Hard Boiled Movie Review

Way back when, before John Woo was making shoot-em-ups Stateside, before Hong Kong became property of China once again, and before Chow Yun-Fat tried to prove to the world that he knows how to speak English with the boring The Replacement Killers, we were granted a really cool cult-classic action flick named Hard Boiled.

This flick, probably one of the most violent and definitely one of the most tense action flicks ever done, concerns Tequila (Chow Yun-Fat), a haunted superman of a cop who hangs out at a Jazz bar (run by John Woo) by night and guns down gun runners by day. Like every good guy in John Woo flicks, Tequila is untouchable. Early on, the superintendent of the CID says "Give him one gun, and he's superman, give him two, and he's God." Tequila's girlfriend, Teresa (Teresa Mo) is getting white roses (a motif that shows up later in the "Once a Thief" series) that contain encoded messages from an informant in the triads. This informant, Tony (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) faces the facts that he is beginning to forget whether he is a cop or a gangster.... And all of that is before his world begins to get very confusing.

As the gun running case begins to crack around Tony, Tequila, and Teresa, there are several impressive gun battles, trademark John Woo slow-motion, some halfway decent character development, and an interesting bit about paper cranes. Although Hard Boiled is fully devoid of martial arts, it is still the paragon of gun battles and action intensity. And, although you can easily find a dubbed version, the lips out of sync will make you sit back and hate the movie instead of fully appreciating it as a great action flick.

Hard Boiled faces one classic weakness as a film: it is completely unable to develop Tequila into a character. Tequila is not Tequila. He is Chow Yun-Fat, the Asian Arnold. We know he's a good guy, we love his action flicks, but his characters are all cardboard cut outs with nothing more behind him. Were it not for the fact that Tony is an extensively developed character and that the action in this flick really kicks ass, it would just be another dumb action flick that would lose nothing in the dubbing process because it had nothing to lose.

But instead of heading down this road, Hard Boiled takes a turn for the better. It excels in action, does moderately well (Tequila notwithstanding) as far as characters are, and stylistically rules. It's a great flick... if only for the fact that action wise, this is the movie to watch.

Aka Lashou Shentan.


Comments

Hard Boiled Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: R, 1992

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