Lat sau san taam (Hard-Boiled) Reviews
Powerful and punchy, whilst 'The Killer' is the best of action films, the title for best action sequences ever, with extremely close competition from 'Seven Samurai' must go to this wonderful piece of cinema.
Chow Yun Fat returns with Woo, this time as a cop, who following the death of his partner, wants revenge on the Triad gang who killed him. He teams up with Tony Leung, in his best screen role, apart from 'Bullet in the Head', an undercover cop who is more in tune with the Triads than his police allegiance.
'Hard Boiled' doesn't pretend to be a deep journey into certain themes, or a mysterious suspense story. It is an action film through and through with all the usual heroic bloodshed ideas and tone. But it still explodes like fireworks and is a great film to watch.
Hollywood should sulk in shame at their level of action, compared to this import from the Hong Kong masters John Woo and Chow Yun Fat. Brilliant, stylised as always, brutal as always, honest as always, 'Hard Boiled' is a racing and bold affair.
A tough-as-nails cop teams up with an undercover agent to shut down a sinister mobster and his crew.
A maverick Hong Kong detective is on the trail of some gun-running Triads, and gets mixed up with a dangerously unstable undercover cop who has infiltrated the mobsters.
This is a love-it-or-loathe-it type of picture. Whilst the plot may be a little thin and the visuals occasionally veer wildly into pretension, this is undoubtedly the most stylish bullet-festival ever committed to celluloid. It has three stunning set-pieces; a shootout in a dim-sum restaurant, a shootout in a warehouse and an, er, shootout in a hospital. The hospital sequence, which lasts nearly an hour, is simply an amazing piece of action choreography, which tops anything done before or since. In one single two-and-a-half-minute tracking shot alone, Yun-Fat and Leung race down endless corridors, take a ride in an elevator, waste twenty-eight different bad guys along the way and act out a dramatic scene whilst doing it, stunning. Woo (who has an unbilled bit as a bartender) has an incredible eye for action, aided by top-notch stuntwork from Kwok, who also plays the aptly-named chief henchman, Mad Dog. Wang Wing-Heng's zippy, fluid camera-work and the groovy keyboard score by Michael Gibbs round off the perfect Cantonese gangster movie. Somehow, amid all the chaos, Yun-Fat and particularly Leung manage to lend some dramatic pathos to their roles. It's asking a lot of an actor, surrounded by villainous henchman in a burning hospital, to hold a shotgun in one hand and a baby in the other and sing it a rap lullaby, but Yun-Fat pulls it off!
The level of action rivals that of Woo's masterpiece The Killer, but this film might be a bit more ballsy and intense...and that's really saying something. What's keeping it from a full 5 though is that the story is not as strong and a little hard to follow at times, (it's kind of inconsequential anyways) and it doesn't have quite the emotional weight that makes the action and mayhem have greater resonance.
The casting is decent and the performances are also not bad, but seem slightly lacking...maybe the thin plot has something to do with that? I mean, we do care about the characters, but maybe not as much as we should. There's some amazing action setpieces, and, even though this is hard for me to say, I think my favorite might be the long take sequence during one of the many shootouts in the hospital.
Many films and basically every first person shooter video game released since 1992 owe a great deal to this film, and, though it is slightly flawed, it is still one of the greatest orchestrated bullet fests in the history of cinema.
Crowds of people are gunned down without explanation and the smallest things explode for little or no reason. The bad guys are massively exaggerated cutthroat caricatures and the good guys never miss. Scenes of Fat and Leung running down corridors are inexplicably shot in slow motion. And, for all of these reasons, it is amazing. It's fast, it's exciting, and it never lets up.
Hard Boiled is loud, exciting, and thanks to quite terrible dubbing and a ludicrous early 90's soundtrack, often unintentionally hilarious. It is a film that places entertainment firmly ahead of plausibility and logic, and is quite frankly awesome for it.
The gunplay and stunts really are remarkable. Shotgun blasts explode like rockets. No one gets shot only once, usually it's 8 or more times. Slo-motion is used in such a cool way, that it makes the very idea of it fresh again. Don't let the subtitles keep you from this action classic.