Over a year ago I picked one of my favorite Hong Kong films for the latest “Scenes I Love” entry and this time around I pick another one from the same director but from an earlier film. The previous pick was from John Woo’s Hard Boiled and this latest pick is from 1989’s classic The Killer also by John Woo.
This was the film that first introduced me to John Woo and Hong Kong crime thrillers of the late 80’s and early 90’s. It was the mid-90’s and not having seen any of Woo’s previous work I came into watch The Killer with no preconceptions whatsoever. What I saw blew me away. It wasn’t just the ballet-like choreography of this scene which opens up the film, but how the character played by Chow Yun Fat reminded me so much of Alain Delon’s character from Melville’s own Le Samourai. It would be later on when immersing myself in all things John Woo that I found out how much the Hong Kong filmmaker admired Melville and used the Delon’s character of Jeff Costello in Le Samourai as inspiration for Chow Yun Fat’s own character in The Killer (who in some subtitled prints was named Jeff).
While Woo has made better-looking films since The Killer I will always consider this scene my favorite of all the scenes he has ever put to film. It’s bullet ballet at it’s most pure.