INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL PREMIERE
Too Cool to Kill
这个杀手不太冷静 (Zhe Ge Sha Shou Bu Tai Leng Jing)
China, 2022, 109’, Mandarin
Directed by: Xing Wenxiong
Screenplay: Xing Wenxiong
Photography (color): Gao Hu
Editing: Huang Shang
Music: Peng Fei
Sound: Yang Jiang, Zhao Nan
Producers: Tian Tian, Ma Chi
Production Companies: New Classics Pictures, Slinky Town Pictures, Beijing Fun Age Pictures, Tianjin Maoyan Weiying Media, Tianjin Yuewen Media, Tencent Pictures Culture Media
Cast: Ma Li (Mi Lan), Wei Xiang (Wei Chenggong), Chen Minghao (Hawei), Zhou Dayong, Huang Cailun, Gao Haibao, Han Xiao, Ai Lun, Sun Guiquan, Quan Rongbiao, Gianluca Zoppa
Date of First Release in Territory: February 1st, 2022
Released during the Chinese New Year, the comedy Too Cool to Kill, written and directed by Xing Wenxiong, loosely based on the Japanese film The Magic Hour (2008) by Mitani Koki, has received encouraging reviews since its premiere, and was very well rated by the public from the first day of its release, with a score of 9.2 out of 10 on the Maoyan platform. In Too Cool to Kill, gangster boss Hawei is grazed on the ear by a bullet and is convinced, by examining the spent shell casing found on the floor, that he was the target of legendary hitman Karl, who is notorious for always hitting his man. Hawei, determined to find Karl to dissuade him before he tries to kill him again, discovers that no one knows his identity, no one knows what he looks like. However, when Hawei visits the set of a film he is financing in order to woo the famous actress Mi Lan, he learns that Mi Lan knows Karl as one of her suitors. In reality, Mi Lan and her brother Mi Le, the director of the film, are pretending to know in an attempt to ingratiate themselves with Hawei and to buy time to get out of town and thus out of his reach. Hawei asks Mi Lan to arrange a meeting with Karl the next day, leaving her with no choice but to get an unsuspecting Wei Chenggong, an ambitious actor with little experience, to portray Karl, making him think he’s casting him as a ruthless killer, “Karl,” in an unscripted film with hidden cameras and actors free to improvise by creating and playing their own characters. As Hawei prepares to meet Karl, the most notorious of killers, Wei Chenggong prepares for the most important role of his career. Thus begins a classic comedy of misunderstandings, obviously exaggerated by the premise, where everyone is suspicious of everyone except the killer who is not a killer. Among the most hilarious scenes, the business meeting between Jimi, Hawei’s deputy, and an Italian mobster, with Karl acting as his interpreter, is an unforgettable gem. When the truth reveals all the twists and turns of the charade concocted by Mi Lan and Mi Le, the real Karl enters the picture.
Too Cool to Kill is a homage to cinema and its genres, a mix of Comedy, Gangster and Spaghetti Westerns, with scenes from Gene Kelly and Stanley Donan’s cult musical Singin’ in the Rain and, according to the more curious cinephiles, scenes from Don Siegel’s neo-noir The Killers, Kurosawa Akira’s samurai Yojimbo, Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Western A Fistful of Dollars and Robert Rodriguez’s neo-Western El Mariachi. Even the original Chinese title, Zhe Ge Sha Shou Bu Tai Leng Jing, literally “This Killer Is not too Calm,” is a tribute, a play on words that recalls another film beloved by Chinese audiences, Luc Besson’s Léon, whose Chinese title Zhe Ge Sha Shou Bu Tai Leng differs by only one character at the end, slightly changing the title to “This Killer Is not too Cool.”
Too Cool to Kill delivers a story that playfully straddles reality and fiction, and the truth at the end of the day doesn’t seem as important as having conveyed what you believe in, like Wei Chenggong in his parents’ lives. In reality as in fiction, we are interpreters of what we sincerely believe in. Just as a comedy does not aspire to be original, but something that adapts to test our sense of humour in accordance to the times we live in.
A degree from the Shanghai Theatre Academy, Xing Wenxiong was a leading screenwriter for Shanghai Dragon TV. Too Cool to Kill is his feature debut.
2022 – Too Cool to Kill