Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 1st, 2010
BluRay released: March 2nd, 2010
Approximate running time: 106 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Interlaced
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Cantonese, Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
BluRay Release: Dragon Dynasty
Region Coding: Region 0
Retail Price: $24.95
Synopsis: 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.
After the success of A Better Tomorrow and A Better Tomorrow 2, John Woo had become Hong Kong’s most in demand director. At the same he had with the A Better Tomorrow films help launch a new genre of films referred to as Heroic Bloodshed. 1989 would be an important year for John Woo and with the release of The Killer through a very limited theatrical release and the film festival circuit. The Killer would become John Woo and Chow Yun-Fat’s major breakthrough with western audiences.
The killer is a captivating story about a hit man with its multi-layered plot and fascinating characters make The Killer more than just an action film. Chow Yun-Fat gives the best performance of his career as a Killer who has found redemption and wants out of the assignation business. Even though The Killer is filled with operatic gun-play and highly stylized visuals that John Woo is most known. He keeps the action more ground in The Killer then in any of his other films by never letting the action set pieces overshadow the characters and their motivations. Drawing on his love of American, Japanese and French crime films John Woo, through his economical writing, weaves a tale that is rich in character and plot. The action sequences are inspired and will leave you breathless. John Woo has cited on numerous occasions that Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samurai was a film which inspired him to make The Killer. If you like crime films with elements of samurai and spaghetti western films mixed in, I highly recommended that you check out John Woo’s The Killer.
The Killer comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 interlaced anamorphic widescreen. This is the third home video release of The Killer that I have seen. With the other two releases being the Winstar’s region 0 NTSC DVD release and Hong Kong Legends region 2 PAL DVD release. When compared to those two DVD release the transfer for this BluRay improves upon colors and black levels, flesh tones look more accurate, the image looks cleaner and sharper. Also this release appears to be a PAL to NTSC conversion with the time length coming in at 1:46:38 while the Winstar DVD release clocks in at 1:50:28 and the Hong Kong Legends DVD clocks in at 1:47:12.
This release comes with two audio options, Dolby Digital Mono Cantonese and Dolby Digital 5.1 English. Removable English, English SDH and Spanish subtitles have been included. The subtitles appear to identical to the subtitle track from the Hong Kong Legends DVD release. Both audio mixes sound clean, clear and balanced.
Extras for this release include 5 deleted scenes, two trailers for The Killer, trailers for Last Hurrah for Chivalry, A Better Tomorrow and Hard Boiled. Other extras include a interview with writer / director John Woo (23 minutes 47 seconds – anamorphic widescreen) and a segment titled “The Killer: Locations” (8 minutes 47 seconds – anamorphic widescreen). Rounding out the extras are two Q & A’s with John Woo, The Killer (11 minutes 35 seconds – 4:3 full frame) and Hard Boiled (35 minutes 1 second – 4:3 full frame). Overall yet another transfer of The Killer that comes up short. This release while flawed, it will have to do until a more definite presentation finally comes along.