Fulltime Killer (August 24/02)
Fulltime Killer, the latest violent Chinese import, tries incredibly hard to be the next Hard-Boiled but fails miserably. Where that movie had an incredibly charismatic lead character and a compelling storyline, Fulltime Killer has two indistinguishable central characters and a non-existent plot.
The film revolves around two assassins, Tok and O, both of whom are considered top killers. But O has the edge, as he's been killin' and murderin' longer than Tok, and receives far more work because of this. Tok is bitter about being the number 2 gangster in town, and vows to kill O and take his place. He's unsure of how to get to O, until he discovers that O has a maid. So, Tok conspires to wine and dine the maid, and learn more about O in the process. And all the while, many assassinations and violent interludes are thrown into the mix.
Fulltime Killer's been made by folks who love movies, since a good portion of the flick is spent referencing other, better films. Example: Tok, for some never-explained reason, spends the majority of the first half running around in a Bill Clinton mask. This is clearly a Point Break reference (something another character points out, as if it wasn't obvious enough), but doesn't really seem to serve any purpose other than making the viewer wish they were watching that film instead. There's also a police station shootout "inspired" by The Terminator. I suppose the message here is that violent movies breed violent criminals, which will no doubt thrill proponents of family-friendly fare.
And that's really the problem with Fulltime Killer. Not that it's filled with over-the-top violence, but that there's no real storyline at work here. There's no context for all the violence, which makes this the action equivalent of a porn flick. It certainly doesn't help that neither lead actor manages to create a character worth caring about. By the time everything's said and done, we really couldn't care less which assassin has emerged victorious.
But Fulltime Killer still manages to remain sort of entertaining, mostly due to the wildly creative direction. A good example of this is a shot early on that travels through a tombstone into the ground and winds up inside a coffin containing a dead body. Inventive camerawork like that makes Fulltime Killer at least watchable, mostly, while the shoddy script and poor acting prevents it from becoming anything more than a mildly amusing curiosity.