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辣手神探 (1992)
Hard Boiled

Reviewed by: Brian Thibodeau
Date: 03/04/2010

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: Chungking_Cash
Date: 02/14/2010

John Woo's final foray into Cantonese language cinema (to date) is also his most melodramatic piece of filmmaking powered in-part by Michael Gibbs's jazz laden score, a script perspiring with existential dialogue (phantom penned by Gordon Chan), Wong Wing-hang's stylish cinematography, and Woo's own need to admonish his audience about the consequences of violence which at the time was on a dramatic incline in Hong Kong.

"Hard Boiled" is also one of John Woo's most accomplished films fitting snuggly into the action czar's wheel house with copious amounts of ridiculously over scaled ammo orgies that Woo choreographs like a guerrilla filmmaker -- despite this being his eighth action film -- something so few of his peers will ever be likened to.

Despite achieving cult classic status in the U.S. and introducing American audiences to director John Woo and lead actor Chow Yun-fat "Hard Boiled" performed below expectations domestically causing Woo to fear he had lost his target audience which resulted in his early exodus to Hollywood.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 10/26/2007
Summary: overblown, and over-hyped

Along with Chow Yun-Fat, John Woo dominated the local Hong Kong cinemas for almost a decade. When Hollywood called both Woo and Chow, they answered. Before they left, they made Hard Boiled. Viewers like this movie for many valid reasons. I think it's excessive, overblown, and over-hyped. Like The Killer and A Better Tommorrow, I saw Hard Boiled in a cinema. Not the Music Palace in Chinatown, mind you, but at the Cinema Village uptown with the so-called cinema cognoscenti. I felt like Woo was mocking me, it gave me a headache and I've never had the desire to revisit the film on DVD. The promotional image of Chow and the baby is the best thing about the film.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 01/31/2006
Summary: Justifiably lauded

HARD BOILED is one of the most widely known Hong Kong action films in the world - for many people it is the definition of HK's action style in fact. The story of a hard boiled cop whose favourite law is "shoot first" and the undercover cop whose life he messes up is a classic, and the production values are as high as any Hong Kong film had ever seen. The film is certainly "action-packed" too, with a few moderate scenes early on being just a taster for a finale that runs over 30 minutes of mostly non-stop gunplay action. The action is beautifully choreographed and filmed, a ballet of destruction. Every bullets seem to explode and so does most of the scenery, with the spray of lead impacting on everything except our heroes and the more character-worthy villains. It's all preposterous, but still a beautiful sight to behold!

In some ways it's a shame Woo is so popular in the west, as it creates a very skewed perception of what "Hong Kong Action" is about... there really aren't that many "bullet ballet" films out there, certainly compared to the wealth of martial arts films that were Woo's inspiration (replace the guns with swords and you've got a Chang Cheh film, basically). The other gunplay films HK has produced invariably fail to meet the standards set by HARD BOILED, too, which probably leads to disappointed viewers who start here and get the impression that HK cinema is all downhill from there.

Still, can't hold that against the film itself, which is certainly John Woo's finest hour, and a genuine modern classic!

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: Gaijin84
Date: 01/08/2006
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

Reviewed by: Arshadnm6
Date: 04/10/2005
Summary: Ultra Action, Death Defying Stunts and Super Choreography!!!

Chow Yun Fat and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai star in this ultra action-packed movie, with little emphasis on plot and plenty of emphasis on bullet-dodging galore. This is one of John Woo’s most renowned movies that he directed shortly after hitching a ride to Hollywood.

