Friday, August 15, 2008

The Killer review

The Killer follows a hit man named Jeff (Chow Yun-Fat) out to pull off his last job for enough money to help a girl he accidentally blinded from a previous hit. Her name is Jennie (Sally Yeh) and he slowly begins to fall in love with her. Double-crossed on the pay off for his last job, he’s forced to face an entire mob of gangsters and a clever inspector hot on his tail.

Leaving behind him a trail of dead bodies, empty clips and his own blood, Chow Yun Fat manages to capture everything likeable about his character while maintaining the firm discipline that comes with his job. Finding no difficulty in showing his heart of gold, Jeff affirms his morals, gains the audience’s sympathy and follows through with a trite plot in trying to leave to business to live a life of peace.

Woo’s dizzying and meaningful gun fights instated The Killer as a staple of the genre. In combining “glamorous” showdowns with meaningful character development and a simple story, Woo is able to tease the audience just enough and finally deliver the goods when it counts. Much of what lies in the excitement of an action movie is the build-up. The Killer helps set up these conflicts, tie together characters and introduce pretty bad-ass scenarios for Jeff to follow through with. With a meaningful (still cliché) story and set-up, the rewarding action scenes are earned and worth the wait. Fights never seem out-of-place and as the tension rises between Jeff and his antagonists, the film explodes into blissful action. Every subtle action matters in the fights. Woo favors the stylish nuances like sliding on a table rather than running past it; and it is in this innovative use of the environment the fights make for some exciting and jaw-dropping sequences.

The other role that stood out was Sally Yeh as Jennie. She puts tons of emotion into this role as a helpless girlfriend, but not the usual type that stays off to the side. She is a key part in even the action and adds depth to her character. Her fear strongly connects with the audience because of her blindness; and because of the dimension she added to her role the audience roots for her well-being along with Jeff’s.

The Killer is a staple of the HK action genre and is the one film to watch to create a Hong Kong film addict. Woo’s landmark film is required Asian cinema viewing for its influence and its lasting appeal on all action since.


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