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Film / Fulltime Killer

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Fulltime Killer is a 2001 Hong Kong action film directed by Johnnie To, starring Andy Lau, Takashi Sorimachi, Kelly Lin, and Simon Yam. It's a strange action-comedy that plays around with flashbacks and points of view, and almost requires multiple viewings to truly understand.

O is considered the greatest hitman in Asia. Outside of the job, he lives a reclusive existence in an apartment in Hong Kong.

Lok is an eccentric, flamboyant assassin who wants to discover O's identity and claim the top title for himself.

Chin answers an ad on a bulletin board and accepts a job as the cleaner for O's flat. Lok soon insinuates himself into her life in what's half a courtship, half an attempt to figure out who O is and how best to kill him. It turns into a bizarre love triangle between Chin, O, and Lok, with none of the three quite sure of the others' motivations.

Finally, there's Albert Lee, an Interpol detective who's out to arrest both O and Lok, and who ends up writing a book about the case.

Tropes found in this Film include:

  • Actor Allusion: This isn't Andy Lau's first professional hitman film.
  • Anachronic Order: The early part of the film has a bad habit of not labeling its flashbacks very well at all.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Lok's epilepsy.
  • Contract on the Hitman: The film apes the film Assassins, in that the wild hitman Tok has modeled himself after action films and intentionally imitates the Stallone film in his rivalry with number one assassin O.
  • Friendly Enemy: Despite the fact that he's out to kill him, Lok actually likes O a great deal and they're downright chummy by the end of the film.
  • Hitman with a Heart: O's style is slow and deliberate, and between hits, he's reclusive and downright shy.
  • Nixon Mask: Lok wears one of these when assassinating a target from up-close.
  • Shout-Out: The final showdown between O and Lok takes place in an isolated warehouse full of hidden weapons that Lok compares to Metal Slug. Both of them turn out to be huge fans of the game and run into the encounter with big smiles on their faces.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Lok ambushes an Interpol strike team near the end of the movie with a Barrett M82 anti-materiel rifle. A graze wound from it is enough to put Lee's partner into intensive care, and it's heavily implied she did not survive.
  • Twist Ending: The last third of the film takes a weird turn for the bathetic, as we follow an alcoholic Lee as he tries to write a book about the case. Chin's version of the final showdown between O and Lok involves a shootout in a warehouse that stored fireworks, and O is shot dead after being flash-blinded by an accidental explosion. After she leaves, Lee realizes that Lok's epileptic, so in her version, he would've been driven into a grand mal seizure by the fireworks display. This means the entire thing is something Chin made up to make Lee think that O is dead and Lok is alive.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The movie following O and Chin's escape from Interpol is a version of events told to Lee by Chin, as Lee attempts to write a memoir on the case. It's only after she's left that Lee realizes that it's probably not an accurate retelling.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Lok admits to basing his rivalry with O on the film Assassins.