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Film / Ballistic Kiss

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It's so quiet and peaceful; but if you really look at each home, each window, and look inside those ordiniary lives, what do we see? Sons stealing from mothers, wives betraying husbands, the rape of children, women being beaten, anger, sickness and despair… we hide it away and call it innocence.

This is the dark heart of mankind...

Ballistic Kiss is a 1998 Hong Kong movie produced, directed by and starring Donnie Yen.

Donnie Yen is Cat, an assassin and hitman who used to be a cop before a betrayal left him imprisoned in New York for 6 years. Returning to Hong Kong, living with no aim in his life except the pleasure of killing evil men every night, the only thing that motivates Cat to live every day is gazing at a mysterious woman who lives in the block next to his and dreaming about her, while dancing to the radio all by himself every night. But when his last assignment leads his past back to haunt him, Cat will shoot his way out.

This film contains examples of:

  • Asshole Victim: Invoked when Carrie questions Cat on his multiple murders he committed in the past. Cat's response?
    Cat: "Everyone I killed deserves to die. Because deep down inside, everyone is guilty."
  • Big Bad: Wesley, the former partner of Cat who betrayed him while they're on assignment in New York years ago.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Cat has killed Wesley and successfully gotten his revenge, but upon realizing he's not destined to be with Carrie, rather than surrendering to the police he decides instead to commit Suicide by Cop.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Cat never seems to run out of bullets for his dual pistols. In the penultimate shootout, Cat dives through a window firing away at Wesley and his mooks, continues firing as he slides across the floor, and keeps firing while scrambling for cover, at which point he seems to have unloaded at least 50 rounds from two pistols without reloading even once.
  • Bulletproof Vest: Cat and Wesley both wear vests in their final confrontation. Wesley reveals his first after Cat shot him.
    Wesley: (rips open his shirt to expose vest) "I've got a vest, so fuck you!"
    Cat: (rips his shirt open to reveal another vest) "I also have a vest, so fuck you too!"
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: Wesley bedding his girlfriend in his bedroom before Mr. Tsoi and his mooks barged in at the wrong time. Wesley ignores them and continues banging her while having a conversation with Mr. Tsoi.
  • Cold Sniper: Cat in one of his assassination scenes, using a sniper rifle from a tall balcony. Subverted that he chose not to fire the shot in the last minute.
  • Dance of Romance: Cat and Carrie, on a rooftop at dawn, the night after surviving the Hitman's assault.
  • Dancing with Myself: Cat in his own apartment, after an assassination. This is before he falls for Carrie and when he's still a lonely assassin, by the way.
  • Darkened Building Shootout: The shootout in a Porno theater. It helps that assassins after Cat and Carrie are holding torchlights trying to locate Cat which they assume are hiding among the seats, while Cat in actuality is spying from a corner waiting to ambush.
  • Elevator Escape: Holland Wah attempts to get away from Cat in an elevator as his bodyguards tries fending off Cat, but unfortunately for him, Cat blocks the elevator's closing doors in the last second.
    Cat: "Leaving so soon? Aren't you going to wait for me?" (kills Holland Wah)
  • Facial Recognition Software: Used to identify the killer at Holland Wah's club. The machine managed to patch up Cat's face, but Carrie just misses it.
  • Fan Disservice: The porno theater shootout. There's something a bit off about seeing a semi-naked woman on the silver screen, boobs hanging out, intersect with people getting shot. More than once there are mooks gets killed with bloody squibs, in front of a screen showing a naked lady taking up most of the background.
  • Finger Gun: A variation in the ending scene; Cat is being led out by Carrie after an intense shootout, but upon seeing the cops gathered outside, he decides to stick his hand inside his coat, prompting the police to open fire on him. Turns out he's actually reaching out for his glasses.
  • Furo Scene: Annie in one of her first scenes in a bubble bath.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: During his first shootout, Cat throws a mook he restrained into another group of mooks, before shooting them all while they're distracted.
  • Guns Akimbo: Cat during his shootouts in the second half of the film, notably how he took down the Hitman.
  • Gratuitous English: Cat and Wesley, in more than one scene, gets to converse with each other in English, to reflect their past while they're on assignment in New York 6 years earlier.
  • Heroic Bloodshed: Follows most examples popular at the time, with Cat as a Hitman with a Heart using Guns Akimbo, loads of Gun Fu during shootouts, a Mexican Stand Off scene, usage of Christian imagery, and a relationship between Star-Crossed Lovers Cat and Carrie which is doomed to end badly before the credits...
  • The Hero Dies: After killing the last of the bad guys, too…
  • Hero Stole My Bike: Cat hijacks a passing car to escape after a hit gone wrong, while pulling his gun on the driver. Unlike most examples though, he did give the driver a wad of cash before driving off.
  • Hitman with a Heart: Cat.
  • Human Shield
    • Cat in his first action scene, while struggling with a thug, pulls said thug by the belt so that bullets meant for him ends up in the thug's back.
