Ballistic Kiss (HK 1998)

Rating: **
Review Date: 7/8/00
Producer: Donnie Yen
Director: Donnie Yen
Action Director: Donnie Yen
Writer: Bey Logan
Cast: Donnie Yen, Annie Wu, cameos by Yu Rong Guang and Michael Woods

Donnie Yen is a troubled and jaded professional assassin named Cat. Ironically, he's stalking a beautiful young woman (Annie Wu) who just so happens to be one of the police officers that's trying to bust him. Having grown tired of the killing business, he decides to take that fateful "one last job" and then settle down. It turns out that the last job gets a bit messy, as an old enemy from Cat's past shows up and a vendetta plays out. Annie and her roommate get caught in the crossfire of this testosterone fueled feud, but fortunately manage to survive. The guys aren't so lucky...

I admire Donnie Yen a lot and I really wanted to like this film. Unfortunately, it's a jumbled mess due to incoherent writing and confusing editing. Donnie once again proves that he has a good cinematic eye, and the look and feel of the film are great. His choice of lighting, angles, and filters is stunning and stylish - one might even consider this an action art film. Donnie also flexes his acting muscles a bit, giving a convincing portrayal of a distraught and moody killer who is utterly alone in the world. The action in the film is very wild and over-the-top, giving the film a very cartoony, or anime feeling. The gunplay in the film is outrageous, and even though I'm pretty forgiving when it comes to gun physics, seeing a revolver fire no less than thirty rounds without being reloaded bothered me. The brief kung fu sequences are pretty cool, but invasive editing spoils their flair a bit. However, the biggest disappointment in the kung fu department is seeing Yu Rong Guang and Michael Woods show up for cameos and not duke it out with Donnie. Talk about dashed expectations! All of the over-the-top filmmaking is perfectly complemented by a melancholic and melodramatic musical score, completing the mood and making the film seem even more like live action anime. I even liked the story and the characters quite a bit, but the dialog is confusing and often times just bad. Definitely a mixed bag, but one worth sitting through at least once.