Fulltime Killer

Remember when everybody was going nuts over Hong Kong action pictures some 10 years ago? Well, they're still cranking them out, even if American film geek faddists have moved on.

Case in point: Fulltime Killer, a wild drama about two dueling hit men - one Chinese (played by tireless Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau), one Japanese (Takashi Sorimachi) - and the difference in their approaches to their job. Lau's killer "Tok" is a grinning madman, copying his lines and his kills from American movies. Sorimachi's killer "O" has a more traditionally Japanese demeanor: cold, somber, reflective.

Of course a girl (Kelly Lin) has to come between them, but as with many Hong Kong action films, it's always left to the audience to wonder whether either man really covets her romantically, or if she is just in the way of their own violent flirtation with each other.

In the meantime, you get some really great action, lots of flying bullets, a serpentine story... all the hallmarks of Hong Kong action cinema, in fact, but with the added depth that comes from a style that has been allowed to mature with time (along with its co-director, the legendary Johnnie To, who has helmed more than 30 feature films over the last 25 years).

It boggles my mind to see how many genuinely interesting and exciting movies are still being cranked out by Hong Kong filmmakers, even several years after the end of their "golden age" of cinema.