Killing Skill (HK 2001)

Rating: *
Review Date: 5/26/03
Produced And Directed By: Philip Ko
Cast: Mark Cheng, Lily Chung, cameo by Philip Ko

This embarrassingly bad film is a shoddy retelling of Robert Rodriguez's "Desperado" (1995) with a couple of twists thrown in - namely that the main character is female. After losing her husband to a powerful drug lord, Rain (impressive Lily Chung) sets out on the road to vengeance as the notorious "Guitar Killer." After getting wounded in battle (although this isn't made clear), she is rescued by an exotic dancer named Vanessa and the two become friends. Unfortunately their friendship is short-lived when Rain discovers that Vanessa is dealing drugs and sleeping with the man that she's sworn to kill. And guess who that man turns out to be? Oh, the bitter irony... Fists and bullets fly, and only the two women manage to walk away from it all. In a great moment of femme fatale dialog, Vanessa nonchalantly says "Who would have thought that we loved the same man, but he's dead now so who cares?"

I'm not a fan of Philip Ko's low budget action films, but I somehow keep finding myself watching them. While his execution is typically poor and misguided, he's a true girls 'n' guns fan at heart, and he usually manages to capture the right tone and attitude for the genre. I can definitely appreciate this, since so few filmmakers seem capable of getting this right. Apart from shoestring budget constraints, what makes this film nearly unwatchable is the awful cinematography and editing, and a barely comprehensible script. In fact, the film actually counts on the fact that you've already seen "Desperado" so that it doesn't have to bother with telling you the story. The cinematography and editing are truly dreadful, even by no-budget Asian standards. Nowhere is this more painfully evident than in the dance club where Vanessa works. The camera zooms, pans, and rolls in a completely nonsensical manner, and slow motion shots are forceably joined with undercranked shots to ridiculous effect. Exotic dancers in fast motion do not generate ANY sort of sensually charged erotic atmosphere, and it only accentuates the fact that Vanessa is a terrible dancer. It's painful to watch and it just goes on and on... In fact, most of the film is just generic filler material, including a ridiculously lengthy and completely unnecessary boxing match towards the end of the movie.

The sparse action sequences are brief and uninspired, but bring to light the only reason to watch this film at all - Lily Chung. Incredibly pretty and burning with female rage and fierce intensity, the film's main purpose to show her posing with her guns and her guitar, and shooting nameless bad guys in glorious slow motion. This is masturbation fantasy filmmaking at its finest, and the camera lovingly caresses Ms. Chung as only a lover could. The beauty shots go to such enjoyably absurd extremes that a giant portion of the film is devoted to just watching her walk down the street in ultra-slow motion. One laughable scene has her approaching a table of bad guys - in slow motion of course - and it literally takes her a minute or two to reach them, intercut with scenes of the guys drinking and looking back at her. Naturally, they're all dead in a matter of seconds when she finally reaches them. Unless you're a fan of girls 'n' guns action and/or Lily Chung, there's absolutely no reason to check out this disaster.