Hitman (1998)

Hitman DVD Cover
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out of

Directed by:

Tung Wei


Jet Li Lian JieFu
Eric TsangNor Lu (Crocodile Man)
Simon YamPolice Inspector Kwan
Gigi LeungKiki
Sato KeijiEiji Tsukamoto
Paul RapovskiUnnamed Thug with blinding lights
Ip Kwong KimMartin, I think
Hidari MeikenGeisha/Bodyguard, I think

Written by:

Chan Heung Ka
Vincent Kok
Cheng Kam Fu




Video Signal:


I don't know that world needs another review of Hitman but it is one of my favorite Jet Li movies, probably the first I owned. I remember looking at the four figures on the box and thinking, "OK, I know which one is Jet Li and I can guess which is Gigi Leung but which is Simon Yam and which is Eric Tsang?" Now, I know. The one who is consistently flung is Eric Tsang.

It starts with a horrible old man, Mr. Tsukamoto, reminiscing happily over the atrocities he committed during WW II when he is attacked by a masked man, the Killing Angel. Tsukamoto offers his assailant triple pay and threatens him with his fund for revenge, $100,000,000 US, fifty million to kill Tsukamoto's assassin and fifty million for whoever hired him. The Killing Angel is unmoved and slays Mr. Tsukamoto.

Cut to Fu, the nicest, and least successful, hitman you'd ever want to meet. Brother Dog sends him out to debt collect and he fixes the debtor's pipes. Brother Dog sends him out to kill an old man and instead he lends the man his knife to cut watermelon. Fu just wants enough money to build his mother a house. Brother Dog tells his guys about the $100,000,000 hit and they all want the job but it is for the cream of assassins. Fu goes after it anyway.

The security at Tsukamoto Plaza try to toss Fu out on his ear but he resists and Nor Lu, called the Crocodile Man, arrives. The Crocodile Man has an invite to the meeting and asks Fu to go along with him. At the meeting, which required $5,000,000 earnest money, the Tsukamoto lawyer, Martin, explains what is known about the killer and the rules. Mr Tsukamoto's grandson, Eiji, will also be participating.

After the meeting, Crocodile Man explains to Fu why it is equitable that Fu receive 30% of the fee and he get a 70% cut. He also gives Fu a deposit in the form of new duds so Fu will appear a successful hitman instead of a down at heels one. Fu models a "Mark Gor" ensemble, then a "Leon" outfit before settling on the proper look. Nor is full of "good" advice on how to be an assassin. In fact, Nor, knows nothing about killing but he is afraid he might be fingered as the Killing Angel. As a scam, he accepted money to kill Tsukamoto. His object is to find the true Killing Angel before he himself is killed. He wants Fu's help with this.

I love this movie because of the chemistry and fine acting of the two stars. Fu, a shy, but not stupid, mainlander trying to make it big in cut throat Hong Kong, is tailor made for Li. By the way, this is one of the few HK releases where Li is not dubbed by another actor. Tsang is funny and touching as the conman who has bitten off more than he can chew. In fact, when I'm just skimming through, watching the good bits, many of the scenes I like are just Fu and Nor together, with no kicking involved. There's one where Nor has been identified as the Killing Angel and his vast quantity of pagers are going off with people trying to collect on the fund and he asks Fu to look after his daughter that I like. However, I can't give it five stars because there are a couple of bits that just make my teeth hurt. One in particular, at an ice rink, with Nor's daughter, Kiki, whining about her bad dad did not work for me.


Thumbnail of Fu and Nor

Fu and Nor (~22K)

Thumbnail of villains

The Baddies (~29K)

Thumbnail of the Fu and Nor waiting

Waiting for the other shoe (~26K)

Contract Killer:

Warning: Minor Spoilers!

You know I am a subtitle purist but I had to subject myself to Contract Killer to see how Hitman was murdered.

On to the film... There are some changes that made sense and some that were just wrong. I'm making the assumption that the subtitles are a literal, or close to it, translation of the Cantonese. If it isn't my whole world view will crumble.

