Die Xue Shuang Xiong (The Killer) (1989)

This film will blow you away.

Original Title : Die xue shuang xiong
Director : John Woo
Writer : John Woo
Genre : Action
Country : Hong Kong
Language : Cantonese
Producer : Hark Tsui
Music : Lowell Lo
Photography : Peter Pau
Wing-Hung Wong
Distributor : Betta Entertainment [br]
MPAA Rating : Rated R for pervasive strong violence and some language.
IMDB ID : 0097202
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poster for "Die Xue Shuang Xiong (The Killer)" by John Woo (1989)
Die Xue Shuang Xiong (The Killer) (1989) - John Woo


Yun-Fat Chow Joe -- Original version
Danny Lee Inspector Li
Danny Lee Inspector Li


In this bloody tale of loyalty and friendship, Chow Yun-Fat is Jeffrey, an assassin who wishes to leave the business so he can take care of Jennie, the beautiful lounge singer who he inadvertently blinded during a previous assignment. Danny Lee is the determined cop who will stop at nothing to bring him in, only he realizes that Jeffrey is no ordinary assassin, and wishes to help him in his quest. Only problem is that Jeffrey's employers refuse to pay him for his last job, money which is needed to restore Jennie's eyesight.


The Quintessential Action Film John Woo holds the distinction, not only of being the top director of actions films, probably in the history of the cinema, but of having made the quintessential movie of the genre.`The Killer,' made in 1989, is quite simply, the perfect action film.Featuring an outstanding performance by star Yun-fat Chow, as Jeff, the killer of the title, it is a showcase of the specific action sequences by which the standard for the entire industry has since been formulated.But what makes it truly remarkable, is that the story lives up to the action, as well.Chow is a professional killer who accidentally blinds a young singer, named Jennie (Sally Yeh), during the fulfillment of a contract.Filled with remorse over the incident, he befriends her, and ultimately begins to care deeply for her.Up to this point in his life, he has killed people he believed deserving of their fate, but now he's changed, he's beginning to comprehend the sanctity of life.There is one more contract he must fulfill, however, for which he is to be paid one-and-a-half million dollars, after which he will retire from the life and see to it that Jennie gets the cornea transplant that will restore her vision.Further conflict arises, though, when the man who hired Jeff decides to have him killed as well, thereby saving him some money, and tying up what he considers to be some loose ends in the bargain. Never before, or since, has such extreme violence been so well integrated into the story, in any film, and Woo's sense of measure is impeccable.The violence is only as graphic as necessary, in order to be effective in any given scene, and the gunfights are choreographed with such precision and timing that it's like a kind of visual poetry.Woo, in fact, has given a lyrical, almost wistful feel, overall, to the film, which accentuates the contrast between the romance and the violence even more.His deft use of slow motion in the action sequences, and imagery (especially in the scenes which take place in a church), are further examples of the artistry and detail that make this such a great movie.The care taken with the story itself is a rare thing for a film of this genre, not to say that action films, in general, are typically wanting in plot or characterization, but in most cases, more often than not the story does defer to the action.But not in this one.Jeff's epiphany, for instance, and his feelings for Jennie, are played without the least bit of misplaced sentiment or pretentiousness, for which credit must be given to Woo and his stars, in the hands of lesser talent, it could all have easily played out as maudlin and sappy, and been used as nothing more than a framework upon which to build the action. The supporting cast includes Kenneth Tsang, Chu Kong, and Danny Lee, who gives an especially impressive performance as Lieutenant Li.`The Killer,' is simply nothing less than the definitive film of it's genre, the `Citizen Kane,' if you will, of action films.Even given the subjective nature of cinema, this film is so well done, and Woo has obviously made such an impact in his field, that it must be considered as one among the all-time great movies in the history of film.This is a must-have for any serious video collection.
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Die Xue Shuang Xiong (The Killer) (1989) - John Woo
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Die Xue Shuang Xiong (The Killer) (1989) - John Woo
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Die Xue Shuang Xiong (The Killer) (1989) - John Woo