IMDb wrote: Die xue shuang xiong (1989)
Director: John Woo
Genre: Action / Crime / Drama / Thriller
TagLine: This film will blow you away.
Runtime: 111 min / Australia:96 min / Taiwan:141 min / USA:104 min (R-rated version)
Country: Hong Kong
Language: Cantonese / Japanese
Certification: Germany:18 (uncut) / Argentina:16 / Australia:R / Canada:13+ (Quebec) / Canada:R (Ontario) / Chile:18 / France:-16 / Hong Kong:IIB / Ireland:18 / Japan:R-15 / Netherlands:16 / New Zealand:R16 / Norway:18 (video premiere) / Singapore:NC-16 / South Korea:18 / Spain:18 / Sweden:(Banned) / UK:18 / USA:R (edited version) / USA:Unrated
- Yun-Fat Chow ....... Ah Jong (as Chow Yun Fat)
- Danny Lee ....... Insp Li Ying/Little Eagle
- Sally Yeh ....... Jennie
- Kong Chu ....... Fung Sei (as Chu Kong)
- Kenneth Tsang ....... Sgt Tsang Yeh (as Tsang Kong)
- Fui-On Shing ....... Wong Hoi (as Shing Fui On)
- Wing-Cho Yip ....... Wong Dung-Yu
- Fan Wei Yee ....... Frank
- Barry Wong ....... Chief Insp Dou/Tu
- Parkman Wong ....... Insp Chan Bok
- Siu-Hung Ng ....... A killer
- Sing Yeung ....... Bodyguard A
- Siu Hung Ngan ....... Bodyguard B
- Kwong Leung Wong ....... Wong Tong
As its international title underlines it, The Killer's story, freely inspired from multiple sources including Jean-Pierre Melville's The Godson, is about a killer, a professionnal one, methodist and heavy skilled for this unusual job.
This killer, Ah Jong (or "Jeffrey" in the dubbed version), is played by Chow Yun-Fat who was a HK superstar at that time with a very impressive career containing already an amazing number of movies with several international successes like John Woo's two episodes of A Better Tomorrow.
As all John Woo's "good" characters, this killer is driven by a very strict strict and strong moral code of his own, a code close to the chivalry one where the frienship and the innocents' protection are very strong values.
That is this code which makes him risk his life protecting the singer of a bar where he has started a gunfight after having eliminated the target of his contract.
That is this code which makes him look after that singer, Jennie, after she has been blinded because of one of his gunshots. While his bosses would certainly prefer him to let no witnesses, this strange killer, takes one last contract in order to pay Jennie the surgical treatment she needs in emergency to recover sight.
Problem is that the code which drives our killer seems no longer enforceable when arrives a ruthless boss at the head of the mob: Wong Hoi/Johnny Weng (Fui-On Shing) who has formely engaged Ah Jong to kill his own uncle and take the head of the mob. Now he sees in him the only weak link which could endangered him.
On the other hand, inspector Li Ying ("Lee" in the dubbed version, played by Danny Lee), a very efficient cop who is not afraid of action, is on Ah Jong's traces.
Driven himself by a strong moral code, Li gets to understand the motivations of this unusual killer which firstly drives him to Jennie's flat where he is soon able to face his target in a very "Woo-ian" crossed guns scene, without being able to arrest him.
Understanding what is going on Li sees too in Ah Jong the link he needs to reach this very violent boss while his superiors tells him to find himself another case to work on...
Both after Wong Hoi, the killer and the cop slowely learn to trust each-other and work together to get rid of the honnorless boss while this one puts more and more pressure on the mob to see Ah Jong's eliminated.
The pressure is growing higher and higher till the explosion of the final confrontation where Ah Jong and Li face all their common enemies in a real powder and blood bath.
The Killer is indeed a very violent movie but it is a pure HK's violence with its own action rules : except when it serves the scenario, guns are never out of bullets, good guys very rarely miss their shots while the baddies seem to enjoy shooting all round their targets without never touching them or harming them to seriously, the gunfights are real dances with amazing choregraphies and a maximum use of environment to create original moves underlined by acceleration or deceleration of the cut, ...
John Woo was clearly a master of these HK movies of the 80~90's golden age, adding himself so many novelties in the genre which will be found in countless movies like the "back jump shooting with two guns" or, of course, the face to face with crossed guns, all these "figures" becoming imposed ones in the following actionners till today while the best HK directors have been called to Hollywood with their crew, ..., with more or less results, especially for John Woo who really seemed to have forgotten something of his HK talent arriving in Hollywood, or Chow Yun-Fat who has been so under-employed in cheap B movies...
Of course, The Killer has lost quite a bit in about 20 years. It and other HK movies of that Golden Age have been now so copied that they have undoubtely lost of their wonder and are not anymore the spank they had been when they were first released.
Nevertheless, The Killer is still today a damn efficient movie which I can't mark lower than 5/6.
Even if it's not my favourite one from John Woo (I might do a topic about thatone too later ), I have discovered John Woo with The Killer which has opened for me the amazing world of asian cinema and I am very very gratefull for this as a much more vaster world was awaiting me
The Killer is a very good synthesis of all the best elements HK gunfight actionners offered in the late 80's~young 90's and then should not be missed.
I hope that with his remake of The Red Circle, Mr Woo intend to get back to its roots. I really need to forget Paycheck for good...