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Fulltime Killer (2001)
Fulltime Killer (simplified Chinese: 全职杀手; traditional Chinese: 全職殺手; Cantonese Yale: Chuen Jik Sat Sau; pinyin: Quanzhi Shashou; literally "Fulltime Assassin") is a 2001 Hong Kong action drama film co-produced and directed by Johnnie To and Wai Ka-Fai, and based on Pang Ho-Cheung's novel of the same name. It is informally known by its Hong Kong English working title You & I. Based on a book by Hong Kong filmmaker Edmond Pang Ho-Cheung, Fulltime Killer protagonist O is a hitman being challenged by new hotshot Tok. O has lived a life of seclusion as the number one hitman in Asia. The woman living at his contact address is captured after O foils a set-up by his boss. He then goes on the run whilst trying to fend off his adversary. The last part of the movie focuses on an Interpol detective's attempt to write the story of Tok and O. The film has two endings. The normal one that appeared in theaters and the special ending for Malaysia where O and Chin end up being caught by police. This was supposedly done as per special request to show that "Crime doesn't pay" .
To and his partner Ka-Fai Wai have constructed a beautiful, energetic take upon the old standard of dueling Asian assassins vying for the position of Number One Killer. The woman who stands between them and the burnout police officer determined to stop them only add more gunpowder to the wild ride.
For years, master assassin O (Takashi Sorimahci) has lived a secluded life without any outside contact. With the death of his love Nancy, the loneliness only grows stronger. Tok (Andy Lau) is a flamboyant newcomer who revels in killing and strives to become No. 1 killer, removing O from the throne. Chin (Kelly Lin) is O's part-time housekeeper, and she becomes entangled with both men. Meanwhile, Interpol agent Lee (Simon Yam) has tracked O's trail and becomes the unwilling documenter of the power struggle.
At times, the film seems lifted directly from Luc Besson's The Professional (Léon) and the popular Japanese manga Crying Freeman. Tok's character is a redux of Gary Oldman's cop in The Professional. The secluded assassin O is a bit too close to Crying Freeman's main character Freeman, minus the odd crying issue. Tok even mentions Crying Freeman in the film! Luckily, the glue that holds this rickety ship together is the reckless pursuit of both Tok and O by the great Asian actor Simon Yam, delivering a blistering performance as Interpol agent Lee.
But forget the story. The stylistic directing infuses the film with brilliant moments of mayhem and engaging dolly shots that swing deliberately into crazed firefights. The film zips along, and instead of relying on endless CG effects and faceless characters, gives us a no-holds-barred cinematic treat.
The reissued DVD features an awesome surround sound audio track plus a couple of extras -- a making of featurette and a compilation of behind the scenes footage.
Aka Chuen jik sat sau. Screened at the 45th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival.
Fulltime killer with a part-time firearm.