Coolie Killer

Paced like a rabid humming bird, this 1982 low budget gritty action film has received a growing reputation over the years. From the opening scene in which two people are coldly assassinated by a shot to the head, this consistently entertaining film rarely pauses for a breather. When you think about it later, you realize that some of the plot elements (and one killing in particular) aren't really very logical, but you are moving too quickly from one action scene to the other to notice or care.
The action scenes are plentiful, violent and inventive (if silly at times), but they fall very short of the slick gunplay of a John Woo film - and are almost charmingly clunky at times. Part of the reason for this has to lie with the main character played by Charlie Chin. Chin was a top leading man in Taiwan during the 1970's - but generally cast in melodramas and comedies. Action does not seem to be his forte. He looks to be much too awkward and slow to be believable as a top professional killer. He looks so bad during the hand to hand fighting scenes that I think my grandmother could take him. This definitely weakens the impact of the action scenes, but Chinís stern demeanor and steely jaw line give the dramatic aspects of the film a good boost.
Chin is the head of a group of five professional killers - all former coolies - who accept contracts from a secretive middlewoman and then efficiently carry them out. Chin receives an offer to take out two of the leading heads of a crime family, but he turns it down because the targets are located in HK and his rule is to do hits only outside of the colony. Later that night a veritable army of killers attacks all five of them individually in interesting if outlandish ways.
Charlie is attacked in his apartment by a group of roller skating assassins (why assassins would handicap themselves by wearing roller skates is left unknown!), another is skewered by a confluence of motorcyclists on the open road, the third has his throat cut by a naked sex kitten in a hot tub, another is ambushed in a parking garage and the final killer is chased until he crashes his car and it explodes. Only a badly wounded Charlie escapes and he hides up with an old acquaintance and his daughter, Cecilia Yip (looking very young and beautiful in this very early film of hers) and sets about trying to track down the killers to exact his pound of flesh for his dead friends. A cop (Yueh Hua) is trying to chase down Charlie, but eventually allows Chinís hunt to play out. This leads to various well staged shoot outs and a fair amount of blood letting.
The film has a basic almost primitive feel to it that becomes quite gripping as the film goes on. One never really understands Chinís character or to particularly sympathize with him Ė yet itís hard not to get involved with his relentless search for the killers of his friends.

My rating for this film: 7.0



DVD Information:

Distributed by Mei Ah

Taking into account the age of the film, the transfer  is good. There is a fair amount of speckling, but never enough to be too distracting.

Letterboxed

Cantonese and Mandarin language tracks 

Subtitles:  Chinese , English, Nil

9 Chapters

It does not have it's own trailer, but does include one for Stars and Roses.

The sub-titles are easy to read.

One interesting bit of information I came across on the Mobius Board is that there are two endings out there - one on the DVD and the other on VCD -  in which the fate of the cop differs.