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殺殺人、跳跳舞 (1998)
Ballistic Kiss

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 10/16/2012
Summary: Stylish but cliched and pretentious

Donnie Yen plays a killer for hire, but starting to feel jaded and doubtful of his career... and basically rather lonely. He agrees to take on one last job, and gets the opportunity to take revenge on on the partner who set him up years earlier... but mishaps arise and he finds himself on the run.

BALLISTIC KISS is much maligned amongst the Hong Kong Cinema fan community, but I really enjoyed it when I first saw it. The cinematography and editing is very stylised, with lots of saturated lighting, novel camera placement and processing effects (reminiscent of Wong Kar-Wai's FALLEN ANGELS, for instance). Gunplay scenes seemed unusually graceful whilst still excellently over-the-top, and lightning fast in the hand to hand fights. The script (from Bey Logan) seemed unusually intelligent and adult, and Donnie Yen was just cool as hell.

Watching it again a few years later, this translated to a cliched plot, pretentious indulgence, a manic ego and ridiculous abuse of undercranking. A question of perspective, I guess :-)

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: Beat TG
Date: 10/27/2008
Summary: Donnie Yen's work of art

This wonderful but very criticized and underrated piece is strong proof of Donnie Yen's artistic creativity as a filmmaker. Whether or not one's getting distracted by the action (which isn't in huge quantity and involves very few fights) doesn't really matter at this point because it only comes with the story. Every single scene is shot beautifully, has a meaning and is part of a completeness that is driven by its storytelling style that either fascinates or irritates you: artsy visuals.

Flaws are unfortunately present throughout the movie (the character interactions and some action scenes could be polished) and oddity of the story can be wondered, but if your mind is wide open you're in for an weird but very rewarding experience. It's more than just an action drama, it's more than story development and character interactions; it's the overall film-making, the storytelling that's evident and mattered most.

Overall I think that one has to wonder what more Donnie can offer in terms of film language when (or if) he will direct again, because he REALLY did a great job with setting up everything and make the result work wonders.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 03/10/2007

Early in “Ballistic Kiss” Annie Wu’s roommate asks her “Why do you listen to this trash?” referring to a talk show. When written and shot it was little more than a throwaway line, emphasizing that the police inspector played by Wu was intrigued with the character Cat who calls the talk show every night. But when the movie was put together and screened as a whole it must have occurred to someone that even after only a few minutes the audience might be asking the same question—why were they watching this, if not trash certainly an ineptly made film.

The script for “Ballistic Kill could have been constructed by following a checklist for recent cop/assassin movies: Beautiful police officer and hired killer become obsessed with each other from afar; assassin decides it is time to hang up his Glock with the ninety shot magazine and retire on the millions he has earned; the assassin is a hyper-efficient automaton who always completes his mission but is stunted emotionally; the police officer is sexually alluring or at least very attractive; when finally meet while dodging lead (earlier chance connections don’t count) their sexual attraction is more powerful than the bullets aimed at them...etc. etc. Which is not to say the Bey Logan stole his paycheck while cobbling together this list of clichés he might have ordered from Acme Script Builders, only that there isn’t anything particularly creative original about it.

Originality isn’t necessary for cinematic success--Kwan Tak-Hing starred in a series of 99 films as Wong Fei-Hong, films that remain influential on martial arts movies. A script doesn’t have to be creative to be effective—in many genres the plot exists only to fill time between and to introduce the next musical number, gunfight, slasher appearance or werewolf transformation. However if a director wants to transcend genre filmmaking he shouldn’t chose a script that is bolted together with leftover boilerplate. Since Donnie Yen was involved in every aspect of this movie as producer, director and star he is ultimately responsible for almost everything about it. It begins with the script.

The cinematography is self-indulgent and boring. Many scenes are shot in slow motion—very S-L-O-W motion that makes no sense in context. Donnie Yen walks through the streets to a gangster’s lair very slowly. Even the glass elevator with Donnie looking pensively at the city below is slow. Things slow to a snail’s pace when he walks into the combination headquarters and orgy room where his target resides. He then mesmerizes the entire crew—the hookers, the bodyguards, the triad underlings—by suddenly moving like Leonard Bernstein conducting Mahler while on methamphetamine. Then he shoots everyone.

