Lat sau san taam (Hard-Boiled) Reviews
This would be Woo's last film in Hong Kong before heading to Hollywood to make action pictures here. Although, at times "Hard Boiled" plays out like a first person shooter video game where unnammed gangmembers appear out of nowhere only to be killed by the good guys, this may be Woo's best film. It builds more of a story than 1989's "The Killer." And like "The Killer," the movie takes many cues from Jean-Pierre Melville's "Le Samourai" as well as American cop films like "Dirty Harry" and "Bullitt."
This film definitely glorifies the police and show their regard for human life as that is contrasted with the triad's disregard for anyone and everyone that stands in their way, regardless of age or their physical condition.
Overall, this film is one of the greates action films of the late 1980's to early 1990's and it's no wonder Hollywood wanted John Woo.
I remember thinking that this movie was amazing when I first watched it, in the early 90's, because of the great action at the end and the coolness of Chow Yun-Fat but I must admit, it does look a bit dated now. The soundtrack is awful throughout the movie and the gun action seemed a bit messy and over exaggerated. Anyway, this movie is about a Hong Kong cop, Officer "Tequila" Yuen (Chow Yun-Fat), who attempts to arrest a group of gun smugglers in a tea house with his partner, Benny (Bowie Lam). During an epic shootout, Benny is killed and many of the officers are badly wounded so Tequila goes on a mission to kill the gang who ambushed there operation. Whilst seeking revenge for his partner, Tequila sets out to kill the gangster who sent out his henchmen to ambush the deal but Tequila's boss, Pang (Philips Chan) wants the gangster alive so he can testify. While all of that commotion is happening, a high ranking assassin, Alan (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai), works for a triad boss, Uncle Hoi but when Alan is approached by a rival gang leader, Johnny Wong (Anthony Wong) to join his gang because of his impressive gun skills, Alan turns against Hoi and they plan to raid one of Hoi's warehouses. During the raid, Wongs henchmen kill most of Hoi's workers and he demands Alan to kill Wong who is called to the scene. Because of his loyalty to his new boss, Alan kills Hoi and he's left alone with his thoughts while Wong departs. Tequila watches the whole alteration and he attempts to kill Alan but he runs out of ammo and to his surprise, Alan spares his life. Tequila is then told by Pang, that Alan is an undercover officer so they join forces to take-down Wong, while he still is undercover. Tequila's informant, Foxy (Tung Wei) gets fatally injured by Wongs henchmen and Alan shoots Foxy to show his loyalty to Wong but he knows that the shot wouldn't kill him because he gave him a lighter, which he put in his breast pocket. Foxy then tells Tequila about the whole alteration and Tequila takes Foxy to the nearby hospital because of his fatal wounds. When Wong finds out that Foxy is still alive, he sends his henchmen to the hospital to kill Foxy but Alan and Tequila are there to protect him. Whilst fighting against Wongs henchmen, Tequila and Alan come across a secret passage which leads to Wongs arsenal, which they use to defend themselves. Wong then takes the patients and police officers hostage and after killing many of them, without any remorse, Pang and his officers get involved to try and free some of the babies in the maternity ward. Tequila helps to save the babies and the hostages while Alan goes head to head with Wongs head henchman. Wong then plants bombs around the hospital, so Tequila has to fight against time to save the last baby. When Wong starts to murder some more of the patients, his head henchman decides to turns his gun on Wong because he's against killing innocent people but he runs out of ammo and is killed by Wong on the spot. While the building is exploding, Wong comes out of the hospital, holding Alan at gunpoint and Wong tries to humiliate Tequila in front of all of his fellow officers but Alan isn't having any of it and he puts up a struggle with Wong and shoots himself through the belly, giving Tequila enough time to kill him. Once again, it's another detailed storyline with loads of bullets flying throughout the movie but the whole look and feel of the film was a bit dated. I really liked Chow Yun-Fat's character because of his no fear, one man army attitude but the gun action is a bit far fetched and I personally would have enjoyed it more, if it wasn't 2 hours long. Watchable!
This movie was John Woo's last release in his native country before he hit the Western market with Hard Target with Jean Claude Van Damme. Its the last movie that he made with Chow Yun-Fat, after a successful run of movies together, which include A Better Tomorrow I & II, the Killer and Once A Thief and I hope they come together again, before Woo decides to retire. Anyway, the signature gun action from Woo is definitely what made this a hit in the early 90's but I was expecting more the second time around.
Worldwide Gross: HK$19.7million
I recommend this movie to people who are into their action/crime/drama's starring Chow Yun-Fat, Tony Chiu Wai Leung, Teresa Mo and Philip Chan. 4/10
Delivering on the promises of a John Woo film, Hard Boiled delivers plenty of action. But this is both for better and for worse. When I say for worse, I mean that there is a sense of the film being heavy on action and too short on pacing sensibility.
