Published Sep 01, 2001
Hong Kong filmmakers deserve a ton of credit for making action-packed hit man pictures that seamlessly weave in romance and comedy. "Full Time Killer" pulls off all these elements with style. The film is based on the 1998 novel by Edmond Pang.
O, played by Takashi Sorimachi, is the city's number one assassin. Cool and quiet, he carries out his hits in a smooth and ruthless slow motion manner. Tok is the new guy on the block. "He's reckless and showy," says another character of him, "but gets the job done." Tok is after O's title and willing to go to all ends to get it. Caught between them is O's cleaning lady, Chin (Kelly Lin). She is watched by O from across the street in his real hideout where he stays to keep his enemies off his trail. She also works in a video store frequented by Tok, who tells her he rents movies he's already seen because he doesn't have a TV. Tok , played by Andy Lau who also co-produced the film, is an action movie junkie and "Full Time Killer" contains many references to the genre with nods to everything from "The Killer" to "Point Break" to the "Terminator" movies . The violence is stylish and original, especially coming from Tok, who uses it as a way to make his mark.
In one scene he meets her for a drink and tells her he is a hit man. He then shows her an oversized syringe filled with nicotine and explains how to extract the nicotine from cigarettes. He then politely excuses himself, saying "I gotta kill some people. Be right back." The line between humour and violence is danced around deftly by directors To and Fa. O is always cool, and often bathed in blue light while Tok's brash side is highlighted with flashy leather outfits and cowboy boots. As the two get closer to their inevitable showdown they are hunted by an Interpol detective played by Simon Yam ("Bullet In The Head"). He is investigating a murder committed by O in the film's opening sequence. Before he offs his target in a train station, he is recoginised by an old school friend. Not having any other option he kiils his former chum as a voiceover says "In our business you're bound to rub out someone you know." As the detective gets closer to the two of them, getting into their heads, his own sanity begins to suffer.
The action is what we've come to expect from the Hong Kong action pack. A stylish ballet of violence perpetrated by cold-blooded, but honourable killers who never miss and are willing to die for the job. Or the woman they love.