The Killer (John Woo, 1989) is one of the key films of the Hong Kong New Wave period. It achieved a secure cult status in the West and has exercised great influence on Western and Asian filmmakers. Additionally, the film served as the springboard for the fame of its director and contributed materially to the early attention given to Hong Kong cinema during the 1990s by Western film critics and audiences. Its connection to the chivalric tradition in Chinese and Hong Kong cinema is readily apparent and important, most particularly in its indebtedness to the work of masters such as the late Chang Cheh. The influence of The Killer on subsequent neo-noir films, including “hitman” and gangster films, becomes clearer when the influence of the noir canon on Woo is more fully understood.
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