A fairly preposterous story--about a sentimental assassin and his innocent ladylove caught up in the duplicitous machinations of the Chinese triads and Japanese yakuza in London--makes for a surprisingly entertaining action film with standout action sequences. This 1989 feature made its
offical debut in the US on home video in 1997.
The leader of the Japanese mob in London has been murdered. His adopted son Jeffrey (Simon Yam) kills the rival Chinese bosses responsible, accidentally crossing paths with a female student from Hong Kong (Joey Wang), who snaps a picture of one of his hits. She and Jeffrey fall instantly in love,
and she refuses to tell the cops anything about him; later, when her home is attacked by mobsters looking for Jeffrey, he rescues her. It seems Jeffrey's been set up--his father was actually killed by a member of his own gang, Yoshikawa (Yasuyoshi Shikamura); the murderer wanted to expand into
drug dealing and Jeffrey's father was against it. After the Chinese gang futilely assaults the ranch where Jeffrey is hiding the girl, he retaliates by attacking their headquarters and killing everyone in sight, only to discover that the girl has been taken captive by Yoshikawa. Battling his way
through Yoshikawa's henchmen, Jeffrey ultimately faces the traitor one-on-one, killing him but losing an arm in the process.
Director Philip Ko and his Regent Films production company are infamous for cranking out schlocky, shoddy genre mishmoshes; KILLER'S ROMANCE thankfully stands out from their usual product. Script deficiencies continually struggle to drag the tale down (three consecutive coincidental meetings
between Jeffrey and the girl in different parts of London are a bit much, and there's never the slightest reason given why she would want to protect him from the police--in fact she calmly mentions when he shows up in her bedroom that she knows he's come to kill her), while the budget requires
that both car chases somehow end up in crashes along the same stretch of abandoned runway with the same derelict vehicles on either side. But the direction is curiously assured, keeping the mood somber and building neatly to the multiple climactic bursts of violence.
A nice subplot has Jeffrey's female cohort from the gang (who's apparently enamored of him, although it's never made explicit) disobeying her orders and protecting instead of killing him; in exchange Jeffrey promises not to hurt her brother, a gang wannabe. But after a bloody assault has left sis
dying and her brother about to slaughter Jeffrey as he walks away without defending himself, sis puts a bullet in her brother's brain. The story was loosely based on the Japanese cartoon Crying Freeman--also the inspiration for the wildly divergent Hong Kong film THE DRAGON FROM RUSSIA (1990),
along others. This source material apparently led the uncredited screenwriter(s) to attempt injections of irony and symbolism (Joey Wang's character, a dancer for charity[?], is crippled with bullets to the knees; her teddy bear topples in slow motion when she is wounded during a shootout).
The film is mostly notable for giving Simon Yam a choice, meaty role to sink his teeth into; he delivers an understated yet charismatic performance. In perhaps his greatest fighting role, he acquits himself admirably in the close-ups, although he's doubled extensively (and obviously) in the
punishment shots. (Graphic violence, extreme profanity.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1989
- Rating: NR
- Review: A fairly preposterous story--about a sentimental assassin and his innocent ladylove caught up in the duplicitous machinations of the Chinese triads and Japanese yakuza in London--makes for a surprisingly entertaining action film with standout action sequen… (more)