Mr Dick (Dick Wei...) heads up an organisation that puts out contracts on various people who dare to oppose the Triads and Hong Kong underworld. In addition to his two most faithful men, Ngok and Han (Lo Lieh and Simon Yam), Mr Dick also drafts in a young, wet behind-the-ears lad called Shan (Jacky Cheung) who is literally fresh off the boat from Vietnam. Shan becomes Han's protégé and must quickly learn how to become a ruthless contract killer despite his youth and general clumsiness.
Complications arise when a tough female Interpol officer (Elaine Lui) captures one of the gang and forces him to become an informant. The young protégé, Shan, is now faced with the most difficult task of all...and that is to eliminate one of his own crew under the order of the boss.
'Bullet For Hire' is a frustratingly uneven film which starts off on a high note with the well staged assassination of a foreign Interpol officer. The action here is well staged, brisk and brutal. Unfortunately, after a promising opening the film gets bogged down with some weak comedy and light hearted sequences following Jacky Cheung's character as he tries to learn the ropes of becoming an assassin. As usual Cheung plays the obnoxious misfit role well (as he did in 'As Tears Go By') but it seems a little too implausible that a boss of Mr Dick's stature and austerity would hire someone so inept to carry out high profile assassinations. One scene that does enliven the middle section is a chainsaw torture which is swiped directly from Brian De Palma's 'Scarface'.
Despite the fact that there is no-one to really root for due to a lack of characterisation, the final showdown is actually quite exciting as the mighty Dick Wei takes on the remainder of the cast inside and around the grounds of his mansion. The director's technique of having two people stand face to face and fire straight into each other in slow-motion is abandoned here and gives way to some more fluid and inventive action utilising the interiors of the mansion to great effect.
[B]Low points:[/B] The drawn out comedic middle section with its dreadful soundtrack, too little of Elaine Lui - her character just seemed to disappear!, dumb villains who make no effort to evade bullets and all die in the same slo-mo fashion.
[B]Highlights: [/B]Decent cast, a few genuinely brutal and nasty moments of violence - especially that to a mother and her child..., the fast-paced opening and closing action sequences.
For disscussion about gun play movies of all the eras.
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