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The Killer (1989)

Dip huet seung hung (original title)
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.


John Woo


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



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The first chapter of a two-part story centered on a battle fought in China's Three Kingdoms period (220-280 A.D.).

Director: John Woo
Stars: Tony Chiu-Wai Leung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Fengyi Zhang


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


Jeffrey is 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. Li Ying 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. Written by Vince at unigx.ubc.ca

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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 »



Hong Kong


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


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

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The first half of this movie pays homage to Melville's "Le Samouraï": the entire premise of a hit-man falling in love with a singer to a point of risking his life due to his identity exposure, his employers double-crossing him, his relentless pursuit to get his money regardless of any escape options, and the police detectives getting close with the woman the hit-man admires because they know she'll lead him to them. Practically the entire story of "Le Samouraï" John Woo pays tribute to in this film. See more »


The cars (especially the damage marks) change during the chase. See more »


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 141-minute Taiwanese version differs mainly in that it has scenes (some of which have been reprised in the Criterion and Hong Kong Legends DVDs) that were dropped by John Woo for the sake of pacing. See more »


References Narazumono (1964) See more »


Title Song
Music by Lowell Lo
Lyrics by James Wong
Sung by Sally Yeh
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Amazingly fantastic action movie filled with substance.
16 January 2008 | by Boba_Fett1138See all my reviews

I wish more action movies would be like this! I didn't expect to love this movie as much as I did. The more the movie progressed, the simply better it got.

The movie was made before John Woo's coming to Hollywood but this movie already gained him some cult status in the States. It's a typical Woo movie, which shows once more that he is a real master in making action movies. His action directing in this movie is really flawless.

The movie is basically non-stop action, with a lot of gun fights, explosion and fights. But it's not just a mindless action-flick, it also pays lots of attention to its story and development and interesting character building. The emotions within this movie are also really truly powerful, especially toward the ending.

The characters are really strong within this movie. Yun-Fat Chow plays a great and intriguing 'good' hit-man, who is being chased by cop Danny Lee. The whole game and chase and the eventual teaming up between those two is done great. They are like each other and also fall for the same woman (at least that was the original concept) but are on the different side of the law. They have a certain respect for each other, which makes it all the more meaningful and interesting to follow. You also really start to care about those characters. The movie is also filled with plenty of other interesting and backstabbing characters, cops, gangsters and fellow hit-men. It's not hard to see why John Woo in his early days was often called the Asian Martin Scorsese.

But it's of course mostly the action that makes this movie such an amazing one to watch. There is plenty of Woo-ism present, so expect lots of slow-motion and stylish action, including Mexican stand-offs, running, car chases, boat chases, flying doves. Yes, this movie has got it truly all. There are a couple of sequences toward the end that really stand out and are among the best the genre has to offer. Yeah, it's a real testosterone driven guy flick, with also typical important guy themes such as loyalty, bravery and friendship in it, with added to that a whole load of bullets and killings. The body count of this movie is 120, all being committed by about 3 guys, that should really say something about this movie.

It's a movie with a great style. The movie is Asian, so the editing and such might seem off to you if you're not accustomed to it but it's all part of the Asian film-making style.

The violence and graphic is quite explicit. Definitely different from his Hollywood movies, where he obviously has to hold back with the blood. The blood is literally flying around in this movie and people get shot through the head at close range. Even small children can't escape the violence.

Truly an incredible movie within its genre!



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