The lighting alternates between bathing the actors in a sickly green or a sickly blue to the extent that plain old Technicolor is a welcome change. There a lot of flashy cuts, a lot of odd camera angles—not odd in the sense of unusual or creative but odd in the sense of “what the hell is he doing that for?” The scene of a roomful of police officers discussing Cat’s most recent hit looks and sounds like too many other cop movies and television shows, with the camera constantly moving, quick cuts away from someone while he is still speaking, lines overlapping each other.

Predictably enough Cat falls for Carrie the beautiful police officer who is leading the investigation regarding who is killing off all the Triad leaders in Hong Kong. She lives across the street from him and spends enough time with her blinds open or on the balcony in her silk pajamas that he is able to get an eyeful. It is impossible to tell whether the attraction would have been quite as strong if she had been a certified public accountant or a software sales rep but probably not. It seems to be a rarely broken rule that hired killers fall for cops and cops fall for hired killers.

There is some psychobabble through which to wade. Cat kills people because his father used to beat him regularly even though he misses the old man. He thinks that beneath the thin veneer of civilization the world is full of murders, thieves and rapists—so, apparently, killing for hire isn’t so bad after all. Carrie the cop seems to agree with him at least after he kidnaps her at gunpoint.

One image that occurs so often that a viewer might think it was product placement is one in which a bad guy uses the body of a comrade or innocent bystander while under fire. Even the head of the police unit sent to arrest Cat tells some of his men to jump in front of him when the shooting starts. It doesn’t seem to mean anything—or if it does it escapes me—so that these particular bullet riddled corpses may be just for shock value. But something that happens so regularly ceases to shock.

The low point of the movie is reached when Cat, while meeting with his agent/controller wonders aloud just what his career is all about and if he has accomplished anything. While contract killers may be as subject to mid-life crises and existential angst as anyone else, it seems that if a career of killing people isn’t its own justification the killer wouldn’t last for long. This is directorial self-indulgence at its worst.

“Ballistic Kiss” is almost redeemed by the power and creativity of its action scenes. Putting a gun in Donnie Yen’s hands is less interesting than having him beat his adversaries to death but he still carries things off very convincingly. There are only a couple of hand to hand combat scenes—one in which a gang thought they had cornered him on a rooftop only to get kicked, pummeled and clubbed into submission. Yen is an enormously talented cinematic fighter.

The gunfight between him and Yu Rong-Guong is a masterpiece. It is simple—Cat has his pistols, the other guy has several guns including a shotgun with an inexhaustible supply of ammunition. It takes place in a small room that gets smaller—the two of them are firing at each other from behind pieces of furniture that each uses as a moving shield to get closer to the other. They also use mirrors, table tops, chairs and other furnishings attempting to distract each other or to gain a clear shot. When they as close as they can get they wind up changing sides in a smooth, violent and very credible set of moves. Cat is able to escape from this claustrophobic killing space far enough to get to a suitcase full of weapons which he has trouble opening. Yu Rong-Guong advances slowly and seemingly inexorably, shotgun leading the way, until Cat gets the case open and the confrontation ends as it must. This was a riveting piece of work by all involved and as suspenseful, brutal and ultimately satisfying as any gun battle I have seen on film.

Five points for action, none for anything else

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 04/10/2006

Am I the only one who liked Ballistic Kiss? It has a different 'style' for sure. I liked both of Donnie Yen's films from 1998 [Shanghai Affairs is the other]. As a director, he sure is making interesting choices, such as using cinematographer- director Ally Wong Ka-Fai to shoot his movie. This film suffers from a poorly developed screenplay.

