The Killer was a 1989 Chinese action movie about a Triad assassin that has a change of heart after accidently blinding a local night club singer when committing his latest assassination. It starred Chow Yun Fat as the guilt-ridden assassin and Danny Lee as the police inspector who is trying to arrest Fat’s character. In addition, it stars Sally Yeh as the nightclub singer that got blinded. Also, Chu Kong plays the assassin’s oldest friend and a Triad elder. This movie belongs to the action subgenre of “Heroic Bloodshed” which combines the action, crime, and thriller genres together as well as being about brotherhood and honor.
The movie begins when Brother Sei (Kong) hires Ah Jong (Fat) to assassinate some local members of the triad which are no longer needed. Needless to say, he does achieve said goal but at a price; a local nightclub singer named Jenny (Yeh) walks in on the assassination and gets blinded by Jong’s bullet as he shoots someone trying to protect her. This, of course attracts the attention of the police led by Inspector Lee (Lee). Later on, Jong befriends Jenny in an attempt to make up for his past misdeed. As a result, he accepts one last job in an attempt to raise the money so she can get a cornea transplant. This time, he kills a Triad elder but attracts the attention of the police. Also, he gets betrayed at the end when a Triad leader has decided that his identity has been compromised and he needs to be eliminated. In the end, Inspector Lee (after getting removed from the case) finds out where Ah Jong and Jenny are staying and sneaks into the house (owned by Sei)—but he is followed by a group of professionals who were hired to eliminate Jong. This leads to a pair of shoot outs (one in the house and the other in a church) as well as Jong and Lee becoming friends.
All in all this movie was fantastically directed, especially when it comes to their use of music. The music wasn’t just beautiful, but it also seemed to highlight to the loneliness and loss that each of the main characters were feeling. Also, the acting was very good (in most cases). Sally Yeh pretty much overacted when her character was first blinded. But other than that, I had no problem with any of the performances (even hers). It especially highlighted the emotional range of Chow Yun Fat. But there’s one other thing that is worth noting; the gun fights were fantastic. They were highly stylized, yet extremely violent and brutal. Also, they highlighted the honor and heroism of the heroes and the cowardice of the villains (especially in the last gunfight).
In the end, there’s not much to say about this movie. Is it one of the greatest action movies ever made? Yes, it most certainly is. Does it deserve that title? I can’t agree any more than I already do. It’s absolutely phenomenal and definitely one of the best John Woo has done to date.