Chow Yun Fat stars ‘Tequila’, a Hard-Boiled Renegade Cop, whose sole duty is to catch the evil and notorious ‘Anthony Wong’, after his partner is killed in an extravagant shoot-out in a Chinese Tea House. The action-sequence alone in the Tea House is set at such a huge scale and very few movies in the present day can actually boast with such a display of chaos and dynamical camera-work. Later on his quest to arrest the illegal arms smuggler ‘Anthony Wong’, he meets up with triad assassin ‘Tony’ (Tony Leung) and at first mistakes him to be in collusion with ‘Anthony Wong’. Further into the movie ‘Tequila’ discovers that ‘Tony’ is in fact an undercover cop, surprisingly working for his Captain ‘Phillip Chan’ (whom you might recognize in previous movies, such as ‘The Tigers’ and ‘Winners and Sinners’). Finally they meet in a hospital for a climatic showdown that is not only breath taking, but has been set at such a grand scale, that no other HK movie has surpassed in many years. The last action sequence alone takes over at least 50% of the movie.

‘Philip Kwok’ (also action-directed this movie, as well as the French critically acclaimed ‘Brotherhood of the Wolf’ and Michelle Yeoh’s ‘The Touch’) also stars in this extravaganza as ‘Mad Dog’, a Loyal Triad Hitman, whose loyalty to ones Boss is more important than anything else, but also has notify-able principles, i.e. will not harm innocent people. The relationship between Philip Kwok and Anthony Wong is not fully explored, which doesn’t allow you to understand why Philip is so loyal to Anthony Wong, neither do we get any background history on either of their characters. What makes hard boiled a level above all the rest of the movies is efficiency to derive an excellent simplistic plot and have enough characters to accompany it, that at times character development and background history will be unnecessary.

Teresa Mo also stars in this movie as Tequila’s Girlfriend / Superior Officer whom really doesn’t get much screen-time apart from the occasional side actor / female lead role every now and again. This movie is really full of male testosterone, and John Woo proves once again that he is the rightful king of ‘Insane Blazing Two Gun Ultra Action’ with no-holds bared when it comes to law and enforcement. In one scene, Anthony Wong hilariously instructs his legion of triads to open fire on the surrounding (perhaps overwhelming, very carefully said) police force and automatically all his Triads pick up their M16, Automatic Rifles and Double-Barrel Guns and open fire at the police without even a single triad showing any resistance or remorse.

Overall this movie cannot get enough respect, yet the movie has some minute yet evident defects. One includes a basic plot, where no twists or double crosses occur and you can actually forget any romance between Chow Yun Fat and Teresa Mo (besides the fact you’d be quite brainless to look for any romance in a John Woo film) and character development is literally out of the roof. This is one movie that you will agree is quite unforgettable and deserves to be in the top 100 of the all time best HK Movies.

Overall Rating: 9.3/10

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: SteelwireMantis
Date: 10/25/2003

John Woo's final Hong Kong bulletfest proved to be the greatest action movie ever made combining the talents of his alter-ego Chow Yun-Fat, Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Anthony Wong in an ass kicking adrenaline ride.

Sergeant 'Tequila' Yuen (Chow) is hell-bent on solving a gun-running case after his partner was shot down brutally (seemed like more than 20 shots) in a shootout at a teahouse against gangsters. Yuen cannot convince himself that his life is not a mess, a case to be solved, dealing with the death of his buddy and breaking up with his girlfriend cop Teresa (Teresa Mo). Tony (Leung), a gangster, has betrayed his boss and has given his right hand to Johnny Wong (Anthony Wong) to be ahead in the gun-running business. Tequila and Tony meet coincidentally and team-up to take on Johnny Wong and save Hong Kong. During this job Tequila discovers a dark, hidden secret about Tony.

The best movie to be made by John Woo was 'The Killer', but this movie has something more for the action-fan as well as a good plot with involving characters played by an excellent cast. This is actually the most violent film in history containing the highest bodycount and highest number of times a fire-arm has has been fired. Some people may find this film too gory and quite disturbing, those who see it is only a film will get pure satisfaction garuanteed. Chow Yun-Fat and Tony Leung give excellent performances, but Anthony Wong gets the upper hand as he convinces the audience that he is a complete asshole as a bad guy in this movie. An excellent shot from the movie is when Tequila slides down a a staircase handrail on his back as he massacres two thugs in the teahouse with two handguns. I don't know anyone who ain't heard of this movie if they ain't seen it.