In Ballistic Kiss, I enjoyed the gun-fu performance of Yu Rong-Guang as the bad guy. The gunfights throughout the film are loud and furious! Look for Simon Lui Yu-Yeung and Vincent Kok Tak-Chiu in interesting supporting roles.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/18/2003

Donnie Yen plays Cat, a man who spends his days talking with a radio DJ and admiring the cute cop who lives across the street (Wu) and his nights making money as an assassin. He agrees to take one last job so he can retire. The job is to take out a producer, whose bodyguard turns out to be Cat's former NYPD partner Wesley (Wong), who framed Cat and sent him to jail before coming to Hong Kong. Cat sets out to kill Wesley, but Wu gets in the way, so Cat kidnaps her. You probably know the rest -- Cat and Wu fall in love as both the cops and Wesley close in.

Ballistic Kiss certainly has its share of detractors; one of the nicknames for this movie in the newsgroups is "Ballistic Shit." However, it also has its share of supporters. The books Planet Hong Kong and City on Fire note it as one of the best post-handover action movies (City on Fire goes so far as to say that it "revives the Hong Kong action movie"). I would supsect Hong Kong Action Cinema author Bey Logan would also rave about the movie, but that's probably because he helped write the story and is a good friend of Yen's. Anyway, expecting the worst but hoping for the best, I dove into this movie and I find myself in neither camp. Ballistic Kiss has some inventive moments, but is ultimately let down by a weak script and some over-indulgence on Yen's part, both as star and director.

The bad bits? I've already mentioned the script, which just has really weak character motivation. It uses the age-old device of the hostage falling for her captor, even though there is no reason for her to do so. One of Cat's first lines to Wu is "Don't move, or I will break all your limbs" and later he tells her (while she is tied up) that he watches her very night before he goes to bed. Gee, what a smoothie. A sadist and a stalker -- no wonder she falls for him! The script also overuses profanity. I'm not against profanity in movies -- films like Reservoir Dogs and Goodfellas put it to some very creative uses -- but when every other word in a movie is the "f-bomb" just for the sake of putting in there (or so it seems), it gets old really quick.

The other major problem in Ballistic Kiss is the cast. Besides Yen, the leads are just plain horrible. Annie Wu (whose only other notable role was as one of Jackie Chan's ditzy sidekicks in First Strike) in particular, is the worst offender of the lot. Wesley tells her early on "you don't look like a cop," and I couldn't agree more. I can see why Cat would develop a thing for her -- she's plenty cute -- but she displays no toughness at all, and as such, is totally unbelievable as a cop. James Wong isn't great either. You must have a good actor to play the villain in any action movie, and Wong doesn’t fit the bill. He uses the standard half-Cantonese/half-English for HK film newcomers and delivers both horribly. Watching this guy try to drop street slang in order to look tough is painful.

The good bits come with the action sequences, at least some of them. Donnie Yen is one of the best martial artists in Hong Kong movies, and he puts his talents to good use here. There is one implausible shootout in the film, where literally thousands of rounds are fired at close range to Cat, but he gets hit only once. In the arm. Barely. I know it's an unwritten rule that bad guys in action movies are supposed to be lousy shots, but this is ridiculous. But other than that scene, the rest of the action stuff is pretty good (though a bit overcranked) and stylishly violent. Yen also creates an interesting character. Despite the flaws in Ballistic Kiss, I was intrigued by the character of Cat. I wish Yen had taken a Ghost Dog approach to this film, and distanced Cat even further from humanity. This would make more sense given his views on the subject ("there is no innocence") and create a more unique film experience, rather than the same old heroic bloodshed with a few new tricks we have here.

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 02/21/2003
Summary: not a

At first I thought this movie sucked, but as I continued, I found it interesting.

If you are looking for something different, Ballistic Kiss may be worthy of consideration. The action scenes are terribly edited, but this is a movie that breaks away from the cliches of HK cinema.

Perhaps it's because [I haven't the slightest clue what the movie is about after watching it in its entirety] that I think Ballistic Kiss is a good effort.


Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: Kyashan
Date: 06/04/2002
Summary: Mmm...

I don't liked this movie. Really i don't like it. Too action, too shoots, too bad...
If you like shoot movies, meybe you could like BK, but I think no if you want see just for one actor.

