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Hard Boiled
   |     review    |     awards     |     availability     |   


Chow Yun-Fat and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai in Hard Boiled
Chinese: 辣手神探  
Year: 1992
Director: John Woo
Action: Philip Kwok Chun-Fung
Cast: Chow Yun-Fat, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Teresa Mo Sun-Kwan, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Philip Chan Yan-Kin, Bowie Lam Bo-Yi, Philip Kwok Chun-Fung, Kwan Hoi-San, Stephen Tung Wai, John Woo, Bobby AuYeung Chun-Wah, Lau Kong, Lo Meng, Michael Dinga
The Skinny: Reviewing this film is useless. As everybody knows, Hard Boiled rocks.
 
Review
by Kozo:

Note: The following is not a review. It's more of a fan's personal rant. 

If you're reading these words and you haven't seen this film then you've obviously happened upon this website by accident. Please, return to your search engine and continue looking for whatever it was you were looking for, because if you've never seen Hard Boiled then you weren't looking for this website. 

What, you need a synopsis? Here we go: this vintage John Woo action flick pits top Hong Kong actors Chow Yun-Fat and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai against evil bastard Anthony Wong and his army of bad guys. Chow Yun-Fat is Tequila, the cop who "breaks all the rules." His mirror is Tony Leung Chiu-Wai as triad assassin Tony, who's secretly an undercover cop disillusioned by his double life. Anthony Wong is Johnny, an evil bad guy who's evil because it serves the film's plot. Teresa Mo is Tequila's superior officer/love interest, who really plays no part other than to be a female in a testosterone homoerotic male action-fest. And John Woo shows up onscreen as a bartender who is the Hong Kong reincarnation of Yoda.

That's the set-up. There's also some deal involving illegal arms and rival triad gangs, and Tony's identity crisis over being a cop/triad guy. All that standard cop/triad stuff is set up in the first sixty minutes. After that, we get sixty minutes of the MOST INSANE BLAZING TWO-GUN ACTION YOU'LL EVER SEE. Yes, our respect for this film is so great that we must resort to capital letters like a newsgroup newbie to get our point across.

Not to say that Hard Boiled is a perfect movie. Nothing could be further from the truth. The film suffers in its sixty-minute exposition opening, as the conflicts and characters smack of your standard genre types. The dialogue is sometimes cheesy and given to undue existential metaphor that sounds simply terrible when dubbed into English. It's not even John Woo's best film, as it lacks the emotional resonance of The Killer or the powerful nihilism of Bullet in the Head.

But it's got action. What makes Hard Boiled a genre-defining film is the sheer insanity and theatrical showmanship that the filmmakers bring to the table. The action in Hard Boiled is simply some of the most amazing stuff you'll ever see in an action film. It's incredibly staged, over-the-top balletic action that has probably never been equalled onscreen. Also, the acting is top-notch. Chow Yun-Fat is his usual charismatic self, but Tony Leung Chiu-Wai runs away with the picture. His performance adds weight to a genre that is, in its usual form, weightless and without consequence. 

There's not much else to say. I saw Hard Boiled in 1993, and was an immediate convert. Probably everybody who reads these words has already seen Hard Boiled. There was once a time when very few people stateside had seen the film, and those who had were rabid fans of it. That day is over, as John Woo has become some sort of renowned action god and Chow Yun-Fat is beloved by people across America. Tony Leung Chiu-Wai has won a Best Actor trophy at the Cannes Film Festival and three Best Actor Hong Kong Film Awards since. Many fans have seen more Hong Kong action films and lamented that they simply aren't as good as Hard Boiled. And they're right. They just don't make 'em like they're used to. (Kozo 2002)

 
Awards: 12th Annual Hong Kong Film Awards
Winner - Best Editing (John Woo, David Wu Dai-Wai, Hai Kit Wai Ah Chik)
Nomination - Best Supporting Actor (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai)
 
 

DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Mei Ah Laser
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English, Chinese, Japanese Subtitles

 
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image courtesy of Mei Ah Laser Disc Co., Ltd.

   
 
 
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