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Fulltime Killer
2001 - R - 102 Mins.
Director: Johnny To and Ka-Fai Wai
Producer: Johnny To
Written By: Joey O'Bryan
Starring: Andy Lau, Takashi Sorimach, Kelly Lin, Simon Yam, Cherrie Ying
Review by: Jennie Kermode
A potent slice of Hong Kong action, superbly choreographed and exceedingly violent, 'Fulltime Killer' has been accused of being too similar to Luc Besson's 'The Professional', yet in truth it has advantages which are all its own. It references other movies all the way through, as one of the central characters, flashy would be number one killer Tok (Andy Lau) is obsessed with them; most of the references are playful and make fun of other films which did the same thing, such as 'El Mariachi'; others are surprisingly subtle. For a film which spends much of its time whizzing from one gunfight to the next, it's impressive how many subtle details this manages to cram in, and curious that there are layers of plot which depend on viewers being astute enough to pay attention to passing remarks.

<p>'Fulltime Killer' tells of the love triangle between Tok, established assassin O and video shop assistant Chin, who moonlights as a cleaner for O's uninhabited apartment. Tok's desire to be the best leads him to become increasingly obsessed with O, who is growing increasingly reluctant to continue in the business following a tragic personal encounter. Chin is far more complicated than she seems, easily as strong as the male characters, and perhaps more dangerous than either. Added to this is police chief Lee, who has cast himself as Captain Ahab in pursuit of his famous yet elusive quarry, yet who is beginning to have doubts which may lead him to a strange sort of salvation. Even the psychopathic Tok has hidden depths, his tragic history, only gradually revealed, having doomed him to a classically inescapable path of destruction. Perhaps the least developed of the characters is O himself, though he is the one we meet first, yet Takashi Sorimachi's passionate performance and our growing awareness of the tragedies in his own life make him easy to identify with. What is most curious about all this, however, is the ending, which offers unexpected resolution, complex but believable, rather than taking the conventional option of having everybody die.

<p>'Fulltime Killer' was nominated for Best Film Editing at the Hong Kong film awards in 2002, and it's easy to see why. There's some terrific camerawork here too, and stunning set pieces. When we see characters survive against overwhelming odds, it's not only thrilling but actually believable. Though this is not the most original of films in terms of its subject matter or the basis of its plot, it is superbly handled, and well worth watching.
Movie Guru Rating
An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater.
  4 out of 5 stars

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