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 02/05/2002
Summary: As everyone else said.

Well, I won't add anything else to the other reviews, as they all say the same thing. I just want to say that I agree with them, and REALLY struggled to sit through til the end!

Rating: 1/5

Reviewer Score: 2

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 10/17/2001
Summary: i agree with mehaul

i am a donnie yen fan but what did he do to this movie? I heard they had budget cuts but i don't think that would of helped anyway. I found it boring and the action was average. You just don't care about Donnie Yen's character, especially because his character seems to keep changing from cool anti hero to a guy with problems!! What a shame!!


Reviewed by: mehaul
Date: 07/04/2001

Terrible action choreography and overdramatic score. I have never seen so many guns blazing and no one being shot. Occasionally the two lead actors are shot and the appear in the next screen with a bandage, but full use of their affected appendage. I also have never seen the so many lead characters using bulletproof vests. Watching Annie Wu was the only redeeming quality of the entire film. 3/10

Reviewed by: runo_jp
Date: 06/12/2001
Summary: ballistic kiss a.k.a. Cool (Japan)

Donnie Yuen has a huge ego, and this film shows! Of course, it’s his movie, and he is the captain. Well, sorry Donnie, but you did not add anything new to the HK action genre! Still, this is an enjoyable movie, therefore I will forget the flaws, and watch it again on the occasion.
Bonus : here in Japan, the one-sheet teaser of this movie is a scream : titled “Cool” for the Japanese market : it is a fac-simile of an American comic cover.

Reviewed by: magic-8
Date: 05/19/2001
Summary: Self Indulgent Pap

Somewhere along the filmmaking road to Hong Kong cinema stardom, Donnie Yen lost his way. Although he had the help of Yuen Woo Ping and some talent, Donnie never seemed to reach his potential. He looked like a rising star after "Tiger Cage II", "In the Line of Duty IV," and "Once Upon A Time in China 2," but he abandoned those who know what HK action movie making is all about in order to go off and do it himself. (Maybe Yen should stick with sequels.) "Ballistic Kiss" is what we get.

"Ballistic Kiss" falls somewhere in between Yen's earlier dross like "High Voltage" and the more entertaining "Satan Returns." Unfortunately, "Ballistic Kiss" is so self-indulgent that Yen's ego gets in the way of good filmmaking. We must agonize over the movie's attempt to be a stylized thriller, which uses Wong Kar Wai's "Fallen Angels" as a model. In Wong's film, we get an artistic rendering of assassins with syle, while "Ballistic Kiss" is a vanity project full of Donnie preening in front of the camera. Sure Yen produces, stars and directs the film, but he is no Orson Welles. Donnie's own work is marginal, at best, lacking the vocabulary of HK action cinema. His choreography is fine, but his lens work is totally cut-rate, relying on poor editing and having the camera in too tight, not allowing the action to be properly viewed. The result is having flailing arms and legs. He didn't learn much from working with Yuen Woo Ping and the continuity necessary for dynamic action choreography. Some of the action is adequate, but waiting between action scenes is like watching paint dry.

The only thing that helps "Ballistic Kiss" from being a truly fetid work is the finale where Donnie must square off against Yu Rong Guang. Yu Rong Guang saves the film with his screen presence and ability to distract the viewer from focusing on Yen. Yen is in almost every scene with little or no dialogue, which is much too long. There is a scene where Donnie dances by himself. This goes on interminably and could easily have been edited out for the sake of the film's pacing, but without all of Yen's prancing around, "Ballistic Kiss" would only be about half an hour long. I tried watching this film again, but I knew better this time around and had my finger on the fast-foward button for most of the movie.

Reviewer Score: 3

Reviewed by: OC_Gwailo
Date: 03/16/2001

Welcome to Donnie Yen's world--a magical land of bulletproof furniture and obnoxiously stylish computer interfaces, where fluorescent tubes kill and bullet wounds can be fixed with a simple application of gauze. Having read an interview with Yen about "Ballistic Kiss," I was really looking forward to seeing a fresh take on the HK action genre. Boy, was I disappointed--not so much by what it is, but by what it could have been. "BK" is a hella-stylish movie that suffers from having been made in Hong Kong. By Donnie Yen.

