Zodiac Killers (1991) / Action-Drama
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but would be R for violence, nudity and sexual situations Running Time: 93 min.
Cast: Andy Lau, Cherie Chung, Junichi Ishida, Yasuaki Kurata, Kyoko Kishida
Director: Ann Hui
Screenplay: Raymond To, Ng Lim Jan
Probably a disappointment even for fans of director Ann Hui, who are probably used to her more stylish and artistic approach to moviemaking. Zodiac Killers is not only off the mark from a creative standpoint, but even if it weren't, there would be no getting around the fact that it's just bad storytelling. It does have an offbeat feel to it, similar to the new wave Chinese films, while touches of hard-boiled action creep in from time to time, leading to a blend that just doesn't taste good when mixed together in such a haphazard fashion.
Andy Lau stars as Ben, student in Japan by day, mouthy tough guy by night. One night he meets and falls for a bar girl from China named Tieh-Lan, but she has already given her heart to a local former criminal on the lam. He has the goods on the man that he is running from, and soon she runs to Ben for help in staying alive so that she can get the tape into the right hands.
Zodiac Killers is ambitious enough to hold your interest on occasion, but never for very long. It's an uneven film from the start, with lots of nonlinear plotting, giving the impression that the script was being written as they had begun shooting. Even the name of the film makes no sense (at least to me), and one can only conclude the entire production must have been slapped together in haste, with little forethought during conception, and abandonment after it wrapped.
It isn't without merit, but it is without meaning. Zodiac Killers is a lifeless and depressing action drama that will leave almost no one, not even the staunchest fans of the director or stars, satisfied. This one's for completists only.
© 2003 Vince Leo