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 Hard Boiled











Title: Hard Boiled

Classification: 18

Director: John Woo

Runtime: 122 Minutes






Welcome to the first part of what we're looking to make a regular feature here on EuroFusion. What I'll be doing is taking a look at a personal favourite movie of mine, usually the silly ones or the obscure numbers that might have passed you by. Don't consider this a review, just think of it as a nostalgic guide to movies you might want to check out some time.


So, without further ado I give you my movie of choice: Hard Boiled.


Directed by legendary action man John Woo, this film is interesting due to it being his first foray onto western cinema screens. With it, Woo got the attention of Hollywood and would later make films like Face/Off and Mission Impossible 2. For me though, Hard Boiled remains the cooler film because it's an awesome watch, but has that retro feel to a true cheesy action movie that's really died out in recent years.


The plot of the movie, for what it's worth, involves two cops played by the awesome Chow Yun Fat and Tony Leung on the case of a Hong Kong arms dealer. The twist is that Tony Leung is undercover, working on the inside within the triads in order to look for their arms cache on the island. Of course, Chow's character is not in on the secret and this leads to some complications… mostly involving him being thrown off the case a few times. OK, so the plot is kinda naff (and the writing is worse, trust me) but come on. This is John Woo! He cares little for plot. What he cares about is violence. In this case, lots and lots of it.


This film really is a no mercy kind of action movie, loads of really explosive gun battles happen in this one, each seemingly more elaborate and bizarre than the last. To give you an idea of the absurdity escalation think on this: the two cops end the film by taking on a small army of triad hired goons in a hospital. Read that again, it's quite funny.


The opening restaurant shootout in particular stands out because, along with being insanely awesome, it establishes a lot of the techniques Woo would go on to use later on in his career and make his trademarks: slow mo camera work, lots of exploding things, lots of akimbo pistols, stunt men being blown away in increasingly spring launched fashion and a lot of birds too. The scene really is a tour de force for Woo's style and it sums up why your either going to love Hard Boiled or really hate it. I know a few people who dislike Woo action movies so if you're one of them you really will not like this one. There are, admittedly, quite a lot of shots in this movie that are in slow-mo that left me thinking ‘why bother'? That and the occasional absurd use of pyrotechnics (look for a post box that bursts into flaming shards) can kinda make you wonder if it is a bit too much from time to time.


However, what I really do like about the action in this film is that it was made in the years that have become lost in the mists of time- the years before blue screens took over the action movie. These days you can watch something like The Matrix: Reloaded and get bored out of your skull at the action because its so overblown and stupid. Hard Boiled never suffers like that. Instead, it has it's feet firmly on the ground so any cool stuff going on is for real: ball of fire? Check. exploding walls? Check. Flying stunt men? Check. All this is done with mechanical equipment, explosives and disregard for personal safety. I just find it so much cooler than most modern stuff. Where's the excitement? Here!


Another aspect of this movie that I really enjoy is the cheese factor. Woo really lays it on thick with this bad boy. The highlights are mostly to do with the totally daft investigation ‘technique' used by Chow Yun Fat throughout the film. What he pretty much does is pay an informant some dough for a location of shady goings on, heads over there and kills everybody in sight. Alone. It's so great, it really is. When he isn't doing this, he's engaged in a series of increasingly cliché series of encounters in his station- all the classic cop movie things are accounted for here: station floor banter, romance with the only woman on the force, the pan shot with a guy asking another guy for stuff to be on his desk in 30. it's all here. Incredible. This film even has the two most essential elements to a ‘cop on the edge movie' in modern cinema: a white picket fence speech from the hero's soon to be doomed partner and a ‘stupid chief' who keeps throwing Chow off the case. Remarkable. It's like Woo actually had a checklist he wrote when watching a few lethal weapon movies . It seems a bit catered for western minds like that but with this much unintentional comedy gold, who really cares? Speaking of which, I'm seriously going to write to John Woo and ask him if he stole the musical score from a 70's porno.


There you have it really. For me, Hard Boiled is a great action movie. What it does well, it does really, really well and if you're anything like me you can watch it with an appreciation for the silliness and stick your tongue in the old cheek for a while before the action picks up again. Highly recommended.



















Score:


Buy Hard Boiled now at Play.com
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