With some American cinema sensibility and someone to reign in Yen's ego, "BK" might have been something special. Unfortunately, it goes from promising to putrid. By the end of the movie you just want to strangle Yen for all the wanton nonsense he puts onscreen. Any and all logic goes right out the window: Bullets don't kill but tiny shards of broken glass do; characters move around because that's what Yen wants, not because the movement makes sense. (Says Yen: "There's always something happening in the frame." He might want to take a cue from Wong Kar Wai.) In fact, very little in this movie makes sense, starting with a shootout featuring tactics so stupid they haven't been seen since the (United States') Revolutionary War: 20 guys face off across a small room and start blasting away. And what's with the sped-up action? Maybe it was meant to contrast with the slo-mo stuff, but it comes off looking cartoonish--and not in a good way. Yen’s impressive speed could have been enhanced by editing, instead of making his scenes look like Sammo Hung-directed Jackie Chan outtakes. And don't even get me started on the fluorescent tube coup-de-grace.

The original script by Bey Logan might have been pure poetry (which I seriously doubt, judging from lines like “Get ready to die, loco!”), but you'd never know it from reading the English subtitles. Not only does the translated dialogue come off banal and trite, it manages to completely eliminate any drama or tension the scenes might have had. Not that Yen needs any help to defuse the tension. In an early scene, Annie Wu stands up in the briefing room and offers her analysis of assassin Cat's (Yen) psyche. Having just proved her dedication, intelligence, and guts, she smiles cutely at the superintendent, instantly and completely deflating the drama. It's rookie mistakes like this that make "BK" look like just another low-budget HK actioner.

Of course there’s the obligatory Portland Street scene. Seems like you can't swing a dead cat on Portland Street without running into a film crew. The difference in "BK" is that you get to see it in the daytime (but the 7-Eleven is conspicuously absent). And talk about your onlookers--in one scene, there must be a couple hundred people standing on the sidewalk watching Donnie Yen run by (see also "Deadly Illusion").

Halfway through the movie Yu Rong Guang shows up as a replacement killer with a two-word vocabulary (subtitled as "bastard" and "motherf*cker") and a magic Colt Python that fires 30-40 rounds from a 6-round cylinder. Which is only marginally worse than a Beretta 92 that fires 50+ rounds from a 15-round magazine. Look, John Woo made the bottomless gun work somehow, but Yen's effort comes off like a parody--especially when two guys in a 10x10 room hide behind stuffed chairs and blaze away at each other for what seems like ten minutes. It's silly and it's irritating. What was so cool about the big gun battle in "Heat" was watching Val Kilmer reload every so often.

Stylistically, Yen not only borrows from "Leon: The Professional," he outright steals from "Desperado" and "The Killer." And since Robert Rodriguez has borrowed heavily from John Woo, it's a sort of cinematic inbreeding: not smart, and not pretty. Cinematography by Wong Kai Fai is notable throughout, although the swooping moves become overbearing at times. For godsake, man, stop moving the camera for five seconds! The music is appropriately moody overall, but gets suddenly melodramatic and typically Asian in the fight scenes.

Re-viewability? Almost none--if you don't count Annie Wu's tank top and short pants. I wanted to like it--I really tried--but overall, "Ballistic Kiss" is furious, loud, illogical, stupid, and numbing. You can't say much worse about an action movie. Good thing the DVD only cost 8 bucks.

Reviewed by: Ash
Date: 02/18/2000
Summary: Pretty good Donnie Yen movie!

Since Legend of The Wolf, Donnie has became a great director/actor/writer/. His last movie, Ballistic Kiss is good when it comes to atmosphere and features some exciting gunfights as well as a love story. But it is still laughable to see Donnie looking cool wearing sunglasses at night with his strand haircut! Definitely worth watching. Not Donnie's best but.... 7,8/10