Cast: Chow Yun-fat, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Teresa Mo
Synopsis: Set in Hong Kong, Chow Yun-Fat plays a gun toting cop by the name of ‘Tequila.’ It is his mission to clear up the seedy streets of Hong Kong and save innocent babies.
I’d never seen a John Woo movie before but I was told to expect two things: guns and birds. Hard Boiled delivered both within the first 5 minutes thanks to a shoot-out in a tea house which also functions as a bird shop. If those actually exist then we seriously need to import them over to the west. Hard Boiled essentially functions as a typical action movie but I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of the story, and the fact that it wasn’t a martial arts movie was unexpected. I guess that’s a pretty good example of me being casually racist because I seem to naturally expect all Chinese or Hong Kong movies to be martial arts orientated…moving on.
The film has a lot of strengths. The first was that both Chow Yun-fat and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai put in very solid performances. I was impressed by the sensitivity Tony Leung Chiu-Wai brought to his role as an undercover cop who is forced to commit terrible acts in order to become a member of an underground crime syndicate. It added a nice element of drama to the picture. Don’t get me wrong, this is definitely an action movie; roughly 50% of the dialogue is gun shots and explosions. The drama was a nice touch though what with variety being the spice of life and all. The second strength was the creativity behind the action sequences. Seriously, some of them are just bizarre but in the best possible way. John Woo deserves some kind of award for turning a shoot-out in a maternity ward into something other than horrifying and macabre. I also wrote in my notes that the villains were good until one of them did some sort of weird scream but I really can’t remember that at this point on time. You’ll just have to take my word on it.
The only real weaknesses were the performances put in by some of the supporting cast, namely every woman in this movie. All two of them. There’s a female librarian who acts with all the gusto of a struggling actress who was cast in a bad deodorant commercial, and then there’s Teresa Mo. I wanted to like her, I really did, but she’s only there to use her feminine wiles on a team entirely composed of men. That and she had a tendency to act like she was in a bad Mexican soap opera. All she does is run around a hospital clutching newborns screaming: ‘WHAT ABOUT THE BABIES!!??’ Man, when that biological clock starts a ticking. She really didn’t need to be in the movie and she only served as a distraction the awesome shoot-out that was taking place behind her.
I don’t think that I can class this movie as ‘great’ because, to be honest, it was forgettable in a lot of ways. Having said that, Hard Boiled is a good choice if you’re in the mood for a no-nonsense action movie because the film allows you to get lost in the moment and it provides some genuine laughs.
- Peculiar and heavy handed metaphors such as blood on flour and a Union Jack at a funeral. The latter was like a touching farewell the Empire.
- The flying motorbike impalement was unnecessary but appreciated.
- All around fast paced action.
- The performances by the actresses.
- The realization that organized crime is actually a really horrible thing.
A must see for action movie fanatics. I personally think that this movie would be best suited for those who like indica strains or any strain that produces a body high. There isn’t a lot of imagery or colors that are going to blow your mind so a sativa dominant strain isn’t going to amplify the viewing experience. The film has a simple plot with a simple progression so anyone can watch it and enjoy it.