Bullet in the Head (1990)
Reviewed by: dragyn on 2001-02-18
Summary: John Woo's Vietnam
John Woo's "Bullet in the Head" stands alone as the most harrowing war movie I have ever seen; it's even more disturbing that Michael Cimino's "Deer Hunter", from which it borrows many elements, and "Apocalypse Now".

Woo's tale begins with three naive young men in Hong Kong, played by Tony Leung, Jackie Cheung, and Waise Lee. We are shown the strong bond between these men very clearly, with lots of trademark slo-mo shots of them laughing and playing togather, until they become like brothers in our minds - a bond which seemes unbreakable.

From the relative peace of Hong Kong, the three are plunged headlong into the shocking, horrifying heart of Saigon in 1967. We get a strong sense that they are young and inexperienced enough to almost believe that they can not be harmed by the violence that surrounds them - that they are indestructable.

But as the intense, brutal war seeps into them, they begin to change, and to gradually turn agaisnt one another in the ultimate destruction of human nature. We are shown all the same cliched visions of war that every other war film has used: prison camps, death, torture. But here. Woo hiehgtens the experience for the watcher by showing us very planly exactly how each terrible event effects the three central characters.

The whole movie is so emotionall powerful because we are shown the destruction of war not through the decemation of millions of faceless victims, but through three characters who we come to car about.

Woo almost had a mental breakdown when making this movie, apparently. He went on to make the superbly silly "Once A Thief" as an antidote.

Reviewer Score: 10