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Contract Killer (aka Hitman)

China (1998), 103 minutes
Starring: Jet Li, Eric Tsang, Simon Yam and Gigi Leung
Reviewer: Val Frost
Genre: Action
Rating: 3.5


In Contract Killer (also known as Hitman), an old Japanese underworld kingpin is assassinated and one of the provisions in his will is a hundred million dollar reward to catch his killer. Fu (Li) is a poor student at some boy’s assassin school (go figure) and hears about the outrageously large monetary offer.

Deciding that he wants the job, Fu (who isn’t given much respect) has trouble getting his foot in the door until he runs into Lo (Tsang), a conman who helps him get into the meeting of assassins. They, along with several other wanna-be killers, are given instructions by Martin, the dead kingpin’s executor, and who has ridiculous girly-man hair. Also at the meeting is the grandson of the dead man and boy is he pissed!

All right, so the game is on. In order to get the reward, the assassins have to not only find the killer but also find out who hired him. In the meantime, HK detective Kwan (the suave Yam) is monitoring the various assassins’ moves – including Lo and Fu – and trying to figure out who the original killer is himself.

Add to the mix Lo’s daughter Kiki (Leung) who really has nothing to do but look cute, scold her father and get Fu all worked up.

I enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would, despite the plot holes and Tsang’s annoying character. The story, in general, made sense and followed through and the characters (again with the exception of Lo) were believable. There was even an enjoyable twist at the end that, perhaps, other viewers will catch but surprised me.

My one main problem, as stated above, is with Lo. He is an important character but, played for laughs as he is, doesn’t work within the constructs of this particular crime thriller (imagine if Jerry Lewis played the Jean Reno role in Ronin and you have the general idea). Plus there is some unnecessary early sap-character-development (again involving Lo) that only slows the film down. Other than these problems, the action is decent if not totally *wow* and the movie as a whole was an enjoyable experience. Check it out.