Reviewed by: ororama
Summary: Contains spoilers
Coolie Killer opens with a bang with a contract killing in Japan by a member of a gang of Hong Kong killers for hire. After a meeting in Hong Kong to discuss the future direction of their business and critique the hit, the members of the gang are simultaneously targeted for killing. Their leader, Ko (Charlie Chin), survives the attack and seeks to find out who ordered the killings and why before he is eliminated by the unknown killers or arrested by the police.
The movie offers the mystery of who is double-crossing who, which is somewhat undercut by the lack of attention given to introducing and differentiating the characters, but that is more than compensated for by numerous well staged action scenes. Ko takes a break from hunting and killing for romance with a young woman (Cecilia Yip) whose family he has a long term relationship with, but she is presented as a weakness that he cannot afford, and the movie probably could have done without this interlude.
Coolie Killer is an exciting early example of the gangster movies that became an important part of the Hong Kong film scene in the 1980s, offering a basic plot of gangsters betraying their partners for a bigger slice of the profits and creative staging of the action scenes, a model for movies to come in the genre and an impressive directing debut for Terry Tong.
Reviewed by: MrBooth
Summary: Dark, violent landmark action movie
COOLIE KILLER - the film that John Woo would spend the next 10 years trying to make? (err, and succeeding). A dark and violent tale of a professional killer who becomes "the hunted". It took a while to adjust to Charlie Chin playing a hard-boiled killer, since the only things I've seen him in before are the "lucky stars" family of films, but once I adjusted he did a pretty good job of it. The film comes across a little like Sonny Chiba's STREETFIGHTER, but is more coherent. The plot is a little bit OTT, but this can be forgiven for when it was made (1983). The cinematography is excellent and creative throughout, and the action scenes were well ahead of their time. There are scenes that John Woo could be accused of copying in ABT, THE KILLER and HARD BOILED. John Woo does them better, but Terry Tong was there first, and for quantity and creativity I think it's a landmark. The film is very violent - some of the brutality is almost unnecessary, but feels more at home in the film than in KISS OF THE DRAGON for instance. Definitely a HK landmark, but I couldn't help thinking that there are probably a lot of Japanese Yakuza films that are similar but that I haven't seen. Overall it's an excellent film and definitely recommended, thought the Mei Ah DVD almost ruins the experience. The grainy transfer isn't too bad, kind of fits the film in fact, but the subtitles are abysmal. There's hardly a single line in the whole film that makes grammatic sense, and there are several exchanges where you know something important was just said but the subtitles meant nothing. There isn't likely to be a better presentation any time soon though.