Bullets, blood and explosions, there has never been an action movie like this before or after it. The best action movie of all time.


Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: carrot car
Date: 03/08/2003
Summary: Brilliant Work

It's sad. Very sad. The reason behind the sucess of this film was not just the director, nor the actors. The crew and writers had much to do with this film's power. It's so sad that Woo is doing the junk he's doing now for hollywood compared to what he COULD do in hong kong. This film is shows us what John Woo, Chow Yun Fat, Anthony Wong, and Tony Leung can do with great support. I love the modernity of this film. Tony Leung's opening scene in this film really shows an avant garde style. It is also sad that Chow Yun Fat is so held back with his work today. I can understand that a man must make his living. He needs his money, but why can't he have both? His time is running out and the great actor needs a tri di for. Sorry for the spelling. 9 of 10. stars.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: balstino
Date: 07/23/2002
Summary: Greatest Action Film ever made. BUY.

In Action terms, I doubt this will ever be bettered. I think when you watch this film, you are observing a one off collaboration. I watch it once a week and still spot something new, or discover more appreciation for some smaller detail. Chow is GOD, Tony Leung is fantastic, Teresa Mo is great (very subtle), in fact, every one is superb. Can I fault this film? Only on first viewing because it is too much to take in. Some people say the end scene is too long, I thought that too first time around. Is the story a little makeshift?

All I know is when I watch it now, Hard Boiled is perfect.

Reviewed by: Tatus
Date: 06/12/2002
Summary: just read the damned review........

die hard most definatley with a vengance - it's fast, furious and downright fearce as chow gets to grips with some serious weapons and blasts his way through hoards of bad guys. violent and wonderfully stylish - a few to many freeze frame effects for my liking but all in all top stuff!!
some of the stunts are jaw dropping - i paricularly like this bit where.......ahh just watch it - it will blow you away (cheesey tag linery of the highest order)

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: JAWSARMED
Date: 04/23/2002


Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 01/12/2002
Summary: Whats the fuss?

This might sound strange, but I have never seen what the big deal was about this movie. Sure, it had a good story, Tony Leung was pretty good, but apart from some of the action, I found it no better than your average HK action movie.

Rating: 3/5

(This rating is based on the year & genre, so don't think it's based as a comparison on new releases etc.)

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: resdog781
Date: 07/30/2001

What do you get when you put John Woo and Chow Yun-Fat in a room with lots of coffee, and the "Die Hard Trilogy" box set? This movie.

Chow Yun-Fat and Toney Leung both play cops on opposite sides of the same coin(Chow is the hotheaded detective and Tony is an undercover guy posing as a hitman) They're both drawn into a huge arms smuggling case, with the head psychotically played by my man Anthony Wong, and his right hand man played by Phillip Kwok. The close-to-an-hour-long climax occurs in a hospital full of hostages, gangsters, and enough explosives rigged to it to blow it to kingdom come and back again.

The most amazing "John Woo Action Sequences" ever made in a John Woo film, but not a whole lot of plot. But screw the plot! This movie was John Woo's farewell to HK filmmaking, for God's sake!!! If you're looking for a good time, turn off your brain, quit whining about the acting, and just watch John Woo play around with Tony Leung and Chow Yun-Fat like they were two G.I. Joe figures on speed. Amazing stuff.

**PS 7/30/01**
An interesting sidenote. On the new Fox Lorber DVD version of Hard Boiled, John Woo notes (in the director's commentary) that Barry Wong died before completing the final script (which was supposed to be an entirely different film, about a serial killer who poisons his victims), so John and his pal GORDON CHAN finished the script, which explains the first ever appearance of the SDU in a John Woo flick! John Woo and Gordon Chan doing a movie together!!! Suh-weeeeeeet!!!!!! :)

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 05/08/2001
Summary: Excellent

Simply one of the best action films you can see, with a PLOT!! Lots of gunplay and suspense that sustains threw the whole movie!! One of Chow Yun Fat's best!!


Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: Fatty
Date: 04/06/2001
Summary: Just Incredible!!!!!

ahh yes! Hard Boiled, the film I did a school paper on and a film I begged by buddies to go rent, yet they look at me like I'm a retard and go off to watch shit like Terminator 2 or Mission Impossible 2, T2 was aiight but it's Fantasy shit!!!

Well I know there have been alot of reviews but I'll just go along like their were none :)

What is it about: a Triad in HK is doing some Weapons stealing and are hiding out in the basement of the Hospital, the only 2 people to stop them are a Undercover and a "Hard Boiled" Cop Tequila, bah the rest of the police did crap! They got their asses kicked!!

Simply put, the greatest action movie of all time, it has the insane Shootouts, Bloodied violence and a guy named Tequila all in this ass kicking movie, all always thought some Hollywood movies where the best, yet, none of them are close to this baby! cause of course in Hard Boiled, Shit got blown up and that's a 10 in my book, forget T2 or whatever. This is the movie to see!

Plot: Quite good actually, it wasted no time in the violence and their was alittle bit of talking here and there, but who cares the guns do all the talking here :)

Music: It's sweet, I loved the music, I got all of it on Napster and still listen to it all the time.

Characters: Great acting! Anthony Wong plays the badass baddie and does a great job, Philip Kwok as Maddog was amazing aswell, the guy looked like the terminator in some parts of the film plus seeing him with his Uzi and smoking a Cigarette is one of the greatest parts I have ever seen!! :D. I still pick Waise Lee as my fav Villian from ABT, cause he double crossed his pals...My new brother :). Chow Yun Fat and Tony Leung were great awell, Leung as the Undercover was excellent, plus I felt sorry for the guy, he wants to get out of Triad life and Tequila is fucking him over about it, but he finally gets out of it and goes to Antartica.

Ultral Violence: GREAT!! The scene where you see Leung jumping through a old car while Fat is shooting him with the ShotGun in classic, plus the part where Fat and Leung are waiting to enter the Hallway while eerie music begins to play, hell all the 3 main shootouts are the best!! I'm surprised you can hide 3 guns in a Bird Cage, gotta love that John Woo!

In all a great flick! It has the acting, the action and ofcourse this is John Woo's finest, plus you get to see Anthony Wong skinny. Man he looks different now then he did when he did this film. I really want to see this in the Theatres and I'm gonna get this for DVD, even thou I have it on VHS. I'm still waiting for Hard Boiled 2 and see another HUGE Shootout in a Police Station, c'mon Woo, hurry up already and do the sequel!!!!!

5/5 (Nuff said....)

This review is brought to you by Fatty

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: Souxie
Date: 02/27/2001
Summary: Gotta have...

I've only just got into HK movies but after a friend told me if I'd never seen "Hard Boiled" I'd never seen a real John Woo movie, I bought it.
Mistake! It was dubbed over in English, so I didn't get Tony Leung Chiu-Wai's voice! What a complete personal tragedy!
Bloody good film though. I think I've seen it about six times now. It's a good job these DVD things don't wear out...
Rent it or buy it, just watch it. You'll be glad you did. It now takes pride of place in my Tony Leung collection, hehehe...

FOR THOSE OF YOU IN THE UK... this is being re-released with the original soundtrack (Cantonese) and with a few extra minutes in it on April 16th 2001. Look for the blue cover with Chow Yun-Fat holding the baby in his police riot gear (the scene that never actually appeared in the film!).

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 10/29/2000
Summary: This is how REAL action movies should be!

I am no fan of gun/action movies of any sort, but watching HARD BOILED for the first time just now left me totally breathless. What more can I say when everyone knows that this is a true masterpiece and that everyone needs to go out there and get it?

