HITMAN (1998-HK)
review by Jerome

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Jet Li is Hitman!
The Hitman was supposedly Jet Li’s last film in Hong Kong before moving to Hollywood, but it looks as things have changed with his new film Fearless out in 2006. Shot back in 1998, the plot of the Hitman centres in on the Hitman known as the “Killing Angel”. The Killing Angel works without payment and is admired by many assassins. The opening scenes showcase the Killing Angel takeout Japanese businessman / war criminal Tsukamoto, because he was a rapist of Chinese and because he killed the family of Uncle Leung. Before killing him with a shotgun, the Killing Angel forces Tsukamoto to swallow a war bond from World War II. The threat of a revenge fund worth $50 million US coming into effect, if Tsukamoto is killed doesn’t scare the Killing Angel.

Enter Fu (Jet Li), a former soldier from the Golden Triangle and a mainlander from China, working for Kau (Yuen Tak). Fu’s status seems to be that of very low class but wants to find work as an assassin, but spends all day talking to his mother on the phone. He hears of the incident at the Tsukamoto Centre in Hong Kong and decides to try and participate in the activities related to the revenge fund. Unable to be let in, he meets Ngok Lo (Eric Tsang) and is invited as a guest. During the meeting between the Fund manager and other assassins, the HK Police led by Simon Yam examine them all to check out their motives. Ngok Lo invests in the fund. Whoever kills the Killing Angel gets the kitty.

Off to a tricky start, Ngok Lo hires Fu as an assassin for him. Firstly, he asks him whether he has killed anyone before. Fu replies that he has. Dressing Fu in clothes suitable for a Hitman, provides some comic relief and even pays tribute to the coats worn by Chow Yun Fat in the A Better Tommorrow series. Fu is reluctant to kill his first target (Frankie Ng), as he helped his son win a toy. Fu actually saved him, as other assassins from Fu’s hometown try to wipe out the target first hand. But to alarm, the HK police show up and kill the other assassin. They take Fu and Ngok Lo into custody asking them of their relationship. Ngok Lo’s daughter Kiki (Gigi Leung) and her fiance David (Timmy Ho) bail them out of police station.

Kiki is a lawyer whose father Ngok Lo, was involved in a life of crime from her childhood years. Believing that her father does not love her, she asks Fu to tell her what activities he has been involved in.

Things start to spiral, after Ngok Lo looks for Uncle Leung because he was known also as the Killing Angel, but not the true Killing Angel. Tsukamoto’s grandson (Sato Keiji) traces the war bond found in his grandfather’s stomach back to Uncle Leung and takes his band of thugs to find and eliminate him. Ngok Lo and Fu, race in time to find Uncle Leung but are thwarted by Tsukamoto’s grandson and his thugs. Uncle Leung dies in the process and no evidence linking him to the Killing Angel is discovered until his bank account details are hacked into and is traced back to Ngok Lo. On the run from assassins, Ngok Lo and Fu concoct a plan to get the revenge fund reward with him pretending to kill Ngok Lo.

On the evening of Kiki’s fiancés father’s birthday, Simon Yam’s HK Cop shows up dancing with her. Fu suspects the cop maybe the Killing Angel but we’ll find out his identity at the climax.

The fight scenes choreographed by director Stephen Tung are very well executed with no wires. The best fight scenes occur in the elevator scene, the first fight with the foreign henchman and at the climax of the film. Gigi Leung plays her character well but is underused and limited to the role of the concerned daughter. Jet Li’s Fu, despite changing dialects in speech gives a good performance as the soft assassin, while Eric Tsang gives us a little comedy as Ngok Lo in between serious points in the film.

While not being Jet Li’s best offering, he does show some emotions when he goes ice skating with Gigi Leung and wins toys for children in the amusement park.

I rate it 7.5/10

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Genre: Action
Director: Director: Stephen Tung
Cast: Jet Li, Eric Tsang, Simon Yam, Gigi Leung, Timmy Ho, Sato Keiji, Dion Lam, Yuen Tak, Frankie Ng Chi Hung.
Reviewed by Jerome (Bart), December 2005