Hard Boiled (1992)
Reviewed by: Gaijin84 on 2006-01-08
Summary: One of the pinnacles of film-making...
It had probably been around 10 years since I first saw Hard Boiled, so I decided to watch it again and refresh my memory. There were a few things that had stuck in my mind from my first viewing: Tequila's flour and blood splattered face from the teahouse shootout; the motorcycle plowing into the warehouse thug; Phillip Kwok's insane Mad Dog character complete with bloody eyepatch; and Chow Yun Fat's face as he does his mad dash down the hospital corridor with explosions nearly burning his hair off. I had never seen, and still to this day have not seen, many movies that rival Hard Boiled in terms of pure action. Never before had someone managed to portray action and bloodshed in such a fluid and graceful way. To this day, it still remains as one of the pinacles of film-making.

Even though I mostly remembered the action from my initial time seeing it, the additional 10 years of maturity (I hope) allowed me to see what a fantastic directing and acting job this movie represents. Woo's use of dark, soulful music (his trademark sax solos) and dimly-lit sets reminded me a lot of Michael Mann's original Miami Vice. He is able to set a very grim and tense atmosphere and suck you into the cop's trials and tribulations within minutes of the film starting. Woo's use of gunplay is of course legendary, but seeing this again brought back to the forefront of my mind how incredible these action pieces are. Again to compare to Mann, Heat's street gun battle is probably the only movie (other than The Killer) to really rival the excitement produced from stylistic gun violence. In a perverse way, the mass desctruction produced by Tequila and company's .38s, machine guns and especially shotguns is thrilling. There is definitely a reason why it seemed that every Hollywood movie after Hard Boiled had dual-gun wielding heroes. Chow Yun Fat exudes cool in this movie and Tony Leung matches him with his incredible charisma. It would be hard to find a better combination on screen than these two. Phillip Kwok's Mad Dog character is unbelievably vicious and menacing, but still manages to be ultra-cool and even show a bit of heart near the end, demonstrating the shaky moral high-ground that triads like to believe they uphold.

There isn't much to quibble about with this film, save for the somewhat pervasive fanfare that seems to accompany any large group of fast-moving cars or gathering of important people. Other than this minor annoyance, this may be the perfect action film.
Reviewer Score: 10