Movie of the Week: The Killer (1989)

John Woo directs Chow Yun Fat, Danny Lee and Sally Yeh in this Hong Kong Gun-Fu action classic where a classy hitman falls for a singer he accidentally blinds in a hit and catches the attentions of a philosophical cop.

Possibly the first foreign language film I fell in love with as I became a movie fanatic. Relentless balletic shootouts, stylised editing, wonderful sentimentality. YES, PLEASE! A lot of Woo’s trademark flourishes now seem like camp cliches. But here they have a true poetry among the brutality. Is it unintentionally homoerotic? Yes… very much so… but Chow Yun-Fat is a mystifyingly attractive movie star – gorgeous, suave, a little clownish. This is his signature turn. No wonder everyone in the film wants him – gender and sexuality be damned. But it is the action that has aged the best. Woo is an artist with chaotic squibs, a master with hectic speed. I was a little disappointed the subtitle translation for this DVD had been sanitised / made authentic. I grew up with far dafter names attributed to the leads on the Tartan VHS I cherished. I mean… Who the fuck is “Ah Jong”? I want Jeff. Jeff the badass with a sniper rifle and a fake moustache. Jeff was the absolute boy.


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