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Reviewed September 3rd, 2002 by David Nusair


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 nonexistent plot.

The film revolves around two assassins, Tok and O, both of whom are considered the top killers around. But O has the edge, as heís been killiní and murderiní 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. Heís 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 Killerís 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 wasnít obvious enough), but doesnít really seem to serve any purpose other than making me wish I was watching that movie instead. Thereís also a police station shootout, ďinspiredĒ 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 thatís really the problem with Fulltime Killer. Not the fact that itís filled with over-the-top violence, but that thereís no real storyline at work here. Thereís no context for all the violence, which makes this the action equivalent of a porn flick. It certainly doesnít help that neither lead actor manages to create a character worth caring about. By the time everythingís said and done, we really couldnít 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.

Audio: Fulltime Killer comes with both Cantonese and Mandarin soundtracks, available either as DD 5.1 or DTS 5.1. Both are amazing, with spatial sounds running rampant (especially during the many gun battles), but obviously, the DTS track does have the edge. Thereís more depth to the sound, but really, either will do.

Video: The transfer, though, isnít nearly as good. Presented non-anamorphically at a ratio of 1.85:1, the whole thing looks rather washed out. Thereís also a few instances of specks and such, but otherwise, itís watchable.

Extras: For a disc intended for purchase in the North American market, few of these extras are watchable for folks who speak only English. First up is something called Behind the Scenes, which runs around 24 minutes and is raw footage from the set. No English subtitles here, which makes this interesting to watch but impossible to figure out whatís happening. Next is The Making of Fulltime Killer, which runs about 25 minutes and again, is not subtitled or dubbed in English. Finally, there are some stills (20), biographies, and a trailer.

Conclusion: Fulltime Killer, the DVD, isnít really worth buying due mostly to the fact that the extras arenít watchable in English.


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