Is anyone else out there getting tired of the whole slo-mo, double-pistoled, ballistic-pyrotechnic Hong Kong action aesthetic? If not, by all means race all the other HK geeks and be the first to see “Fulltime Killer.” It’s packed with plenty of the above, plus the usual blather about honor and loyalty and friendship that’s been John Woo’s stock in trade for twenty years now (though at least this one spares us those pesky white doves). The rest of us can be forgiven for feeling we’ve seen it all before. This blast-happy stuff is starting to seem as generically familiar as Cowboys-and-Indians fodder must have been for moviegoers in the late ‘50s.
In this iteration, the plot has to do with a reclusive, veteran super-assassin named Ono (Andy Lau) and the brash young hit man named Tok (Takashi Sorimachi) who wants to take his place. In between the two comes the cutest chick in all of…wherever the film takes place, named Chin (Kelly Lin). The plot is too unwieldy to get into, but the assassins’ motto is repeated at least three times for maximum clarity: “In this business, you’re bound to rub out someone you know.”
As we ricochet from Kuala Lumpur to Tokyo to Singapore, boatloads of faceless criminals in slick suits are rubbed out in gimmicky, CGI-aided fashion. Tok’s posing, preening antics in a Bill Clinton mask do goose a few of these sequences, but on the whole this is pretty standard shoot-‘em-up fare. Bang, crash, boom – yawn.