Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 15th, 2004
Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1989
Director: John Woo
Writer: John Woo
Cast: Chow Yun-Fat,Danny Lee,Sally Yeh
DVD Released: September 29th, 2000
Approximate Running Time: 110 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Cantonese, Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Winstar
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: OOP
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 is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1:85:1. The Non-Anamorphic transfer’s colors are sharp and the grain it kept to a minimum. This is one of Winstars better DVD transfers to date. The Subtitles are easy to read and follow.
The audio is presented on this DVD in its original mono soundtrack. Included are two audio options Cantonese and English (Dubbed). Both audio tracks get the job done, but a Dolby Digital 5.1 track would have been nice.
The DVD contains an audio commentary with John Woo who provides a lot of information about The Killer and his influences in between his moments of silence. Production notes, a talent file for John Woo and theatrical trailers for The Killer and Hardboiled.
Winstar and The Criterion Collection DVD’S for The Killer are now OOP. Unfortunately for those who aren’t region free finding a copy of The Killer might not be that easy. Available are several non-region 1 releases currently on the market. The best one of the lot is region 2 Hong Kong Legends DVD for The Killer.