Saturday 12 December 2009

Fulltime Killer [2001]

Fulltime Killer is Hong Kong filmmaker Johnnie To’s unabashed expression of his love affair with the action genre. In fact the movie abounds in scenes and sequences that pay homage to a range of thumping contemporary action flicks like Terminator I & II, Heat, Desperado and Assassins, as well as earlier-era masterpieces like Rear Window. Further, it is a decent blend of stylish action sequences and fast-paced editing, and Adrian Lau’s turn as a psychotic killer is really fun to watch. However, despite the plethora of references and the reasonably entertaining watch, the movie certainly falls short of any lasting impact. By trying to aim at too many things, the director has failed to make any of the subplots of this kinetic take of one-upmanship between two assassins (a laconic, unparalleled hitman, and his younger and brasher rival) and their vying for the attention of a shy, beautiful girl, anything more than just about moderate. The movie, quite unfortunately, has followed a downward curve – it starts off really well with the look of an existential and fatalistic tale of contract killers, perhaps something like Le Samourai or A Bittersweet Life, but by the time it ends, it is hardly any better than the over-the-top, farcical climax.

Directors: Johnnie To & Wai Ka-Fai
Genre: Action, Thriller
Language: Mandarin/Japanese
Country: Hong Kong (China)


Omar Ahmed said...

Johnny To is a legend and one of the few Hong Kong film makers left who make existential crime thrillers in the vein of Melville. I think with 'Election', 'Exiled' and 'Mad Detective', his work has eclipsed that of Woo who he is regularly compared with. Yet his body of work is inconsistent - I haven't seen a lot of earlier films though. Looking forward to 'Vengeance' with Halliday.

Shubhajit said...

Well, this happens to be my first tryst with Johny To, and am quite interested in trying out his other movies that you've pointed out despite the not-so-favourable experience that this movie provided.