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: illmatic
Date: 10/05/2000

Hard Boiled is one of the best action movies I have ever seen. I sometimes fantasize about totting two guns in each one of my hands as I calmy and cooly move about. When people mention the movie hard boiled they instantly think of all the action or Chow yun fat, but people never talk about the great performance put in my Tony Leung. I think he gives one of the best performances ever of a cop/ganster while at the same time looking cool with the action scenes. No one does it better.

Reviewed by: jasonlau128
Date: 08/21/2000
Summary: crazy

this has got to be crazy, the story is crazy, the exageration is crazy, the acting is good though. Still it is crazy. So crazy, just crazy. The gun battle at the end in the hospital is unbelievably exagerated to the point where you can almost believe Chow yun fat is a super man and can excrete solid gold if the solar constellations are correctly aligned. Now that is how exagerated it is.

After I watched it the first time I could not believe Woo can do such a sucky injustice, but then I watched it a second time to make sure... and I was right, it is an injustice. Crazy. I was so infuriated that I took the tape out the video to the front door and beat it with a base ball bat.

My brother later told me that he borrowed the tape off his friend.

Reviewed by: SUPERCOP
Date: 12/25/1999
Summary: Woo's final ode to HK Cinema.....

John Woo's final ode to Hong Kong Cinema contains some of the director's most exhilirating, hyper-violent action sequences to date. Chow Yun-fat and Tony Leung Chiu-wai turn in fantastic performances as the 2 leasds, while Shaw Brothers veteran Philip Kwok (who also serves as action director) is great as the ultra slick mob henchman. The final 45 minute, no-holds-barred hospital assault contains more action than many Hollywood films in their entirety. This violent masterpiece has yet to fail whenever I try to introduce my friends to the Hong Kong movie world, which is an acheivment in itself, since many of those silly bastards refuse to view anything that is not from the Hollywood factory. Required viewing for any serious HK movie fan.

Rating: 10/10

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/21/1999

John Woo's best film.... unbelievable action, stunts, gun play etcetera.... each set piece outdoes the previous one. Simply brilliant. Not a lotta plot but so what? Chow Yun Fat is cooler than cool as Inspector Tequila.


[Reviewed by Andrej Blazeka]

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 12/11/1999

John Woo's final (at least for now) HK film is his most action-packed to date. The story isn't quite as solid as some of his other films like "The Killer", but in terms of action, Woo has never done better. The opening shootout in the teahouse is better than many films finales, and "Hard-Boiled"s own finale set in a hospital is a orgy of well-constructed violence that has no equal.

Reviewed by: hokazak
Date: 12/09/1999

Can a Cop and an Assassin become buddies? All is not as it seems... More gunplay than you've ever seen, annywhere! Crazy long finale in a hospital full of guns and babies. This is an action movie unlike any other - just go and watch it!

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

John Woo's latest is a large-scale summation of all his pet themes(kind of like North By Northwest). Chow Yun Fat stars as a veteran policeman whose obsession with nailing a brutal arms dealer forces him to team with a mob assassin, who claims to be an undercover cop. The final 45-minute siege on the hospital where the weapons are being stored is the kind of movie magic most directors can only dream about.

[Reviewed by Rim Films Catalog]

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Not a kung fu movie, but instead a great action flick. The first 15 minutes and last 45 minutes of all-out-gun-battles makes all three Die Hards and both Terminators together look a little low on action. I kid you not, if you like gun battle after gun battle after rocket launch after gun battle, this is the film for you.

[Reviewed by Dale Whitehouse]

Reviewed by: spinali
Date: 12/08/1999

Clarinet-playing, gin fizz-drinking cop Tequila (Chow Yun-Fat) is a grizzled cop who nearly unravels an undercover operation to battle a gang of gun-runners. Woefully underused Theresa Mo plays Tequila's on-again, off-again cop girlfriend, and Jackie Cheung is the ruthless undercover man. The final fight sequence at a hospital has been compared to the firebombing of Dresden. At one point, Chow Yun-Fat shoots, and two villains drop.


[Reviewed by Steve Spinali]

Reviewer Score: 8