7.9/10
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The Killer (1989)

Dip huet seung hung (original title)
Trailer
1:26 | Trailer

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A disillusioned assassin accepts one last hit in hopes of using his earnings to restore vision to a singer he accidentally blinded, only to be double-crossed by his boss.

Director:

John Woo

Writer:

John Woo
Reviews
2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Yun-Fat Chow ... Ah Jong (as Chow Yun Fat)
Danny Lee ... Insp. Li Ying / Little Eagle
Sally Yeh ... Jennie
Kong Chu ... Fung Sei (as Chu Kong)
Kenneth Tsang ... Sgt. Tsang Yeh (as Tsang Kong)
Fui-On Shing ... Wong Hoi (as Shing Fui On)
Wing-Cho Yip ... Wong Dung-Yu
Fan Wei Yee ... Paul Yau
Barry Wong ... Chief Insp. Dou / Tu
Parkman Wong ... Insp. Chan Bok
Alan Ng Alan Ng ... A Killer (as Siu-Hung Ng)
Yamson Domingo Yamson Domingo ... Bodyguard A
Siu Hung Ngan Siu Hung Ngan ... Bodyguard B
Kwong Leung Wong ... Wong Hung
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Storyline

A violent Hong Kong action film, this is the story of an assassin, Jeffrey Chow (aka Mickey Mouse) who takes one last job so he can retire and care for his girlfriend Jenny. When his employers betray him, he reluctantly joins forces with Inspector Lee (aka Dumbo), the cop who is pursuing him. Together, the new friends face the final confrontation of the gangsters out to kill them. Written by Jeff Hansen <jmh@umich.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

This film will blow you away. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive strong violence and some language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Hong Kong

Language:

Cantonese | Mandarin | Japanese

Release Date:

September 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Killer See more »

Filming Locations:

The Peak, Hong Kong See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (USA) (2002) (R-rated) | (extended)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film did not do well in Hong Kong because audiences didn't like the allusions to the Tienanmen Square massacre. See more »

Goofs

During the dragon boat festival, Jeffrey is wearing sunglasses, but the POV shots when he looks into the scope of his rifle do not take account of this. See more »

Quotes

Lee: [subtitled version] He looks determined... without being ruthless. There's something heroic about him. He doesn't look like a killer. He comes across so calm... acts like he has a dream... eyes full of passion.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The Criterion DVD changes the "nicknames" of Jeffery Chow and Inspector Li from "Mickey Mouse" and "Dumbo" to "Numb-nuts" and "Butt-head" See more »

Connections

Referenced in Il solitario (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Once In A Lifetime
Performed by Sally Yeh
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Woo's Best; An Amalgamation of Drama and Action
20 June 2004 | by RuninriderSee all my reviews

John Woo's "The Killer" shows a master at the height of his powers. Woo, today working in the United States, gained fame in Hong Kong through the two "Better Tomorrow" films. He became popular and used his success to go to greater things. In fact, much of Woo's HK work is similar, including the work he did in the early 90's like "Bullet in the Head" and "Hard Boiled". But "The Killer" shows John Woo as a perfectionist, the top director of action films who can perfectly blend in over-the-top violence with emotional drama.

"The Killer" follows John (Jeff in other versions of the film), who's played to utter perfection by Chow Yun Fat. John is a hit-man planning retirement. On one job, however, he accidentally shoots a singer (Jenny) near her eyes. She survives, but her vision is blurry. John saves her from a gang of rapist thieves, and the two ultimately fall in love with each other, despite Jenny never having seen John's face. On John's case, however, is Inspector Li, hard at work, who is intent on always getting his man. Much of the movie involves John and the results of his final job which ultimately pits him up against the entire mob, who want him dead for overexposing his identity. And the rest of the film follows John catering to Jenny's needs and helping her at every moment, all the while evading Li, who's getting closer and closer to stopping him.

To make the movie the memorable film that it is, Woo perfectly orchestrates some of the best shoot-outs ever seen on film. Much of what Woo did here, he was never able to follow up. "Hard Boiled" was interesting, but its final shoot-out, over 20 minutes in length, just couldn't keep up. It got boring by the end. What Woo does in "The Killer" is give you a sample of his powers and then leave you begging for more. And that what you'll be literally doing: begging for just a glimpse of the next dude victim to Fat's two beautiful handguns.

It's only sad to see that, not so much Woo doesn't do these films anymore, but that Woo rarely does good films now.(Period) He's too busy, working on ego with top stars and killer budgets. His two films that came as far as making an impact with me from his U.S. catalog will probably include "Broken Arrow" and "Face/Off", both primarily due to just how much I like Travolta (though the former was also an early film of mine that I really remember liking, since it was different from all the Disney and kid stuff I was used to). But Woo, intent on fulfilling his dreams of making a musical and captivating audiences with his powerful style, can just show the people a screening of this film. It's quoted as being "Violence as poetry", and that's exactly what it is. With the beautiful music adding feeling and depth to the characters and the great writing and direction, this is easily Woo's tour-de-force.

9.5/10 (****/****)


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