is deteriorating quickly and she needs to have an operation before she loses her eyesight completely. The assassin decides to do one final job to get the money she needs, but after the job is completed, his hires refuse to pay him. Not only this, but they are feeling the heat from a determined police officer (Lee, City on Fire) trying to take them down, and fearing the assassin will rat them out, they decide to kill the killer.

The Killer is a great action picture, one of the best of the 1980s. Stylish to the extreme, with Peckinpah-esque slow motion ballet-like action scenes and some religious undertones make for thought-provokingly effective entertainment. Beautifully shot and skillfully directed by John Woo (A Better Tomorrow, Face/Off), it's probably the best Hong Kong action film I've ever seen, and by far the best film in Woo's interesting career. The entire ensemble is perfectly cast, with Chow Yun-Fat giving a subtle but powerful performance as the assassin. It's funny, audacious, outrageous, and tragic all at the same time. An absolute must-see for Hong Kong film fans and anyone is tired of clichéd Hollywood action thrillers.

 Qwipster's rating:

©1999 Vince Leo