Hard Boiled: a classic cops Vs Triads flick by John Woo, arguably at his peak. This is almost always cited as one of the best action films ever made, and with good reason. The bloodshed is so, so stylish and cool: slow-motion, intricate and technical. The action is completely mesmerising in places with explosions, bullets, bodies, weapons and debris all dancing around the frame. This is the closest thing to an action-ballet you’ll see, with long swooping shots, that make the even the most intricate of scenes seem effortless. It also has a real cinematic quality for the most part, with brilliant camera work jumping out in places – peaking with a meticulous 2 1/2 minute single-shot through hospital corridors and lifts, like a shoot-em-up game. The story is pretty standard – fallen colleague, hostage situations and undercover cops – but Woo avoids cliché by putting 90% of the focus on the action. There are some minor downsides to Hard Boiled; the hospital siege goes on for far too long (well over 40 minutes), The 1980s synth soundtrack is incredibly out of date and there’s a bizarro Jazz motif throughout. It’s also the only foreign film I deliberately watch with English dubs because the original audio is in worse synch than the voiceovers. All in, Hard Boiled is the definitive action film that takes all the best parts of a tired genre and makes them great again, and so much more watchable.
Absolutely classic John Woo action. This might be better than even “The Killer.” I picked it up a few years back on DVD and often show it to friends who are skeptical of Woo, having only seen his Hollywood work. I’ve heard his epic “Red Cliff” from 2008 is also exceptional.
Hard Boiled is the bomb, everytime someone brings it up it reminds me how long it has been since I’ve watched it. Gotta make time one of these days! Nice review!
@Stu Red Cliff is pretty good, the action is especially good. Watch the HK version if you have time, it’s about 5 hours but worth it overall.
My favourite thing is how everything gets blown up or shot to pieces. Windows, modes of transport, inanimate objects, walls, beds, pipes, good guys, bad guys, civilians. It’s just total carnage. Also love the mentally ridiculous “impotence” dialogue at the end… so, so, so wrong and ridiculous.
Will also hunt downa copy of Red Cluff – Blu Ray’s supposed to be immense.