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Film Review

Andy Lay shows Kelly Linn how to
execute people for fun and money
Fulltime Killer
by Jurgen Fauth

Guide Rating -  


"I like action movies," professional assassin Tok (Andy Lau) tells us by way of introduction. "Foreign, domestic, I like all of them, just as long as they're not boring and have fresh ideas." By its own standards, "Fulltime Killer" succeeds, just barely.

Directors Johnnie To and Wai Ka Fai are trying hard not to be boring. This story about the rivalry between two killers offers all the prerequisite treats of aesthetized violence: tricked-out camera moves, slo-mo bullet ballet, and blood splattering on the camera lens. Some of the visual gags work well-- like the open assault in the middle of the street by a masked killer looking like an absurd Bill Clinton with a double-barelled shotgun.

Stars Andy Lau, Takashi Sorimachi and Kelly Lin are appealing, but their dialogue is often painfully silly. Kelly Lin transforms from frumpy video store clerk to tough automatic-weapon-wielding action heroine through that time-honored movie make-over, taking off her glasses.

As Pan-Asian action fusion, "Fulltime Killer" is a notch above the regular fare as far as characters and detail are concerned. Killers with seizures foam at the mouth and killers trade for their snoopy collections, but surprisingly, the action set pieces don't quite deliver what they promise. I know it's hard to imagine, but the finale, an all-out gunfight in a fireworks factory (possibly the first since "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?") comes off as strangely dull. The film's not poorly constructed and richer than comparable Hong Kong action flicks, but that's not enough to recommend it to anybody but fans of the genre.

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