Killer's Romance

The Eastern B-movie company Tai Seng has made it possible for Western viewers to enjoy the charms of Simon Yam, one of a long line of Asian action stars who labor in the shadow of Chow Yun Fat and Jackie Chan. In Mission Kill, Yam is an FBI/Interpol double agent who, with the help of the fantastic Moon Lee, must track down the dirty cop who's tipping off some drug lords. Killer's Romance is a Godfather-esque action-tragedy featuring Yam as the adopted son of a slain crimelord who falls in love with the murder witness he must kill. Yam does a decent enough job in these films, particularly when frequent martial-arts segments don't require the audience to believe in his smoldering cool, which, unfortunately, is not universal in its appeal. Yam does have the good sense not to overact, and his physical gifts are considerable; the swordfighting scenes in Killer's Romance are worth plenty of rewinding. Sure, the subtitles are bad, those Yakuza-style brush-cuts are silly, and the clothes and music can be annoying to the point of distraction, but Yam can shoot and smirk better than most Westerners. One warning: If you wish to keep any of the respect you've developed for Yam, skip the unwatchable Cyprus Tigers, an almost physically painful Hong Kong-cinema-meets-Police Academy morass of adolescent boob jokes, nerd-bashing and sexy crimefighting, which somehow culminates in a bittersweet lesson on loyalty and friendship.

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