Hard Boiled remains in my personal top ten action movies of all time and is not only a masterpiece of action cinema but John Woo’s finest hour.
Plot: A tough-as-nails cop teams up with an undercover agent to shut down a sinister mobster and his crew.
Review: I remember when I first watched Hard Boiled, I was genuinely shocked and blown away by the violence in it; especially during the hospital sequence in the final half hour; truly epic stuff. Widely regarded as one of the all-time great action movies, it deserves every accolade.
If there’s a cooler protagonist than the awesomely named Tequila (Chow Yun-Fat) I’ve yet to see him. But that’s not to take away from Tony Leung who is equally as great as the undercover cop Alan (Tequila’s still a better name though).
Hard Boiled has arguably the best action scenes you’ll ever see; I was debating the other day with a buddy about which is the best shoot out in it. I still think the Tea House opening is my personal favourite as it’s such a great opening scene. It establishes that Tequila is a guy who likes to do things his way and shows the consequences of his actions.
The whole finale in the hospital is a visceral and exciting set piece which lasts for about 30 minutes and just flies by; that shot of Tequila jumping out of the window as the building explodes is truly jaw-dropping.
You get emotionally involved with our two heroes and you want them to succeed against the truly evil villain Johnny Wong.
One of the more interesting aspects of Hard Boiled is the henchman Mad Dog (Philip Kwok) who at first is a complete psychopath with no redeeming features, but as the story progresses we see his conflict as his boss has no problem killing innocents in the hospital. Each character has their own story to tell and the whole movie is extremely well written.
I can’t praise John Woo highly enough and consider him one of the all-time great action movie directors; the doves, the slow-mo and the shoot-outs are all spectacular and I still really miss his presence from Hollywood today.
The score is however, a bit cheap and electronic sounding and even at the time I thought that but it hardly detracts from the film.
Overall, Hard Boiled remains in my personal top ten action movies of all time and is not only a masterpiece of action cinema but John Woo’s finest hour.