Director: John Woo
Genre(s): Action, Crime, Thriller
Runtime: 128 minutes
MPAA Rating: R
Director John Woo’s Hard Boiled, originally titled “Lat Sau San Taam,” is known almost solely for one thing: its gratuitous quantity of action. There’s so much shoot-’em-up that the plot about Hong Kong police officer “Tequila” Yuen (Chow Yun-Fat) taking on an army of bloodthirsty gun-runners barely even registers. This is a film of little substance…it’s almost entirely style…but what style!
The action sequences in Hard Boiled are nothing short of breathtaking, being some of the finest I’ve ever seen. It’s a true ballet of bullets, with elaborate “gun-fu” scenes breaking out every few minutes. The body count of the picture is astronomical, and it looks like the actors and stuntpeople are in real danger most of the time, with squibs constantly going off and debris, vehicles, flames, and people flying all over the screen.
What holds back Hard Boiled from masterpiece status is its story. It’s nothing more than a thin, clichéd excuse for relentless physical mayhem. You’ve seen its elements before in countless gangster and cop films, so you’re not always as emotionally invested in the carnage as you’d like. Fortunately, there’s so much gunplay that firearms do the talking far more often than mouths do.
Hard Boiled is in the running for the honor of the most action-packed flick in cinema history. This hyper-violent crime-thriller (which has a good musical score by Michael Gibbs) is so chockful of fighting that it will really only appeal to the most hard-core of fans of the action genre. Many audience members will be turned off by the lack of a strong central plot and the wildly unrealistic and acrobatic combat. Sure, The Killer (1989) may be better, but this one still works wonders for those who know what they’re in for.
My rating is 8 outta 10.