Fulltime Killer Review

Johnny To has a habit of making very different movies. On the one hand he makes some pretty indie films, films that he makes just for his own personal benefit, and then there are the Blockbusters to help him make his livelihood. Fulltime Killer is one of those Blockbusters, a real hardcore action movie that, like most action movies, has hardly any plot. Why do we watch it, because it's damn fun.

As the title would suggest, the movie is about hit men. It's pretty simple really. There is O who is the seasoned assassin, considered number one in most of Asia. And then there's Tok, the young kind of crazy assassin who wants to overthrow O. Throw in a love interest called Chin for both O and Tok, some crazy action sequences, and that is Fulltime Killer.

What's great about this movie is that it's not trying to be something it's not like so many action movies nowadays. It's not trying to have an awesome story, although at times it is pretty interesting to learn about O's and Tok's history, and *gasp* betrayals! It's straight action with people getting capped in both knees with a shotgun, car chases, police raids, and the ultimate assassin showdown where both are tested on their knowledge of...Metal Slug? Yeah, that's right, there's even video game references. Hell, the whole movie is like a video game.

Andy Lau and Takashi Sorimachi are great in this movie. The way that both approached their character is great and both really let the true nature of O and Tok shine. O is more refined, subtle in his approaches whereas Tok is more showy, trying to prove to everyone that he is the best and most capable. The funny thing about these characters, is that they are pretty much the opposite of the actors. Lau tends to be more quiet and introspective while Sorimachi is louder and apparently more fun (at least that's what I gleaned from the interview on the DVD). Kelly Lin, is decent as the girl torn between both men. Which one does she want? Well whichever one is alive at the end. I'll explain the relationship a little. Chin is O's housekeeper at a house he doesn't live at and she just meets Tok at her work. It's that simple. Moving on.

There is, of course, the police detective Lee (Simon Yam) who is never quite able to catch either man, and who is telling the movie through his book. All of the characters are well acted and well chosen. Maybe the most difficult part of the movie is the fact that there are four different languages: English, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Japanese. There's a nice little scene where O and Tok are having a drink together and are teaching each other swear words in their respective languages. It's quite funny. Ah beer and swear words, things that bind the world together.

The other great addition to the movie was the musical accompaniment. Everything was very dramatic, classical. Music that you wouldn't mind dying to, I sure wouldn't. It's a rare thing indeed when the music actually fits the various moods of the movie. In one scene we see Tok playing away, in another we see him blowing away some guy to a similar classical beat. I also enjoyed the movie references, for example Point Break. There are also some interesting facts, like did you know that if you left a bunch of cigarettes in a jar of water and let it sit for a bout a week, that the leftover liquid, if ingested, is toxic? Of course you do, but the fact that we're told this in a movie is pretty cool.

Overall, this is an action movie that everyone can enjoy. There are lots of guns, assassins, and a hot Asian chick, who can really ask for anymore? There's even a pretty basic plot, or at least a reason for this movie: Who is the best assassin in Asia O or Tok? I'll leave that up to you to decide.

"Fulltime Killer" opens December 31, 1969 and is rated R. Action. Directed by Johnnie To, Ka Fai Wai. Written by Joey O'Bryan, Ho-Cheung Pan. Starring Andy Lau, Kelly Lin, Simon Yam, Takashi Sorimachi, Teddy Lin.



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