It's hard to complain about the action in Hard Boiled becauuse the quality of it is purely magnificent, but considering that the film runs for a total of 128 minutes, there is a lot of it to take in. The manic energy of the action scenes can be a little overwhelming at times, but that's not really the problem. The fault in Hard Boiled lies in the fact that it goes between bursts of energy-rich action and then extended sequences of dialogue-laden plot building. The screenplay isn't bad because some of the characters and situations are interesting, but the fact that Hard Boiled goes between throwing action at viewers and then pulling back to styysh attempts to mimic the visual style of neo-noir cinema. The oscillation can be a little much at times, jarring the viewer. And the slower scenes of the film do not stand up in comparison to the powerful action scenes. There is a sense that the actors are determined to work with their characters, but the screenplay doesn't precisely give them many innovative roles to work with. And I couldnt' even find a humourous edge in the story, so I felt like the tone of the film was a bit heavy. In all essence, Hard Boiled is a remorselessly serious film which is packed to the brim with explosions, shootouts and blood that reinforces this. But the sequences that have to reinforce this notion with talking instead of violence do not effectively hold up to the same standard.
The success of Hardboiled is constantly predicated on the stylish nature of the film. And though the scenery of the film is nice, it more importantly plays a key role in providing powerful situations for the action to unfold in. And the action is fast like an old Kung Fu movie, and yet not the slightest bit cheap or unconvincing. In actuality, it comes off as feeling very legitimate with powerful production values despite the film being a low-budget piece. All the money is clearly diverted into creating powerful action, and it shows off very well because the excitement is undeniable. The stunts are remarkable, and the visual style of the film works to up the scale of them very easily.
There is a creative use of close tracking shots, and they go on for an extended period of time with minimal editing which proves to be an extensive boost to the credibility of the choreography. The extensive shots in Hard Boiled depict the actors doing all their own stunts with extremely fast intense dedication to the mood of the film without having their efforts buried under editing. But even then, the editing knows how to enhance the feature at times. John Woo tends to have a habit of using slow motion too much in some of his Ameican action films. In Hard Boiled, it is never a problem. Staying true to what fan have come to expect from him, John Woo packs Hard Boiled full of fast-paced action scenes which use a sporadic touch of slow-motion to emphasize the extent of graphic involvement from the cast and just how high-profile John Woo envisions all the explosions and shootouts as being. There is a sense that occasionally the use of slow motion can disrupt the intent to create a massive rush, but the superior elements of the action stand above the lesser elements of them. One of the other positive aspects of the action is that the overall scope of the film is elevated when the cinematography constantly takes a wide view of everything which gives viewers an open perspective of the action scenes, depicting everyone involved within a single frame. This is one of the most impressive visual elements of the film, and the brutal level of blood is another factor ensuring that there is striking imagery in the film. And ultimately, the action is exhilarating and creative enough to the point that it glamourizes the efforts of the police officers in the narrative just as John Woo intended while also using violence to create a rich atmosphere. And when the film comes to an end, the effect of the atmosphere is resolved with a sense that the main characters survived at the cost of so many other lives. This is a grim sentiment, and it just goes to show how the action helps to drive the narrative.
And beneath the style of the film, Chow-Yum Fat delivers a standout performance. Chow-Yum Fat is a brilliant protagonist in Hard Boiled. Embodying the title of the film, Chow-Yum Fat is able to capture a sophisticated and edgy police officer with determination and an edge within him. And when it comes time for him to unleash that edge, his movements are bold and swift which show him darting through the stunts of the film with relentless passion. He is very engaged with every facet of the role, both internally and on a surface level so that he can actively bring out the essence of ambition within the character and divert it into his physical energy without problem. Chow-Yum Fat packs a mean punch in Hard Boiled, and he is able to do so without ever removing the professional nature of the character,
So Hard Boiled may shake viewers with its oscillation between the fast paced action genre and the more slow, dialogue heavy neo-noir elements of the feature, but John Woo's insistence on delivering the greatest action possible and chow-Yum Fat's ability to rise to that same challenge ensures that the film is packed with unforgettable action scenes of the highest voltage.
Gun fights were over the top and gorgeous, glorious bullet-fire ballets and explosions fill the screen in this "gun fu" classic.
From start to finish, you'll love it.
The film is a basic cop vs baddies movies, a hardboiled cop named Tequila, (Chow Yun Fat) teams up with undercover Triad hitman Alan (Tong Leung) in order to take down some weapons dealers. The result is tons of awesome gunplay, violence, and just a bit of character development to top it all off.
You notice small details in multiple viewings. The character Alan just wants to be a normal uniform wearing cop, but got roped into doing dirty work while undercover. For his final battle against the hordes of villains, Alan puts on a cop's uniform to represent what he has always wanted to do.
Tequila on the other hand supposedly used to be more sensitive back in his cadet days, but dealing with violent criminals has made him harder. Both work off each other well, for a bit of a buddy angle in between all the shooting.
Anthony Wong gets to ham it up as a despicable villain who kills innocent people. He gets into his role quite menacingly well and proves to be a fearful yet cunning baddie.
Full of gory gunplay and tons of style, Hardboiled is arguably John Woo's best action movie. Its one of the quintessential action films, like the Hong Kong equivalent to Die Hard.
Hard Boiled contains every signature John Woo-ism and has some of the best gun play to ever see the big screen.
This is just before Woo came to the US to direct such films as Hard Target starring Van Damme and Face/Off starring Travolta and Cage.
I personally think this is his crowning achievement and while I do enjoy a large amount of the films from John Woo, none of them have really come close to containing the stylish action sequences found in Hard Boiled.
And for some reason I keep typing John Wood :P