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Killer, The :Comparison (Winstar vs. Hong Kong Legends) 
Written by: on October 23rd, 2004
Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1989
Director: John Woo
Writer: John Woo
Cast: Chow Yun-Fat, Danny Lee, Sally Yeh
the killer
the killer
DVD released: 2000 2002
Approximate running time: 110 minutes 107 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: NR 18
Sound: Dolby Digital stereo English and Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 English and Cantonese
DVD Release: Winstar Hong Kong Legends
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC Region 2 PAL
Retail Price: OOP $22.95

Winstar’s Region 1 DVD
Hong Kong Legends Region 2 DVD

The Film :

John (Chow Yun-Fat) is a hit man who wants to get out of the business, first he has one last job to do for a friend. During the hit John accidentally blinds a nightclub singer Jenny (Sally Yeh). Feeling guilty John at first keeps tabs on her and before long he works his way into her life as a potential suitor. John decides to take on one last job so that he can take Jenny to America for an operation that will restore her sight. John finds out that he has been double crossed by the mob when they have put a contract on his life.

Video:

The framing on both releases is nearly identical. Hong Kong Legends release has a more vivid color palette with an exceptional amount of detail present in darker scenes as well as day time scenes. Winstars release has some minor print damage and grain is kept to a minimum. The colors for Winstars release look muted and the overall detail is soft at times. Hong Kong Legends release obviously had better source material to work with as it soundly beats Winstars release.

Audio:

Winstars release comes with Dolby Digital stereo English and Cantonese audio options. Both of these tracks are clean for the most part as dialog and action are easy to follow. Hong Kong Legends release comes with Dolby Digital 5.1 English and Cantonese audio options. Both these tracks are free of hiss or distortion. They make goods use of the front and rear channels as they immerse the viewing in the action. The Hong Kong Legends release has subtitles that are an authentic translation while the Winstar release uses subtitles that are inaccurate at times. Once again I have to give a slight edge to Hong Kong Legends release as their audio gives this film the visceral punch that Winstars release lacked.

Extras:

Winstars release comes with production notes as well as trailers for The Killer and Hardboiled. The man extra on the Winstar release is an audio commentary with John Woo who provides a lot of information about The Killer and his cinema influences. Hong Kong Legends release comes with a wealth of extras including interviews with Sally Yeh, Kenneth Tsang and Peter Pau. Other extras include the films original trailer and several deleted scenes. Rounding out the extras is an audio commentary with Hong Kong cinema expert Bey Logan. The commentary is filled with an abundance of facts and incite into the cinema of John Woo. At one point Bey Logan even mentions how he had asked John Woo too does this commentary with him only to refuse since he had already done two commentaries for the Killer already. Outside of the presence of John Woo the Hong Kong Legends release in near perfect in the extras department.

Overall:

Hong Kong Legends release is superior to Winstars release in every way and for now Hong Kong Legends release is the definitive version of John Woo’s masterpiece The Killer.

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