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Cheap Killers
cast: Alex Fong, Sunny Chan, Kathy Chow

director: Clarence Ford

115 minutes (18) 1998
widescreen aspect ratio 16:9
Hong Kong Classics
DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Jeff Young
Written and produced by Wong Jing, this is a crime story of friendship, betrayal, loyalty, and sex - as you'd expect from Ford (the maker of Naked Killer).
   Sam Cool (Fong) and Yat-tiu (Chan) are triad wiseguys who fall on hard times when Yat-tiu becomes attracted to gangster's moll Ling (Chow). She's young, very pretty and irresistible, but turns out to be an ambitious femme fatale waiting for her chance to be picked up by the likes of heavyweight mobster Doctrine King. After the inadvertent murder of gang boss Jimmy Ma, Yat-tiu and Sam lose everything while on the run from the cops and underworld enemies, finding their status reduced to lowest ranking thugs.
   Injured and traumatised by their conflict with Doctrine's men, Yat-tiu suffers from drug addiction and impotence (his biggest fear, as he told Ling) while Sam - no longer very cool under fire - has become a hotheaded 'cheap killer' since his wounding. Though director Ford can handle action scenes with a certain vigour and skill, he lacks the style of Ringo Lam or Ronny Yu. Furthermore, his tendency to emphasise homoerotic closeness between the two leads detracts from the film's posturing machismo. Still, the final showdown at an exchange of prisoners is well choreographed, and sees old scores settled once and for all with knives, shotguns and a flamethrower!
   DVD extras: cast and crew biographies and filmographies, trailer, stills gallery, and outtakes footage.