HitmanContract KillerReaction
Old man Tsukamoto is introduced reminiscing happily about how much he enjoyed raping the Chinese girls because they screamed in such terror. Tsukamoto is thoroughly established as a bad man.Old man Tsukamoto remembers his glorious days as a battle winning general. He's just some old fogey remembering the good old days.Sad. Why do they want to make Tsukamoto seem less evil?
Fu and his Indian neighbor share their meals. Fu doles out a small fork full of his scrambled eggs but takes his friends only piece of chicken.Cut.Neutral. This scene always made my teeth hurt so I don't really mind that it is gone.
Brother Dog is Fu's agent.Name is changed to Danny.Sad. "Brother Dog" is much more colorful than "Danny".
Brother Dog reams Fu for helping his victims instead of killing them.Danny accuses Fu of being a layabout.Angry. I'd rather watch a movie about a guy who isn't a successful killer because he's too nice than one about a guy who is just lazy!
Fu rides the bus to Tsukamoto Center wearing a blazer borrowed from his Indian friend. The other passengers hold their noses because of the curry smell.Cut.Neutral. Not really missed other than to add to the down at heels image Fu has.
Crocodile Man's rapid fire spiel gets Fu into the big meeting. Addresses security guy as the boss which the security guy denies. Crocodile Man says you will be the boss if ...Content is changed and delivery is fitful. Addresses security guy as the boss which the security guy admits to.Sad. Why change?
Fashion montage with Fu dressing as Chow Yun-Fat from A Better Tomorrow, Jean Reno from Leon, and, I think, Alain Delon from Le Samourai."Alain Delon" is cut.Sad. What? They didn't want Li to look silly? "They" probably cut the cross dressing from Fong Sau Yuk as well.
Fu pigs out at the tea house and hasn't finished eating when Crocodile Man wants to leave. He takes the leftovers with in a couple of very full carrier bags.Cut.Angry.
On the way into the amusement park. Crocodile Man explains the pricing structure and how the right hand is thrown in gratis because the victim will have been using it to defend himself.Cut.Angry.
After the attempted assassination, Fu and Crocodile Man are interrogated by the police in adjoining rooms. As they are asked the same questions, their answers are parallel.Each retains some of his original speeches but the corresponding speech from the other is omitted.Angry.
Crocodile Man and Fu are eating instant noodles and Crocodile Man is giving Fu more instructions on being a killer. Fu demonstrates his shooting technique with a banana.Cut.Angry.
The cops have a computer that matches a picture of the back of the Killing Angel against each employee.Cut.Happy. This was always a bit silly.
Kiki eats ice cream and tells Fu what a bad dad she had.Cut.Happy. Never worked for me.
The scrip is given by the Japanese.The scrip is given to the Japanese.Angry. Jeez, couldn't somebody do a little fact checking!
The scrip note is found in Tsukamoto's stomach.The scrip note is found in Tsukamoto's mouth.Happy. This always bothered me as Tsukamoto was shot dead, dead, dead before the Killing Angel would have been able to insert anything.
Fu and the Crocodile Man arrive at Kiki's party inappropriately dressed. They follow a couple of well dressed gentlemen into the men's WC and emerge wearing their suits.Cut.Sad.
Fu accuses Kwan of being the killer.Kwan accuses Fu of being the killer.Angry. The climax makes more sense if Fu has already established that he thinks Kwan is the killer. Plus, I'm a purist.
Kwan enters through the skylight, all guns blasting.Kwan just appears, all guns blasting.Angry. Why cut any of the action? My only guess is that they somehow used a shot of Kwan's entrance, with Jet Li's head on it for the cover art.
Soundtrack is innocuous.New urban soundtrack, filled with ditties about being a contract killer.Sad. Only one of the main characters is actually a contract killer and he isn't very good at it.
Hitman DVD cover. Gets across the idea it's an action comedy. (See up top for a better picture.)Contract Killer DVD cover. They've cut most of the funny so a new cover is valid. However, this shot never appears in the movie.Sad.


Duh! Watch the original not this hack job unless you enjoy mediocre dubs (Kwan sounds like an attempt at a John Wayne impression) and abrasive music, with all the life sliced out.

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