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Wednesday, May 6 1998
A terrifically funny Hong Kong thriller with Jet Li as a shy bumpkin from the mainland trying to make a living in a crew of low-rent hit men. When a mysterious super-hit man known as the "King of Killers" assassinates a Japanese magnate, the magnate's "Revenge Fund" of $100 million kicks in, to go to the man who kills his assassin. One of the movie's very clever riffs is the corporatization of killing-for-hire -- the Tsukamoto Revenge Fund is run just like an investment portfolio, with a fund manager and board of directors. Li joins in on the international race to win this prize, aided by his new agent (every assassin has an agent, of course), played by Eric Tsang, a rascal who wears eight pagers and thinks like a Hollywood player. The movie has plenty of plot backflips, some positively ingenious action sequences, and the asset of Li's low-key charm, but Tsang, as he often does, simply takes the movie and runs. He's grown into one of Hong Kong's great character actors, and he swaggers through Hitman with tremendous relish. With many of Hong Kong's top people (including Jet Li, to be seen soon in Lethal Weapon 4) defecting to Hollywood, Tsang -- sort of a Chinese Danny DeVito -- may just be Hong Kong's most charismatic star.

-- Tod Booth

Hitman opens Friday, May 8, at the Four Star.

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Tod Booth


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