Year of release: 1998

Company: B & S Films

Genre: crime

Running time: 95 min.

Director: Takkie Yeung

Script: Takkie Yueng

Action director: Ho Chau Choi

Producer: Takkie Yeung

Cinematography: Billy Chui

Editor: Nan Hoi

Music: Sam Leung, Danny Leung

Stars: Wayne Lai, Eddy Ko Hung, Rain Lau, Mak Cheung Ching

Rated IIB for violence

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A Killer's Expiry Date

A Killer's Expiry Date

Over the past few years, the trend for crime movies in Hong Kong has been to move away from the superhuman antics of films like The Killer and to present a more realistic and "human" side. This was done partly because the well had pretty much run dry -- one can only see so many gangster revenge stories before they start to lose their luster, no matter how high the body count may be. On the other hand, one can only see so many stories of gangsters wanting to find redemption before they also begin to lose their luster, and A Killer's Expiry Date is a prime example of this.

The film tells the story of a hitman (Wayne Lai) who wants to retire, so he can provide a safe life for his wife (Rain Lau) and their soon-to-be-born baby. He also wants to go legit so that he can convince his dying boss (Eddy Ko Hung) to give up the gangster lifestyle. However, Lai finds getting work in post-Handover Hong Kong tough, and decides to take one last job. The job seems simple enough -- killing three seemingly un-related men -- but problems arise when he develops a friendship with one of his targets, and a rival hitman arrives to finish the job.

A Killer's Expiry Date

A Killer's Expiry Date starts out fine; there is a moody action sequence which sets up why Lai wants to quit, and the movie does a good job of balancing drama and comedy, as Lai attends "re-training" classes to get a new job. Also, the acting is good all around. In particular, Eddy Ko Hung is great in a touching (and too short) role as an alcoholic hitman whose best days are behind him, and some note must also be made of Rain Lau, who manages to portray a realistic, strong woman, instead of the whiny or bitchy woman females are usually regulated to in crime movies.

What really does A Killer's Expiry Date in is a sense of deja vu. There is really nothing new here. I enjoyed the characters, it is is filmed well, and there is some decent action... but it just didn't have that extra punch to make it a "must-see" kind of movie. Even though it tries to be a bit different (which I admire it for), it doesn't go far enough. The film-makers should have been a bit more bold instead of playing it safe, because when it boils down, A Killer's Expiry Date is just the same old gangster movie in a slightly newer package.

A Killer's Expiry Date