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A tough-as-nails cop teams up with an undercover agent to shut down a sinister mobster and his crew.
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Let me keep this review shorter than most of my other detailed long ones. This is a classic action film produced in Hong Kong by the master John Woo and it’s definitely one of his better works to date. When I say action, I target every meaning behind the word. This is the epitome of the action genre that puts the majority of Hollywood action films to shame.
Is there a plot? Not really, is there realism? Heck no! The guy fires hundreds of bullets without even reloading, what common sense are you talking about? But who cares about that? The lovers of the genre don't watch for the plot or for realism, what matters in action films is the intense style of violence, bullets flying and once again violence! This is an extreme action film where everyone holds a gun (or two) and fire until they die. People are everywhere, explosions, motorcycles blowing up in the air, cars exploding and bombs. It’s all there, the camera was everywhere and those slow motion scenes are just magnificent. Nothing less from John Woo’s explosive directing style.
The main leads are cool just like John Woo’s typical main leads. The acting is superb, on one hand there’s the great Chow Yun Fat that lacks recognition and on the other hand, there’s the well-known great Hong Kong star Tony Leung. It’s a dreamy powerful combination that allows John Woo to make use of the brotherhood theme that he loves so much. There’s also a nice performance from Anthony Wong as the bad guy but he falls behind compared to Yun Fat and Tony.
Watch this if:
-You love action films because this is one of the best.
-You’re looking for action entertainment.
-You like John Woo’s films (especially his HK ones).
-You like any of the cast.
Do not watch if:
-You dislike violent films because this is the essence of violence.
-You’re looking for a certain plot because there’s nothing special in this film’s story.
-You dislike the genre action.
So why does this get a 9/10 from someone who’s very cheap with his ratings? It’s because I am an action junkie and Hard Boiled is one of the best Action films ever made in the history of cinema, PERIOD.
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Rewatch value: I don't neccesarily rewatch action flicks. But I'll rewatch this one.
This was just a great action flick. The biggest mistake John Woo ever made was to come to America to make movies. His movies lacked storyline and substance here. Even the action is mundane with all the CGI effects and watery blood. It's when you see films like this do you understand why the American Hollywood community courted him in the first place. But when you compare any and I mean absolutely ANY of his Chinese flicks to his American ones, you'll understand true art and storyline when you see the Chinese films.
First off, it's easy to over use and get tired of the triad fiasco, even though the idea of a dirty cop, undercover cop, cop goes on a rampage when partner dies because of a triad member or leader---you can't help to bring yourself to watch the films because you know you'll be introduced to super cool guys. Almost superhuman. They're like the East Asian version of Batman without all the toys but awesome gun or martial arts fighting. You'll still get the rich storyline even if it's over used. Because despite all the action and honest to goodness gore/bloodletting---you are getting a worthwhile use of your 2 hours.
This film has it all. The acting is great----not even... phenomenal acting. Now, I'm a massive Tony Leung fan. But seriously...after watching ALL his films with Wong Kar Wai---I have to say that I never pictured him the action kind of guy. It's not my first time watching this film...thanks Cinemax...but every time I see clean cut and soft spoken/all around nice guy and perpetually EMO Tony Leung in an action film, my mind is blown. Why? Because he does it so damned well!!
In this he's Emo--Check, he's clean cut--Check (as far as appearance--hardly seeming disillusioned), nice guy--Check. He managed to still bring this sort of naivete, sensitivity, and alluring danger to an action packed film where he's doing a nice set of blood letting. It's very interesting to see this seemingly quandary of performance played out--because it's done so well.
Chow Yun Fat---I mean really. Are there any words? He's the king of action and just like John Woo, he should have stayed in China to do it. That's why I liked Jet Li. Jet Li realized when he got to the US he was just making stupid films. They were pawning him off like a Jackie Chan clown. Don't get me wrong....Romeo Must Die was great, but the subsequent films were crap. He went back home. Chow Yun Fat experienced the same stereotyping unfortunately. However, they recognized their status and who they are turning into a caricature they go back to China and these guys are once again making powerful films.
This oldie but goody, shows you the real skill of the Chinese actor to portrayal a dramatic role and do it well even when a film is action. Because in China they don't stereotype on skill, unlike the US. Thanks for this John Woo. Thanks for this Chow Yun Fat and Tony Leung, because I loved it.
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