Film Buff Movie of the Month: The Killer (1989)

by HELEN GEIB

Short posts on my film club’s “movie of the month” series.

When I decided on “connections” for the series theme this year, the first title to come to mind was John Woo’s The Killer (1989). The only question was whether to pair it with a movie that influenced it or one that was influenced by it. I’d be hard pressed to come up with a better film to illustrate cinematic connections.

Of course, there are innumerable possible connections between movies. There’s the direct type: remakes and sequels. There are the “families” of multiple adaptations of the same novel or what-have-you. Films can be connected by topic or genre, substance or style. In the most literal sense, every filmmaker’s filmography is a unique list of connected titles.

Whether the connection is meaningful is another question. The most interesting connections to my mind are the ones that illustrate the continuities in film history; especially the startling, unexpected ones. The Killer was the first movie I thought of for the series because you could write a book* about its place in film history.

Woo is best known in the West as a director of crime and action films, and his significance as a trendsetter is most apparent in those genres. Johnnie To, Quentin Tarantino, Luc Besson, and Robert Rodriguez count among the most prominent- and influential in their turn- directors who were strongly influenced by Woo’s visual style and storytelling. His own influences are as international, and far wider-ranging in genre. The Killer is a singular synthesis of Hollywood westerns and musicals, Japanese samurai films, French New Wave thrillers, and Hong Kong wuxia films.

*I haven’t read it myself, but from the summary it sounds like this might be that book.

**********

Indy Film Buffs Movie of the Month Series for 2011

January: The Big Lebowski (1998)
February: Footlight Parade (1933)
March: The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005)
April: Double Indemnity (1944)
May: The Killer (1989)
June: The Wild Bunch (1969)
July: Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
August: Far From Heaven (2002)
September: All That Heaven Allows (1955)
October: Eastern Promises (2007)
November: The Roaring Twenties (1939)

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