This extremely violent and superbly made actioner demonstrates the tight grasp that director John Woo has on the crime meller genre, and his ability to twist the form into surprisingly satisfying shapes. The picture creeps up on an audience. Melodramatic from the start, it finally goes over the top to deliver a solid emotional punch.
The Killer is a buddy-buddy outing with a vengeance. Male bonding between a maverick hitman (Chow Yun-fat) and a disaffected cop (Danny Lee) is pushed to almost homoerotic extremes.
The plot itself is all too familiar. The cold-blooded assassin is doublecrossed by underworld bosses after knocking off a drug kingpin. The determined cop, on the outs with his superiors, has to catch his man or else.
Chow, a Hong Kong actor of considerable marquee value, is adept at combining pathos and chilling moral callousness. His soft underside is exposed when the plot has him falling for a cabaret singer (Sally Yeh) accidently blinded during a hit. Lee displays appealingly boyish determination and physical grace as the cop.