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The Killer (The Criterion Collection)

4.7 out of 5 stars 153 customer reviews

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(Apr 01, 1998)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Hong Kong's preeminent director John Woo transforms genres from both the East and the West to create this explosive and masterful action film. Featuring Hong Kong's greatest star, Chow Yun-fat, as a killer with a conscience, the film is an exquisite dissection of morals in a corrupt society, highlighted with slow-motion sequences of brilliantly choreographed gun battles on the streets of Hong Kong.

This 1989 rouser is apocalyptic pulp--the bloodiest, showiest, most shamelessly sentimental specimen of Hong Kong's gangster melodramas. A torch singer named Jennie (Sally Yeh) is accidentally blinded during a slaying in a night club, and Chow Yun-fat's sad-eyed Jeff, a self-lacerating assassin, drags himself out of retirement to take on one last job--rubbing out a major mobster for major bucks--so he can pay for the singer's cornea transplant operation. But Jeff pauses to ferry a wounded child to the hospital during this final outing, and because of this a cop finally gets a good look at him: "He was seen on the job," snarls a saturnine Mr. Big, "and I want him wasted." Armies of thugs converge on the saintly slayer. Some of writer-director John Woo's flourishes are kitsch classics (doves flying upward in a candlelit church), while the action sequences are rapturous. "Life's cheap," a character opines. "It only takes one bullet," but in this case it actually takes about a dozen spewing bullet hits to kill anyone, as soulful triads in mirror shades and duster overcoats blaze away with high-tech weaponry. (A favorite trick involves grasping an enemy by the lapels, pulling him into a waltz embrace, and pumping several slugs into his duodenum.) Danny Lee, Chow's costar in City on Fire, is the intense, young officer who fixates on the killer's contradictory personality. --David Chute

Special Features

  • Deleted scenes

Product Details

  • Actors: Yun-Fat Chow, Danny Lee, Sally Yeh, Kong Chu, Kenneth Tsang
  • Directors: John Woo
  • Writers: John Woo
  • Producers: Hark Tsui
  • Format: Color, Letterboxed, NTSC
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: April 1, 1998
  • Run Time: 111 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (153 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 155940860X
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #129,541 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Killer (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on May 29, 2002
Format: DVD
As the popularity of Chinese cinema begins to spread in the US, two men must be noted for their contributions - Director John Woo and Actor Chow Yun-Fat. Their names are synonymous with action in Hong Kong cinema. Both have had projects that were successful (Face/Off and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, respectively) and some that were not so (Hard Target).
The Killer, however, is the apex of both their works.
It is possibly the best movie that very few people know about, and upon seeing it, it has become my mission to ensure that it becomes more widely viewed. John Woo's cinematic stylings and breathtaking action sequences are his trademark, and are often mimicked (but never duplicated) by more accessible works. Those who believe that action began with Desperado, Resevoir Dogs or The Matrix need only look to John Woo to find the obvious inspiration for these works.
Of course, as much as a gun is a weapon in action movies, Chow Yun-Fat is John Woo's weapon. Entire tales can be told simply with Yun-Fat's expressions - the ability to "act" without saying a word is sometimes underrated, but I would say that Yun-Fat challenges even DeNiro in his method-acting abilities. His on-screen charisma is electric, and no other actor in Woo's stable has been able to produce the kineticity required of a John Woo hero figure.
The two have joined forces for a number of movies, but none better than The Killer. Besides the afforementioned qualities of each individual, The Killer brings with it a story of "Real Men" in a world where honor is a dirty word. The Killer belongs with the great mafia dramas of Hollywood Cinema and with Kurosawa's samurai epics. The Killer is listed in the guidebook, "The Top 100 Movies No One Has Ever Seen." The latter half of that statement needs to be changed.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The Criterion Collection is the BEST version of The Killer!! The image is CLEAR, they added more slow-mo action scenes, the dvd have deleted scenes and the HORRIBLE close-up of the action scenes has been cutted and addapted to the screen so you can see the action in "small" (letterbox) widescreen and and well addapted to the screen (the other versions of The Killer have a HORRIBLE camera close-up and BAD images). This version brings the best quality of the movie.

Better than Hard Boiled because it has car chases, Chow Yeun Fat use two pistols on most of the action scenes with slow-mo, the story is interesting and EASY to understand, The images, camera angles and movements, and the special effects are SO MUCH better than Hard Boiled.

P.S: The only bad things are that the sound is not "surround" and the dvd doesn't have to much to offer on special features.

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Format: DVD
Due to the great success of The Criterion Collection some of the DVDs have been copied and are being produced illegally, especially be aware of fake OUT-OF-PRINT titles. Must know "Red Flags":

1. If the price is drastically LOW. Be cautious if the DVD price is significantly LOWER THAN the MSRP (retail price).
2. If an out-of-print DVD has a low "Buy It Now" price. Out-of-print DVDs are no longer being produced and TEND TO BE WORTH MORE THAN THOSE STILL IN CIRCULATION.
3. When purchasing from Asia, look to see if the DVD cover has any Asian characters on it. There have been multiple bootlegs made with this slight difference on the DVD cover. Oftentimes, bootlegs will be advertised as "official Asian Criterion DVDs". This is NOT TO BE TRUSTED! Criterion Collection has never released alternate Asian Editions of any of their DVDs and they have no plans to do so!
4. Kindly ask Seller(s) for photos of the discs, cover arts, inserts, booklets including UPC number, ISBN number, Cat.No.
5. Contact Criterion Collection via their website to verify all information seller(s) have provided before making your final decision to purchase the item you are interested in!
6. After all, the seller(s) might admit that it is a bootleg or copy. Sadly, some sellers do try and make money off of these.
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Format: DVD
Filled with grit, emotion, and psychological depth, not to mention lots and lots of blood, "The Killer" is the kind of passion play that is seen all too rarely in any style of film, let alone the action genre. In fact, John Woo's Hong Kong shoot-'em-up masterpiece resembles nothing so much as Shakespeare with thousands of bullets flying around. In this case the role of the tragic hero is assumed by Jeffrey, played in career-defining fashion by Chow Yun-Fat. Jeffrey is an amiable enough sort, who also just happens to be a fearless, unstoppable assassin with a steely glare and a deadly accurate shot. But when he accidentally blinds a lovely torch singer named Jenny while mowing down about a dozen criminals in a crowded bar, Jeffrey finds some new meaning in his life by assuming responsibility for the woman, even going so far as to try to get her a vision-restoring cornea transplant. However, everything is far from hunky-dory for Jeffrey and his ward: after committing one last job to get the money for Jenny's operation, Jeffrey finds himself pursued by a small army of thugs as well as Chang and Li, two relentless detectives. Oh, and his best friend and associate Sidney has (temporarily) betrayed him. With all that's going on, the stage is set for a struggle on an operatic scale, with Chow giving his character just the right mix of warmth and gravity.

As one would expect from a film directed by Woo, with Chow in the starring role, "The Killer" contains more than its fair share of shootouts and chase scenes, all filmed with Woo's signature frenetic visual style. However, it's what happens when the movie slows down that sets it apart from the pack. "The Killer" is as much a drama as it is an action yarn, and it's a mighty good drama at that.
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