The Killer — John Woo's 1989 Hong Kong action classic, a stylish, bullet-riddled elegy to friendship under fire, firmly established him as the maestro of mayhem. Superstar Chow Yun-fat, Asia's king of cool, plays the most... more » charming hit man ever (and yes, he only takes contracts on those who deserve it), but when one of his killings leaves an innocent nightclub singer (Sally Yeh) blinded, he dedicates his life to giving her back her sight. Danny Lee is the cop on his tail, but the two adversaries become unlikely comrades when the mob decides to cancel its debt to Chow by taking him out, leading to a beautifully filmed and incredibly violent confrontation. Woo places the showdown in a church and punctuates the acrobatic gunfight with images of religious icons, flying doves, and burning candles. An ode to Jean-Pierre Melville's existential gangster classic Le Samourai, Woo's delirious mix of melodrama and stylized action recalls the balletic bloodletting of Sam Peckinpah, the elegant camerawork of Martin Scorsese, and the operatic, larger-than-life grandeur of Sergio Leone. Woo's love of American musicals (and his own background as a dance instructor) adds a touch of grace to the fluid choreography of the action scenes. In terms of sheer action, Woo topped himself a few years later with Hard-Boiled, his Hong Kong swan song, but most critics still rate The Killer as his masterpiece. --Sean Axmaker Hard-Boiled
Masterful Hong Kong action director John Woo (The Killer, Face/Off) turns in this exciting and pyrotechnic tale of warring gangsters and shifting loyalties. Chow Yun-fat (The Replacement Killers) plays a take-no-prisoners cop on the trail of the triad, the Hong Kong Mafia, when his partner is killed during a gun battle. His guilt propels him into an all-out war against the gang, including an up-and-coming soldier in the mob (Tony Leung) who turns out to be an undercover cop. The two men must come to terms with their allegiance to the force and their loyalty to each other as they try to take down the gangsters. A stunning feast of hyperbolic action sequences (including a climactic sequence in an entire hospital taken hostage), Hard-Boiled is a rare treat for fans of the action genre, with sequences as thrilling and intense as any ever committed to film. --Robert Lane« less
Hassan Howard | Brooklyn, New York United States | 10/17/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't understand this at all. While I know that these are the greatest action movies made so far on film, the sound transfer is mono. It won't deter the action, or your appreciation of John Woo's genius. But if you do want the DVD Dolby 5.1, surround sound versions, you need to find the MEI AH Laser Company copies of these films. There is no commentary, just the film itself. But the video transfer has the same firstname.lastname@example.org"
Good films; bad package.
Danny | South Philly | 02/23/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"If you want to read about the content of these films, there are plenty of other reviews on this site to help you out. I'm reviewing the sound quality. MONO?! Two DVD films in mono?? I'm sorry, but the sound quality on these discs are really terrible, especially the English dubbed version. Also, although it's not the manufacturer's fault, the English dubbing over both discs are atrocious. "JEFFREY! JEFFREY! WHERE ARE YOU, JEFFREY?!"That's basically all I have to say on the content of these discs. I suppose I'm happy with them, but what choice do I have? The criterion editions are out of print in case you folks who are looking for them didn't know."
The Real Deal
Zack Davisson | 03/21/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After seeing both of these films on video, I wished with all my heart I'd seen them on the big screen. Despite John Woo's success with "Face/Off," after seeing "Hard Boiled," I realized just how much the American movie system dumbed down his work. "The Killer" is a nifty little thriller more about friendship, loyalty, and redemption than about filling flying bodies with lead in slow motion. While some of its scenes are a bit trite, the overall message is sincere, heartfelt, and punctuated with an almost Shakespearean tragic ending. (4 of 5 stars) "Hard Boiled," though, is the perfect action movie. No car chases or aerial stunts are to be found here, but I assure you that it goes through MANY shell casings with extreme grace and style before its operatic denoument. Chow Yun Fat gives a more wrenching performance in "The Killer," but here he exudes his famous charisma like a fire hydrant in summer. "Hard Boiled" is every action fan's dream come true. (5 of 5 stars) Overall: 4 1/2 stars for the two films together."
Zack Davisson | Seattle, WA, USA | 02/19/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is an excellent, affordable deuce of John Woo classics. They are an interesting pair, showing different facets of John Woo's directorial style. While primarily known for his action, I find John Woo more compelling for his ability to weave a good story and compelling characters into action scenes. This is what separates his movies from the American equivalent."The Killer" is a story driven, personal, Shakespearian epic of honor and loyalty. Chow Yun Fat and Danny Lee are flip sides of a coin, one a cop, the other a paid killer, who find themselves drawn into an unavoidable admiration for each other. The violence in this film is poetic rather than gratuitous. The ending is personal and the deaths are meaningful. I find this to be the superior film."Hard Boiled" is the counterbalance to "The Killer." It is sheer, over the top violence. Shotguns fire the famous "John Woo Bullets" that explode upon impact. Sub machine guns never run out of ammo. In this film, Chow Yun Fat is the hard boiled policeman and Tony Leung Chiu Wai is an undercover agent that may have gone too far. Like "The Killer," these two dangerous characters gain a grudging respect for each other. Unlike the "The Killer," "Hard Boiled" finds it's big finish in a Hollywood style extravaganza of blood and bullets on a major scale.Again, this is a really great package with interesting commentary and a few features. Who knew that John Woo's films are influenced by the American musical? I recommend "A Better Tomorrow" to follow up this great set."
Two influential action classics
jackspritzer | Montreal | 10/31/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I don't understand the other reviewer. The Killer is, with Die Hard, the best and most influential action movie of the 1980s, period. Sure, the budget is visibly tighter, but there's more energy and drama in here than just about any action flick ever made!Hard-Boiled was made later and is essentially just a setup for a one-hour-long shootout -- which is great! It has some of the best-designed (and bloodiest) action scenes ever made, but it's not perfect.
Note: I have the Video versions, not the DVD."