at the Hong Kong Film Awards 2002:
Best Film Editing (David M. Richardson)
O (Takeshi Sorimachi) and Tok (Andy Lau) are the best and
effective hitmen on the market, in their own different ways.
O is the clean and effective one while Tok likes to show off
and often go out with a bang when it comes to his assignments.
What Tok wants most though is to go face to face with O to
determine which one is the number 1 killer in the business...
To make a movie based on the novel by Edmond Pang (director
of Men Suddenly In Black and You Shoot, I Shoot)
doesn't seem like a bad idea on paper but visualizing the
content is a different matter. Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai did
have a go at it but it seems like they only wanted to represent
the book visually, nothing else. What that has resulted in
is a movie with a few great action set pieces but with a narrative
structure that pulls us viewers in all kinds of directions...a
bad thing in this movie. Many filmmakers in and outside of
Hong Kong never dare to do anything
other than according to blueprint 1A, so I welcome an alternative
way of telling a story, like in Fulltime Killer.
on we're pretty clearly shown the basic characteristics of
our two main characters. Takeshi Sorimachi's opening scene
and subsequent killing in the trainstation is a really atmospheric
and a wonderfully stylish scene which sets the tone of what
could've been a great movie. The use of slow motion of course
reminds us of the movies of John Woo but what differs it slightly
is the sound design. I don't know if it's more realistic or
not but the more mute gun sounds creates a very nice tone
to the killings themselves and it certainly fits the character
When Andy Lau's wild and whacky introduction is over we have
seen a very obvious reference to Terminator 2. A few
scenes later Tok is talking about how much he loves movies
and a Robert Rodriguez reference comes next. This was cute
and if the filmmakers would've stopped these references there,
then I wouldn't be writing this paragraph. Later on Tok is
browsing in the videostore Kelly Lin works in and he's wearing
rubber masks of different American presidents (as in Point
Break). There are no logical reasons for doing these movie
references other than to show that the directors have seen
these movies. It could've worked better if they were more
subtle or better yet, not there at all.
additional character introductions the movie spends more time
with one or two of the characters, something which is suppose
to evoke more depth and interest. That worked well up until
the point Kelly Lin's character suddenly has decided to join
Tok for a night at the movies. Why did she suddenly do that?!
An explanation is given later on in the movie but it should've
been more clear at first sight and therefore we question her
motivations all through the relationship they're developing.
I guess the directors were busy coming up with cool movie
references that they forgot to make sense of certain things.
When it then comes to character development, the directors
try and try to infuse some depth but there is nothing really
here that is new and original about their backgrounds. I don't
demand a movie to always be fresh and new but it needs to
be done in an interesting way and that is not the case here.
The casting had some potential but unfortunately only one
could do something with the material at hand and that is Japanese
actor Takashi Sorimachi. He really looks the part of O and
has the charisma to bring the character to life. The script
by Wai Ka-Fai and Joseph O'Bryan doesn't give the character
of O very much but in the hands of Taskashi Sorimachi he becomes
Andy Lau has shown a few times that he can somewhat act if
he tries (his performance in A Fighter's Blues was
pretty good) but here he seems to rely only on his good looks
doesn't really show any solid acting or depth. Again his character
is very lifeless already on the script paper so I don't solely
blame Andy for the performance he gives here.
really hoping for a good performance out of Simon Yam here
but he can't escape the fact that his cop role is one we've
seen many, many times in movies. His part contains some truly
cringing dialogue and the clichés are painfully obvious.
But sometimes a terrific actor like Simon can't do anything
more than what is written. His acting may have been better
if he had been allowed to speak Cantonese, something which
leads us into the choice of languages...
Fulltime Killer actually employs fairly equal amounts
of Cantonese, English and Japanese dialogue. This is of course
done to lure in the international market but also to create
a realism, since our characters are from different Asian countries.
Good thinking but again especially the English dialogue is
so painfully bad that I sort of wished they just dubbed it
into Cantonese instead.
Technically this movie rates very high. The almost burning
cinematography works very well and the different action scenes
are pretty well choreographed. Among the highlights are the
mentioned trainstation sequence and the big shoot-out between
the police, O and Tok. The latter scene doesn't weigh up the
movie since it soon once again takes a failed turn in it's
narrative. When we eventually make it to the end I was hoping
for the movie to blow me away with a killer ending shoot-out.
Sadly all during this scene I was hoping for the movie to
is not a good sign.
Killer had moments which could have been enough for me
to consider it a decent actionfilm. But because of several
failed aspects this movie gets no recommendation from me.
The Deltamac dvd presentation is one of the better ones I've
seen of a Hong Kong movie lately. Mainly in terms of extras
but more on that below. The 1.85:1 aspect ratio is preserved
and the movie looks sharp throughout, as expected for such
a recent movie. Specs and marks show up on a few occasions
though. The lack of anamorphic enhancement is slightly disappointing
but not all HK dvd companies have jumped on that wagon yet.
The disc has Cantonese and Mandarin audio options and Dolby
Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1. Overall the track was a well made
affair. The mentioned sound design makes the track seem held
back but I thought this worked very well. Surrounds are used
nicely for ambience and music so all in all this was a pleasant
The English subtitles are very well done but it translates
all dialogue including the English one. Separate subtitles
for only English, Cantonese and Japanese dialogue is a bit
too much too expect from a HK dvd I guess. Traditional and
simplified Chinese subtitles are also included.
Under the special features menu we find a more than the usual
amount of extras for a HK dvd. Behind The Scenes offers
23 minutes of unsubtitled raw video footage from the set.
This is pretty cool but get tiresome when we have to watch
the same shot being done over and over again. But hey, that's
what movies are like to make.
The Making Of runs for 25 minutes but has no subtitles
so it's only useful for some additional behind the scenes
The Photo Gallery consists of 20 stills from the movie
and is nothing you'll flip through more than once.
There's also a biography on co-director Johnnie To which has
some basic info but the best part is the listing of awards
and nominations his movies have gotten over the years. Also
included are short notes on Andy Lau's company Teamwork Motion
Pictures Limited, character profiles and the theatrical trailer.
reviewed by Kenneth
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