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John Woo’s The Killer

A classic tale of loyalty and bloody betrayal, John Woo’s The Killer (1989) was centrally important to the growth of Hong Kong cinema in the 1980s and 1990s. It helped launch the international stardom of Woo and lead actor Chow Yun-fat, who plays a disllusioned hitman taking his fatal final assignment to help a lounge singer he accidentally blinded. Illustrating the film’s place in the chivalric tradition of Chinese and Hong Kong cinema, where cops and noble villains sometimes join forces in defense of traditional virtues and personal honor, Kenneth Hall documents the strong influence of Woo’s mentor Chang Cheh as well as Jean-Pierre Melville and other film noir pioneers. Hall also analyzes the film’s influence on other directors, including Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino.

140 pages | 16 b&w illus. | 5.5 x 7.5

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