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Hard Boiled

Zerosun Movie Review

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Hard Boiled

 

“In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity”…..Hunter S. Thompson

 

“Shoot first. Ask questions later”……Anonymous psychopath

 

 

One of the great achievements of cinema is to make cops seem like cool people. As anyone knows who has had to deal with them in real life, they are not cool in the slightest. John Woo’s bullet riddled ballet, “Hard Boiled,” is an exercise in excessively carnage laden, cop and robber fun.

 

This movie is often listed at the top of various magazines lists of the greatest action films, and rightly so.  “Hard Boiled” has, without question, the highest body count of any movie I’ve ever seen. Yes, even more than the highly overrated “Commando” (starring Conan: The Bastard Maker).  In John Woo’s Hong Kong, a city set ablaze by powerful triads and a trigger-happy police force, reloading your weapon seems to be a trivial option in a massive firefight.  Pistols hold thousands of rounds, and machines guns hold millions.  A popular tactic in this crazy criminal world is to hit someone head on with a motorcycle, which by the way, will explode into a massive fireball if hit by a shotgun blast.  Civilians are simply in the way, and expendable.

 

Unlike other films of this kind, “Hard Boiled” has some marvelous personality and style in the scenes punctuating the glorious massacres.  This is due to a few things.

 

Chow-Yun Fat, as “Tequila,” fits the classic mold of a renegade, top of the line, confident cop.  Movies like “Hard Boiled” show why this archetype is so adored worldwide, and the reason behind Chow-Yun Fat’s popularity.  John Woo is a talented director with an interesting vision that he’s rarely pulled off.  He did it with “Hard Boiled.”  It’s odd to me that Tony Leung (Hero) has not yet done a crossover role in English.  He speaks it very well, and shows the promise of greatness in “Hard Boiled” that Leung has delivered on, as he portrays the tortured undercover cop, Allen.

 

Roger Ebert said that a good action movie, requires a good villain.  Woo basically breaks this “rule” in “Hard Boiled.”  Anthony Wong is a terrific actor (Infernal Affairs), but he is hardly worth attention as the leader of a gun running operation in this movie. Tirelessly, but accurately described as balletic, Woo perfects his style of over the top, Eastern style gunplay in “Hard Boiled.”  In Woo-World, a one on one gun battle cannot end until 50,000 bullets have been fired.  This requires an enormous amount of dodging, leaping, diving, ducking, eluding, and general acrobatics to survive and prevail.  It’s an incredible blast to watch.  Anyone who has ever shot a handgun, knows how hard it would be to do akimbo.  This is a pre-requisite skill in “Hard Boiled.”

John Woo originally planned to become a priest, which explains his perennial usage of pigeons in his movies.  This got old.  While “Face-Off” and “Broken Arrow” had some memorable lines and characters, Woo never recaptured the absolute insanity of an almost cartoonish shootout as he did in “Hard Boiled.”

 

The most important thing to know about “Hard Boiled” is that hundreds of cops, criminals, and bystanders run around shooting each other during the course of three extremely exciting and exaggerated battles, with a half dozen or so brief but precise and stylish acts of murder in between.  “Hard Boiled” was released in 1992, and it shows.  This is why the boundless violence cannot be taken seriously, but certainly still enjoyed.  If pandemonium is your thing, then “Hard Boiled” is as well.

 

- Magistrate Dunham

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