Search This Blog

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Killer (John Woo 1989)



Whilst Hard Boiled might rightly be called the pinnacle of John Woo's Hong Kong heroic bloodshed output, The Killer might in fact be his best and purest outing in the genre and the first film that really got him noticed in the West. Starring Woo regular and Hong Kong superstar Chow Yun-Fat as well as Danny Lee, The Killer is an absolute action classic and synonymous with Hong Kong cinema.

Jeff (Chow Yun-Fat) is a lone hitman who accidentally hurts a girl (Sally Yeh) during what is meant to be his last job, causing her to possibly completely lose her eyesight. If she doesn't get expensive surgery, she will be blinded forever so Jeff decides to take on one last job in order to raise the cash for her eye operation. The problem is that Inspector Li Ying (Danny Lee) has been trying to catch him for some time and is hot on his trail. And to make matters worse, Jeff is betrayed by his own Triad boss. When a child gets hurt during a shoot out between Jeff and other Triad members, Inspector Li witnesses how Jeff saves the boy and slowly a bond and mutual respect starts to develop between the two men on opposites side of the law.
The Killer perfected all of John Woo's signature heroic bloodshed stylistic trademarks: extreme use of slow motion, guys flying through the air shooting pistols from both hands, huge body counts, pure bullet ballet in over the top choreographed action sequences and themes of honor and brotherhood. A tribute to some of Woo's favourite Western directors like Jean-Pierre Melville, Martin Scorsese and Sam Peckinpah, The Killer remains a high mark of Hong Kong cinema and a prime example of a type of movie that only could have been made there during that time. The film was nominated for six Hong Kong Film Awards, winning two for Best Director and Editing. An absolute action classic.
PS If you haven't seen this film, don't watch the trailer and just watch the movie. Also, make sure not to watch the English dubbed version but the original Cantonese version instead. Just posted the dubbed trailer because it was the best quality one I could find.