Action and violence were hallmarks of 80’s cinema; the sweepingly realistic tone of the 1970’s gave way to the over the top action narratives of the 80’s, which in turn led to the increasingly violent tones of the late 80’s and early 90’s. Elaborately staged shootouts, the ‘one man army’ phenomenon, astronomical body counts dripping with gore, and the gritty cop theme were all huge theatrical elements that gained remarkable popularity. Hollywood films were flush with action pictures, but Hong Kong had its own thriving film industry, and its own cache of stars. John Woo led the pack of filmmakers, producing such masterpieces as Hard Boiled, and A Better Tomorrow, and Chow Yun-Fat, seemingly born with two guns in his hands, was his preferred leading man.
The Killer is the story of Triad hit man Ah Jong (elegantly played by Chow Yun-Fat), who accidentally blinds a singer during his final hit; afterward, he frequents the club where she performs, and they slowly develop a friendship. He eventually accepts one final job in order to cover the cost of a corneal transplant to save her eyesight. The film is riddled with thrilling car chases, brutal games of cat and mouse, ambushes, spectacularly bloody shoot outs, and the mutual respect earned by the detective that is on Ah Jong’s trail.