Sunday, September 21, 2008

Hard Boiled (1992)

Why didn't anybody tell me that I've been missing out on an entire other perspective of the 80's and 90's action genre? On my friend Justin's advice, I bumped Hard Boiled, a John Woo classic starring Chow Yun Fat, to the top of my queue this week and the results were outstanding. A brief synopsis:

Tequila Yuen (Chow Yun Fat) is a hard-boiled cop on a mission: find those bastards that killed his partner. "Those bastards" turn out to be a bunch of gun smuggling mobsters in the middle of a gang war on the Hong Kong streets. Tequila teams up with an insider named Tony (Leung Chiu Wai) working both sides of enemy lines to uncover the mob's secret munitions stockpile. Lots of people die.

Man, cheesy jazz music framing a loner cop against the backdrop a lawless city. Amazing. John Woo makes no apologies for the civilians killed in the middle of spectacular gunfights. Nor does he shy from sub-machine guns with endless magazines and revolvers which only misfire when at point blank range with Tequila's head. The resulting film is one full of extended fight scenes with bullets flying for the duration. Generally, bad guys get six or seven shots in the chest before they go down. Further, good guys take six or seven shots before they need to go to the hospital. Hard Boiled is pure action. Ultra violent with little semblance to real life.

I think my favorite scene is the first one in the tea house. There is something really cool about all of the birdcages hanging around while good guys and bad guys exchange gunfire like its going out of style. 

It is pretty clear that the reason I like this movie is because it does a great job of taking all of the symbols and themes of the american cop action movie (Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, etc) to the extreme. The gunfights are more outrageous, the main cop is inexplicably tougher (but with a sensitive, clarinet playing side), and the cop partner relationships are as stereotypical as The Simpsons makes them out to be. Ill be sampling from the John Woo catalog for the next few weeks. Keep you eye out for more.


Justin said...

Ah yes, excellent scene. Nobody does slow motion like John Woo. Just wait for The Killer...

Matt said...

My friend Ryan, and I both agree that this movie has some of the best "pointless" action scene ever. John Woo rocks.

Brandon said...

i figured you had seen this casey.
i think this is john woo at his best. and i also believe, could be mistaken, that this film at the time set a record for "most killed" in a given sequence. i think it is the in the warehouse at like 47 or something ridiculous like that. just think that before chow yun fat was doing movies with sean michael scott he was actually in fantastic movies like this.

Casey said...

I dont know how I missed it. And I feel a little silly about it. But your comment reminds me of that scene in Hot Shots part Deux where Sheen has a body counter in the corner tallying up all the fools he caps. I think that Im going to move onto A Better Tomorrow next.