Director: Donnie Yen
Writer: Bey Logan
Cast: Donnie Yen, Annie Wu (Ng San-Kwan), James Wong Ka-Lok, Simon Lui Yu-Yeung, Yu Rong-Guang, Karen Tong Bo-Yu, Michael Woods, Vincent Kok Tak-Chiu
Running Time: 90 min.
I’m tempted to say “nice try”.
If John Woo had only half an ass, he might make a film like this. Cat is a lonesome, depressed assassin who wears goofy-looking sunglasses with rectangular frames. He shoots and beats up lots of people while looking very bored. Carrie is a police woman who, during a conference about Cat’s activities, comes to the awe-inspiring conclusion that such an efficient killer must live alone and not have any friends. Cat just happens to live near Carrie’s house and has delusions of romantic bliss with her. He solemnly dances around his living room, leading an imaginary partner. Then he engages in elaborate masturbation rituals involving gerbils, telephone cords, and cottage cheese.
OK, I made that last part up. But, considering how uninvolving this movie can be, the imagination has a tendency to wander elsewhere. The story of how Cat was betrayed by his buddy in New York City, went to prison, and now itches for payback is so bland I actually found myself looking forward to the ham-fisted dialogues between Cat and Carrie for a change of pace. The shootouts are choreographed adequately but lack any real emotional punch. Cat’s character plays a big role in this. He goes through most of the movie with the same tone of voice and the same facial expression. I guess he went to the Jean-Claude Van Damme School of Acting. And, even though he supposedly has two big motivating factors in his life – his love of Carrie and his desire for revenge – he doesn’t seem to give a damn whether he lives or dies.
Now, one thing that really pisses me off is when a movie starves for lack of substance and the film makers try to make up for it with style. A lot of the action here takes place with his pale blue light illuminating everything. Sorry Mr. Yen, but making the characters look like Smurfs does not make them any more or less sympathetic. There’s some really annoying use of heavy shadow, too.
This movie is not entirely without merit, though. The music fits quite nicely…I sat through the closing credits to hear it. The radio DJ whom Cat regularly calls was a nice touch. And it’s one of those rare HK action films that actually has an ending that leaves the scene of the final act of violence. But none of this is enough to save Ballistic Kiss from being filed under “cookie cutter”.
Numskull’s Rating: 4/10