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Archive - 9th Five Flavours Film Festival

The Killer

Dip huet seung hung
Hong Kong 1989, 111’
subtitles: Polish and English
director: John Woo
screenplay: John Woo
cinematography: Peter Pau, Wong Wing-hang
editing: Fan Kung-wing
music: Lowell Lo
cast: Chow Yun-fat, Dany Lee, Sally Yeh, Kong Chu
producer: Tsui Hark
production: Film Workshop, Golden Princess Film Production Limited, Media Asia Group
language: Cantonese, Mandarin, English
colouration: colour

Awards and festivals

Hong Kong Film Award 1990 - najlepsza reżyseria, najlepszy montaż / Best Director, Best Editing

Film description

A masterpiece of both gangster film and melodrama, the most internationally acknowledged of John Woo's Hong Kong works. It has all the things Woo's fame relies on – tragic heroes, stylish, emotional action scenes, and white pigeons among swarms of bullets. Together, they form a complete whole which put Hong Kong on the cinematic map of genre cinema.

"Killer" is a story of loyalty and betrayal, guilt and redemption. Ah Jong is an assassin with an honor code, he eliminates only criminals. During his last mission, he accidentally causes Jennie, a night-club singer, to lose sight. The killer, haunted by his guilty conscience, decides to look after the girl and collect money for a procedure which would bring back her sight. The situation becomes more complicated when it turns out his services are no longer needed, and a death sentence hoovers about him. An uncompromising policeman, Li Ying, is also following Ah Jong's steps. Their paths will cross, and even though they stand on the opposite sides of the law, they will understand that they have a lot in common.

Like all John Woo's films from the era, "Killer" is deeply immersed in cinematic reality, woven from references to director's favorite films. The picture, dedicated to Martin Scorsese, is an homage to Melville's "Samurai"  they share the same protagonist, an assassin hunting his victims in a city jungle, betrayed by his employer. It also has strong ties to "Magnificent Obsession," a somehow obscure melodrama by Douglas Sirk.

It was a perfect role for Chow Yun-fat – it is here that the character Woo always aspired to is best epitomized. Tall, elegant, with a white scarf around his neck, the actor proudly continues the tradition of the hero previously portrayed by Alain Delon or Seve McQueen.

"Killer" is the last film John Woo and Tsui Hark made together. In a long run, those two strong personalities were unable to work side by side.

Marcin Krasnowolski

John Woo

Born in 1946 in southern China, raised in Hongkong. Started his career as an assistant of the director in the legendary Shaw Brothers Studio (he worked with Chang Cheh, the legend of wuxia cinema). He debuted in 1973, but the breakthrough came only in 1986, with "A Better Tomorrow," made with Tsui Hark. Woo's subsequent Hongkong films confirmed his reputation of the master of action sequences. After 1992, he moved to Hollywood and gained acclaim for "Face/Off" and "Mission: Impossible II." He returned to China to direct his newest, two-part production, "The Crossing."

Selected filmography:

1986 Lepsze jutro / Better Tomorrow
1987 Lepsze jutro 2 / Better Tomorrow II
1989 Killer
1990 Kula w łeb / Bullet in the Head
1991 Był sobie złodziej / Once a Thief
1992 Hard Boiled. Dzieci Triady / Hard Boiled
1997 Bez twarzy / Face/Off
2000 Mission: Impossible 2 / Mission: Impossible II
2015 The Crossing

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