×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Hitman

Jet Li is showcased to good effect in "The Hitman," an above-average blend of comedy and action that was his most recent release in East Asia prior to "Lethal Weapon 4."

With:
Fu - Jet Li Ngok Lo - Eric Tsang Kwan - Simon Yam Kiki - Gigi Leung Eiji - Keiji Sato With: Paul Rapovski, Ip Kwong-kim, Hideri Meiken, Timmy Ho.

Jet Li is showcased to good effect in “The Hitman,” an above-average blend of comedy and action that was his most recent release in East Asia prior to “Lethal Weapon 4.” Cast in a role he’s honed to perfection — the seemingly dumb mainlander manipulated by wiseacre Hongkies — Li plays well against local comic Eric Tsang and is given a range of opportunities to show his action smarts under helmer Tung Wai, an experienced stunt coordinator. Result took a reasonable HK$10 million ($1.5 million) locally this spring.

Following the assassination in Hong Kong of a sleazy Japanese businessman, various parties congregate at a meeting held by the overseers of the dead man’s Revenge Fund, a $100 million pot set up to find his killer. Fu (Li), a penniless mainlander, stumbles into the meeting by chance and is taken under the wing of Ngok Lo (Tsang), a fast-talking agent for professional hit men who proposes Fu as his rep to track down the killer.

In some of the funniest scenes, Ngok buys Fu a new wardrobe and coaches the rube in Hong Kong ways. Fu also strikes sparks with Ngok’s daughter, Kiki (Gigi Leung), a young lawyer who’s permanently embarrassed by her dad’s background. Meanwhile, Fu and Ngok have to stay one step ahead of Eiji (Keiji Sato), psycho son of the dead businessman, who is also after the assassin — reputed to be the mythical Killing Angel, already responsible for a series of vigilante murders of human trash.

Kitted out with B&W flashbacks and some stylish set pieces, pic is stronger on character and technically more honed than most directed by stunt coordinators. Though Tsang, as the idler Ngok, dominates all scenes he’s in, Li evinces a quiet control that hints at power in reserve, and his action bits are as much about agility as they are about fighting. (An early scene of him chasing a coin rolling down the street is a good, Jackie Chan-ish example.)

Structurally, pic veers in all directions and the script often does somersaults to reconcile some of its loose ends. The cute Leung is underemployed as the daughter, and Simon Yam, a star in his own right, often seems to be in a different movie, as a cop in charge of a “Rising Sun”-like investigation into the magnate’s death.

The Hitman

Hong Kong

Production: A Flea Market production, for Win's Entertainment/China Star Entertainment Group. Produced by Charles Heung. Executive producer, Gordon Chan. Directed by Tung Wai. Screenplay, Chan Hing-kar, Vincent Kuk, Cheng Kam-fu.

Crew: Camera (color), Arthur Wong; editor, Cheung Ka-fai; music, T. TWO; art director, Bill Lui; costumes, Shirley Chan; sound, in Dolby Digital; action directors, Tung, Ku Huan-chiu, Ling Chi-wah, Chan Siu-wah. Reviewed on videodisc, London, Aug. 2, 1998. (In Fant-Asia Film Festival, Montreal.) Running time: 103 MIN.

With: Fu - Jet Li Ngok Lo - Eric Tsang Kwan - Simon Yam Kiki - Gigi Leung Eiji - Keiji Sato With: Paul Rapovski, Ip Kwong-kim, Hideri Meiken, Timmy Ho.

More Film

  • Queen of Scots Hair and Makeup

    'Mary Queen of Scots' Hair, Makeup Artist Gave Substance and Style to Battling Queens

    Jenny Shircore has done the makeup and hair of several queens over the years: Cate Blanchett in “Elizabeth” and “Elizabeth: The Golden Age” (she won an Oscar for the former) and Emily Blunt in “The Young Victoria.”  In fact, she had to be convinced to do it again for Saoirse Ronan’s Queen Mary and Margot Robbie’s [...]

  • Richard E. Grant Variety Facetime Interview

    Richard E. Grant on Working With Melissa McCarthy on 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?'

    Richard E. Grant has been winning kudos for his supporting role in Fox Searchlight’s “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” The film, written by Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty, was directed by Marielle Heller and stars Melissa McCarthy as real-life celebrity biography Lee Israel. Was “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” a fast shoot? Yes, 26 days and [...]

  • WME Veteran Ari Greenburg Promoted to

    WME Veteran Ari Greenburg Promoted to President of Talent Agency

    WME veteran Ari Greenburg, one of the original Endeavor staffers who helped build the talent agency that became an industry powerhouse, has been promoted to president. Greenburg will oversee all daily operations across WME and its offices in Beverly Hills, New York, Nashville, London and Sydney. The promotion recognizes the role that Greenburg has played [...]

  • Alfonso Cuaron Says He Owes 'Roma'

    Alfonso Cuaron Says He Owes 'Roma' in Part to Cannes' Thierry Fremaux

    At a special screening of “Roma” in Paris, Alfonso Cuaron said he owed the film to Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux, who encouraged him to return to Mexico to make a movie – and who, ironically, failed to nab the title for Cannes because of the festival’s spat with Netflix. Fremaux was eager to select [...]

  • Forrest Gump

    Guild of Music Supervisors Awards to Honor Joel Sill; King Princess to Perform (EXCLUSIVE)

    The Guild of Music Supervisors has announced that Joel Sill will receive the organization’s Legacy Award for his contribution to music in film. Sill’s body of work includes “Forrest Gump,” “The Goonies,” “Blade Runner,” “The Color Purple” and “My Cousin Vinny.” He will be joined by Spotify’s RISE artist, King Princess, who will be performing as [...]

  • Vice Christian Bale Sam Rockwell Playback

    Listen: Christian Bale and Sam Rockwell on Early Acting Days and Reuniting for 'Vice'

    PLAYBACK is a Variety / iHeartRadio podcast bringing you conversations with the talents behind many of today’s hottest films. New episodes air every Thursday. Oscar-winning actors Christian Bale and Sam Rockwell first met 20 years ago on the Italy-set production of Michael Hoffman’s Shakespeare adaptation “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” With the business in their blood [...]

  • Rebecca Campbell Disney

    Disney Sets Out International Leadership Team Post-Fox Deal

    Rebecca Campbell, Diego Lerner and Uday Shankar are set to be Disney’s three key international chiefs when its deal for 21st Century Fox closes, the company announced Thursday. Campbell will run the Europe, Middle East and Africa team under the new structure, which is conditional on the Fox deal closing. She also adds Russia and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content