DVD 100 mins
Suitable for 18 years and over
Hitman [1998]
In Collection

Seen It:
Action, Crime, Foreign, Martial Arts
USA  /  English

Director Wei Tung

Eric the would-be assassin is such a nice, caring fellow that Hitman has an immediate credibility problem: how could Eric (oriental superstar Jet Li in his follow-up to Lethal Weapon 4) ever believe he could be a cold-blooded murderer? The script tries to get around this by emphasising his poverty, and once he meets conman Norman (Hong Kong comedy star Eric Tsang), the film manages to blend amiable humour with amoral characters and polished action into an entertaining whole. A yakusa crime lord has been murdered by the Angel of Death, a professional hitman who only kills those he believes deserve to die. Getting well out of their depth in the hunt for the assassin, Li and Tsang make an appealing double act, while Gigi Leung is charming as Norman's lawyer daughter. With a moderately involved plot and an emphasis on character, action is limited to five well-staged set-pieces which are stylishly conceived, exciting and don't outstay their welcome. The finale even has a joke at the expense of Die Hard's running across broken glass, while the ending sets up the inevitable sequel. A long way from Li's magnificent Once Upon A Time in China (1991), Hitman is efficient, highly watchable Hong Kong entertainment.

On the DVD: The 1.77:1 anamorphically enhanced picture is generally very good, though sometimes slightly grainy. The sound is Dolby Prologic, and far better than many other Hong Kong releases. Even so, the end title notes the film was shown theatrically in Dolby Digital, raising the question as to why the DVD does not also use this system. The film is presented in Cantonese with subtitles, or dubbed in English. Included is a 10-minute interview with Jet Li and a seven-minute interview with Simon Yam (who plays a detective), neither of which are specifically about Hitman. However, a 13-minute interview presented anamorphically enhanced with Keiji Sato (who plays the murdered yakusa's grandson) is specific to the film and ranks as the best extra. A text biography of Jet Li covers many pages and provides an excellent introduction to his career. The "music promo" is Hong Kong Legends' own trailer for Hitman, and is complemented by trailers for five other releases. --Gary S Dalkin

Edition Details
Barcode 5032438503520
Region 2
Release Date 21/08/2000
Subtitles English
Nr of Disks/Tapes 1
Personal Details
Links Amazon UK