    • The black thug using Lily as a shield during the Mexican Standoff scene that ends in a free-for-all shootout.
  • Implacable Man: The hitman sent by Wesley after Cat and Carrie, played by Yu Rong-guang.
  • Improvised Weapon:
    • Cat knocks out a mook in a gym using a set of weights as weapon.
    • Later in the Porno Theater scene, Cat beats up several mooks while Dual Wielding torches like a pair of escrima sticks.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Wesley's final fate, delivered by Cat with a ceiling fan.
  • In Medias Res: The meeting between Cat and Wesley in the office is intersect with a flashback of Wesley betraying Cat in the past back in New York, with both scenes spliced together to make it look like the events are happening concurrently. Even the dialogue in both scenes are repeated, with slight modifications…
    Wesley: (past) "Nice song. Marvin Gaye did that song, didn't he?"
    Cat: (present) "By the way, I never got those tickets to see Marvin Gaye's concert. "
    Wesley: (past) "Its only business…"
    Cat: (past) "It's personal! "
    Wesley: (past) "By the time you get out, I'll be long fucking gone!"
    Cat: (present) "… you'll be dead!"
  • Leap and Fire: Cat, throughout the many shootouts.
  • Meet Cute: Cat and Carrie on the bus when they met for the first time.
  • Mexican Standoff: Between Wesley and his men, against Mr. Tsoi's mobsters. Ending in a free-for-all shootout with both sides firing blindly upon each other. Wesley is one of the few survivors of the shootout scene.
  • Mook Horror Show: Whenever Cat goes into a shootout against mooks, the battle will quickly go into Cat's favor with horrified faceless mooks watching their colleagues getting shot one-by-one before ending up in Cat's kill-count themselves.
  • Precision F-Strike: Characters drops F-bombs for no reasons, in English too, even in the unedited Hong Kong dub. For some reason.
  • Pre Mortem Oneliner: From Cat.
    Cat: "Time to die!" (knocks the blades of a dropped ceiling fan into Wesley, impaling him through his midsection to death)
  • Put Their Heads Together: Happens in Cat's first action scene in the nightclub, while beating up several of Holland Boy's mooks Cat slams two of their temples into one.
  • Railing Kill: A mook in the porno theater gets kicked in the neck by Cat while on a set of railings, causing him to fall sideways to his death.
  • Recurring Extra: The talkshow host who is an Audience Surrogate that shows up in more than one scene, usually only with his voice heard whenever a character in the movie turns on the radio. That character later turns out to be Cat the whole time.
  • Real Dreams are Weirder: Referenced in the opening scene, where Cat confesses to a talk-show host that he still has nightmares about “Santa Claus stalking him with a shotgun”.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Christian imagery like churches and crosses do show up multiple times in the movie, notably the final scene at Cat's grave. Keeping up with the constant theme of Christ symbolism always seen in this type of movies ever since John Woo started the trend.
  • Scary Black Man: A huge, muscular African-American mobster intimidates Wesley during the Mexican Standoff scene, where two of them gets into a close fistfight before drawing guns at each other. The thug is played by Michael Woods, Donnie Yen's longtime friend and frequent collaborator back in the 90s by the way.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: On the bespectacled Cat during the shootout scenes that occurs at night.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: The Hitman's preferred weapon is a shotgun. Averted for Cat, who prefers using pistols throughout the movie.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Rich and Famous is referenced during Cat and Carrie's meeting on the bus.
    • There is a scaled-sized ornament of an alien from Independence Day in Cat's gym.
  • Smoky Gentlemen's Club: The first action scene in the movie is set in Holland Boy's nightclub, frequented by gangsters who smokes throughout their screentime. All 3 minutes of it.
  • Stoic Spectacles: On Cat.
  • Tearful Smile: Carrie flashes a smile through tears after realizing Cat survives his shootout with the Hitman, staggering up the stairs, alive but barely.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill:
    • The huge, imposing Hitman is finally taken down after getting more than 30 rounds pumped into his body by Cat's dual pistols.
    • In their final confrontation, Cat and Wesley fires away at each other, respectively with their dual pistols and machine-gun… only for most of the bullets to end up in an unfortunate mook that happens to be standing in between them. It doesn't help that being desperate to see each other dead, both Cat and Wesley keeps on pulling the trigger, missing each other and soaking up the poor mook's body with more lead than most war movies.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Cat's glasses, which Carrie keeps in the final scene after he dies. In her final moments as she stood before his grave paying her last respects, Carrie puts Cat's glasses on herself before walking away.
  • Water Torture: Cat is subjected to this in a Cold-Blooded Torture scene in his flashback. He gets peed on later after the torture.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Cat and Wesley used to be… until Wesley's betrayal which results in Cat being sentenced to 6 years of prison.
  • Working Out Their Emotions: Cat is shown working out hitting a punching bag after his meeting with Carrie and realizing he might have feelings for her.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Wesley and his mooks who slaps and beats the snot out of Carrie's friend Annie to interrogate her.