The Killer (1989)
(Rewatched 9 June 2012.)
My recent rewatch of Hard-Boiled and The Killer confirmed what I thought when I first saw them just under ten years ago: The Killer is the better of the two movies.
The Killer’s action scenes might not be quite as over the top, lengthy or ambitious as those of Hard-Boiled, but they’re tighter and less repetitive, and are at least as memorable. The Killer might not have any equivalent of that continuous two-minute single shot, but does Hard-Boiled have any single moment quite as good as Chow Yun-Fat throwing a tourniquet onto his arm in slow-motion? No it does not. I rest my case!
There are also numerous smaller moments that are just as interestingly-directed as the gunfights: the use of gunpowder to cauterise a wound; the camera orbiting outside a window, comparing the two protagonists; and the depiction of Ah Jong’s mentor’s inability to catch a drinks can with his injured right hand.
I like the film’s more lighthearted and absurd things, too: Ah Jong and Li’s attempts to hide their Mexican standoff from the blind Jenny, and the characters’ insistence, right until the end, on only being known by their nicknames (which are “Runt” and “Shrimp Head” in the subtitles of the Hong Kong Legends DVD I own; they’re “Dumbo” and “Mickey Mouse” in the dub).