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Sensitive New-Age Killer

For his third feature and first shot on film, John Woo aficionado Mark Savage tackles a Woo-like saga of friendship and betrayal but lacks the expertise and the budget to pull it off. Result is a mildly diverting shoot-'em-up that will zap into vidbins before you can say "Mexican standoff."

With:
With: Paul Moder, Kevin Hopkins, Helen Hopkins, Carolyn Bock, Frank Bren.

For his third feature and first shot on film, John Woo aficionado Mark Savage tackles a Woo-like saga of friendship and betrayal but lacks the expertise and the budget to pull it off. Result is a mildly diverting shoot-’em-up that will zap into vidbins before you can say “Mexican standoff.”

Titular hero is happily married to his childhood sweetheart and the father of a cute daughter. Ever since he witnessed a killing by a notorious hit man, the Snake, as a child, he’s wanted to be a killer, and for some years he and his partner have been carrying out contract executions in the burbs of Melbourne.

He’s arrested by a sex-mad policewoman who likes to use her handcuffs in bed, and confronts the Snake when he discovers they’re working on the same job. He also gets involved in numerous shooting situations, where, toting a pair of handguns, he’s confronted by rapid-firing villains whose bullets mysteriously never touch him. These scenes are staged with plenty of bravado but little conviction, and look decidedly secondhand and passe when compared with the real thing.

Attempts at humor mostly fall flat, and the plotting is just too linear and uncomplicated to create much interest. Paul Molder is OK as the family man/gun for hire, while Kevin Hopkins is hissable but shallow as his double-crossing partner. Helen Hopkins and Carolyn Bock have thankless roles as the wife and the policewoman, respectively; Frank Bren is suitably nasty as the aging Snake.

Technical credits are humble, with composer Cesary Skubiszewski’s music sometimes strikingly at odds with what’s onscreen.

Sensitive New-Age Killer

Australia

Production: A Frisson production. Produced by John Brousek, Mark Savage. Executive producer, Anne Tindall. Directed by Mark Savage. Screenplay, Savage, David Richardson.

Crew: Camera (color), Richardson; editors, Robin Brennan, Anthony Egan; music, Cesary Skubiszewski; production designer, Ralph Moser; costume designer, Paul Warren. Reviewed at Melbourne Film Festival, July 21, 2000. Running time: 87 MIN.

With: With: Paul Moder, Kevin Hopkins, Helen Hopkins, Carolyn Bock, Frank Bren.

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