Friday, September 5, 2008

Hard Boiled

Lat sau san taam; action, Hong Kong/China, 1992; D: John Woo, S: Chow Yun-Fat, Tony Leung, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Teresa Mo

Hong Kong. Police officer Yuen, nicknamed Tequila, tries to expose criminals who smuggle arms. During a raid, his partner is killed which affects him deeply. The boss of the smugglers is the so called Uncle Hoi, but he gets killed by his pupils Johnny and Alan who take over his place. Yuen attacks them in another raid and discovers Alan is actually an undercover cop. He and Alan discover the weapons are hidden under a hospital, so they call the police to surround the building. After a long siege, Johnny kills Alan, but Yuen kills him.

"Hard Boiled", the last Hong Kong film by director John Woo before he left to work in America, is a truly quality made action thriller and - according to many - one of his 2-3 best films. The first half is not anything special because the action sequences are mildly choreographed while the plot is one sided. Still, the second half of this cult film is virtuoso directed: the almost 40 minutes long finale in which criminals start a siege of a hospital where they were hiding their weapons (!) offers more action than five Schwarzenegger movies put together. The thing that stands out the most is the 3 minute long scene where police officers Yuen and Alan run through the hospital corridors and shoot at the gangsters, as well as the bizarre moment where Yuen holds a baby in his arms and shoots at the enemies! Still, Woo copes very well with melancholy and ethics, which makes him superior to other action garbage.


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