Chow Yun-fat stars as a killer with a conscience in John Woo’s exquisite dissection of morals in a corrupt society. Replete with balletic, slow-motion gun battles on the streets of Hong Kong, The Killer mixes genres from both the East and the West.
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Certainly one of the all time great action films. Woo's unique blend of melodrama and ultra violence reached the boiling point here in its depiction of a growing admiration between a ruthless killer and a dedicated officer. Chow Yun-Fat was the pure embodiment of cool here. All the Woo flourishes that would later become cliched are here in a career defining way. First saw this in a chinatown theatre in '89 .
It's easy to see the cliches here, but that's missing the point--if Woo's tools seem overly familiar, it's only because they made such an impact as to inspire numerous imitators in the years since. it's hard to imagine the 21st century action film without John Woo, in the same way it would be hard to imagine rock without Jimi Hendrix-much like Hendrix's Purple Haze, this is a great showcase for Woo's singular vision.
A super-cool, action packed film pumped full of steroids. Woo's films may come off as a bit too melodramatic for the Western audience, but I feel here he nailed the perfect balance between the amazing action sequences and the more emotional and tender moments of the main characters. I only wish I knew of this film as a teenager, it would have been an eye opener to Hong Kong cinema. Get ready for a bloody show!
Woo's use of the freeze frame here reminds me how among all his techniques, the freeze frame never seemed to catch on with other directors. Too bad, because I love a good freeze frame, especially one with visible film grain. Old school.
Quintessential (and essential) John Woo. This movie has all the hallmarks of a John Woo film: honor, respect, family, responsibility, debt, regret, self-possession and brilliantly staged, elaborate gun battles. Yun-Fat Chow and Danny Lee are perfectly cast as brothers in arms on opposite sides of the law.