Killer Tattoo

In the old days, before Netflix and Netflix Instant (and torrents and all) I had a terrible, terrible habit of hearing about some cool Asian movie and I'd order it from DDDHouse and by the time the movie got to me by the literal slow-boat-from-China I'd be off on some other obsession and I'd never get around to watching it. These days I accomplish the same thing by adding stuff to the Netflix Instant Queue and then never watching it—it's much faster.

So one of my ongoing projects is to watch all these old Hong Kong and Japanese and Thai movies from the 90s that I have lying around on DVD, and then getting rid of the DVD. How many times am I going to rewatch any of them?

Well, once at least, it turns out for Killer Tattoo. I picked it out of the pile, started watching, and it took me a quarter of the way through before I realized that I'd seen it before. But I couldn't remember how it ended, so I continued watching all the way through.

The English subtitles on the version I have were pretty badly translated, so the dialog is pretty laughable. But if you can get past that, as an action-comedy it's pretty solidly plotted. Kit Silencer is a master hit man, but he's only doing the work to try and track down the man who killed his parents in front of his eyes, a man with a titular tattoo. He's hired by a crime boss to kill the chief of police, but the boss' flunky doubles up on the work and also hires aging hitman Buffalo Gun, newly released from prison, who assembles his own rag-tag team: Ghostman, tormented by the accidental death of his wife, Dog, who wields explosives instead of guns, and Elvis, an M-16 totting Thai gunman who is convinced that he is Elvis Presley (and speaks only English, or at least what he calls English). Does the job go south because of the competing hits? You betcha, and things get worse from there.

I love a good crime-gone-bad-then-worse story (cf. Fargo, etc.) and this is an excellent example of the genre. But where the movie really shines for me, personally, is that it's also a great example of story and editing triumphing over budget. There are number of action sequences in the movie that I rewound a few times just to see how the use of excellent cutting was creating an exciting scene even though, for example, a "stabbing" never showed you a blade entering a body, nor any blood.

(A side note: there are some references in other reviews and the Wikipedia entry for the movie and so on that it's set in a "future Bangkok"—maybe that's something that didn't come through in the translation, but I really didn't see how it was future at all. It just look like a modern criminal underworld. Whatevs.)

FuzzyCo grade: A