Sep 28, 2010

The Killer

Strolling through the decadent and backwoods gas station rental oeuvre, I'd see selections after selections of films that I'd be able to watch effortlessly, however, only with age. Finding it in myself to pick up Ghoulies Go To College seems like such a far cry from my habitual rental of Tremors or The Kindred. Other than the typical action films, I'd frequent Face/Off and Broken Arrow, respectively, and their Hong Kong predecessors were virtually unknown to me. Had I known this Eastern-Western director created 2 bodies of work that are complete mirror opposites of archetype and rival every action film released in the states (in terms of bullets and psychotic violence), I would have converted to Wooism years ago to save me the embarrassment of my friends goading me for not seeing John Woo's The Killer and only until this year, Hard-Boiled. The tale of an introverted and valiant assassin is something that most every subject has glanced at, their tales sweeping the screen in the lingual form of French, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese. What really spikes The Killer above the enamored expectations alongside Leon: The Professional is the chemistry between Ah-jong and Inspector Ying, while border-lining male romance, the obsessions they carry differ in routes but never-the-less scrawl to many climactic confrontations.

Having watched both The Killer and Hard-Boiled within the span of a sweat-soaked evening, Chow-Yun Fat has fashioned himself to be an indecently versatile actor, harnessing giddy-boy in Hard-Boiled as the "serious-when-he-needs-to-be" Tequila and channeling an intensified yet poetic hitman whose heart is too big for the sordid expectations of him and his weapon. In The Killer, Chow-Yun Fat plays past his genetic baby-face and manages to shed that image upon the opening shootout scene which gives birth to the wonderfully important subplot of a blinded lounge singer named Jennie whom, out of guilt, Ah-jong decides to follow, protect, and love, tenderly, with plans of a final job to afford her cornea transplant surgery. Simple basis enough with a dash of betrayal and healthy amounts of gun play for an excellent HK splurge. Not necessarily the post-meditated state on violence that Hard-Boiled unabashedly hurls you into wondering who is on which side, however. Through all the environmental carnage, it's hard to discern who is shooting and what exactly is getting lit up with slugs. The Killer is much more distinguishable as an action/thriller though not without heavy doses of detective narcissism and a terrible score to topside the action with primordial jazz.

Acting as ringer for the entire project, The Killer only becomes the legend that it is due to the raw, shocking nature of the ending and how utterly hopeless you feel after the credits roll. Brought to a simmer, this tale of brotherly obsession and acceptance of dreary philosophies on the wielder of guns, killers and cops, crawls to a conclusion that will no doubt burrow in your mind as you can't help but feel sick over the fates of all three characters. Thinking I had the course of predictability down to a "T", what a fool I was and left bewildered staring at the screen with a guttural hankering for affection and co-dependency. Ironically enough, The Killer has been hailed as Woo's "magnum opus" but with great evidence to back upon these claims. To think of it, this might even be a near perfect film if the soundtrack was recycled and refined. Sadly so, there is not much to say about this film and the festering hatred that is spawned by the tragic finale. All thoughts and impressions can all be retraced back to the solemn, iconic scene of Ah-jong letting a cigarette slowly burn out; pure visual existentialism. That and the heroic bloodshed nature of idolizing the power of weaponry as phallic extensions of machismo. As I stated, a perfect companion piece to Hard-Boiled for any particularly sleazy night.



Andrew said...

Meh, I'd some hope for this one....
Too bad it's apparently something of a let-down.

Soiled Sinema said...

Oh but on the contrary, if The Killer disappoints on any level, it's solely the soundtrack that distracts. There is much to love about this film - the violence and characters are easily digestible. Plus the ending is entirely ruthless, an Asiatic black hole. It's every bit of a classic as its status defines.


jervaise brooke hamster said...

Its official, i`m in love with Penelope Sudrow, we`re planning a June wedding, and all because of that scene in "Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors" where she becomes Freddys T.V. victim (and because shes got hair like Heather O`Rourke obviously). I was thinking maybe its better to have one perfect "Field Of Dreams" mo-girl-t (as it were) that you are always remembered for rather than a lifetime of mediocrity, for instance Penelope is 44 now and if shes still alive 40 years from now at the age of 84 she might still be remembered for that one perfect legendary horror movie mo-girl-t where-as actresses like Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts will long since be forgotton.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

John Woo's "The Killer", better by itself than everything that the British film industry has ever produced put together over the last 121 years since the invention of the cinematograph circa 1889.