Fulltime Killers: Deconstruction of HK films or just homage?

Phil Florian

Screenwriter
Joined
Mar 10, 2001
Messages
1,188
Howdy,
Just saw a very fine Hong Kong action film at the Cleveland International Film Festival. It is called "Fulltime Killers" and stars (and I think was produced and/or written by) Andy Lau. Beyond him, only one guy looked familiar but for me it was a lot of new faces and a breath of fresh air in the action genre. I don't know the history of this flick as I hadn't heard of it until last week but it is a 2001 movie that is part homage, part deconstruction of the HK film universe.

On one level, it is a great slice of HK action. Great cinematography along with furious and clever action scenes reminescent of Woo, Hark or Lam from their heyday. On another level, it is a great homage, putting in reference both subtle and direct of films like "Hard Boiled", "Desperado", "Leon", and others. The basic premise is the traditional battle between assassins with one being the "noble assassin" who only kills those he is paid to kill (mostly) and the other is the new upstart wanting to unseat this "number one killer." There is the woman who gets in between, the cops who want to find them and a few thousand bullets. The upstart loves movies and quotes them often and there is where some (but not all) of the references come from.

It is also deconstruction of the genre, pulling apart and commenting on the genre as a whole. For me, I have yet to see a HK action flick become so self-referential and self-aware of its absurdist look at action cinema. This portion of the film comes through most with a person trying to write the story of the two assassins (I won't say how he gets involved as it is a fun part of the story).

I hope this makes it to Region 1 DVD. The action scenes are worth it alone, but the references are so fun to point out that a single viewing can be taken up just pointing them out. This isn't to say that the film is one rip off after another. Not at all. The homage is couched in a great stand-alone story and while some bits are lifted from other films, there are plenty of original bits that hold their own.

If you get a chance to see this gem, do it. I will be looking for the DVD as a keeper.


Phil
 

Scott Weinberg

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 3, 2000
Messages
7,477
Phil,

I saw the flick at the SXSW Film Festival and had a real good time with it.

I do agree with your analyses. The flick works as homage, semi-parody, subtle comedy, and outright action insanity. Fans of Asian cinema should certainly enjoy it, as should those who just dig stylish action movies.

Unfortunately it showed at midnight and the film broke (predicating a 20-minute delay) so I kind of got 'sucked out' of any cohesive movie experience. I will see it again though!

According to the IMDb, the film was released limited on March 21st, though I'm starting to think that's an erroneous date. I'll have to check on that...
 

Phil Florian

Screenwriter
Joined
Mar 10, 2001
Messages
1,188
Sweet. After posting I found it all over. Very excited. Why is it getting the US release so late? Why the festival circuit? Not that I am not happy about it. It is rare to see new/recent HK films on the big screen as it is and to see a delicious one is great.


Phil
 

LennyP

Supporting Actor
Joined
Jun 20, 2002
Messages
587
It's actually Fulltime Killer, singular, I've had the DVD for over a year, it's a fun movie! Subtitles suck there though, I want an official R1 version.
 

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