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Kiss Me So Long I Can't Breathe (1999) Kiss Me So Long I Can't Breathe (1999)
Kiss Me So Long I Can't Breathe
Taegwan KIM
Atsuki KATOH
90 mins.
Kiss Me So Long I Can't Breathe (1999)

Shot in a grainy, almost excessively handheld manner, this starts out as yet another low budget attempt at making a 'cool' hitman movie. First impressions are disastrous: it seems clumsy and amateurish, especially in the acting. There's quick cutting, handheld shots, guns and sex scenes, but they seem like gloss - a transparant attempt to hide the film's overly apparent weaknesses.

But about 25 minutes into the film, those impressions change. Yes, it's another hitman film, but director Kim relishes the opportunity to toy with the built-in expectancies of the genre. Created around the triangle of a young hitman, a call girl and the hitman's next victim (who not unsurprisingly is the call girl's next client), Kiss Me So Long I Can't Breathe uses the Rashomon model of showing a single event from different perspectives, jumping back and forth in time and changing points of view along the way. During this process, important plot developments are disclosed before they happen, creating even more expectancies in the viewer - expectancies that Kim gleefully sweeps away by having the story go off in a completely different direction.

Perhaps inevitably with this kind of narrative construction, the actual plot is very thin. When all is said and done, very little in the way of a story has been told. But storytelling is not the point of this film. With the exception of that first 25 minutes, it's an inventive, interesting and energetic excercise by a director who no doubt has more aces up his sleeve.

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