Iconic action film from John Woo would mark his last post handover Hong Kong film and his last Chinese action film for well over a decade. Full of memorable action set pieces this film marks a high point in production for its time period in Hong Kong. The teahouse sequence, the warehouse sequence and pretty much the entire second half of the film (the hospital shootout) are stellar.
Continuing Woo's examination into the workings of the Hong Kong criminal underworld, the divide between the lawful & the lawless, the bond between brothers in arms & the psyche of the anti-hero. While less cohesive & less satisfying than its predecessors, A Better Tomorrow & The Killer, Hard Boiled pushes the Woo aesthetic to breaking point; creating a film that redefines the possibilities of the modern action movie.
Far-fetched and yet exciting and tense. For all its plethoric blood spilling, cheesy one-liners and balletic gunfights this must be the quintessential hong kong action flick. A master class of choreography.
Whenever I watch a John Woo movie I get the feeling that it could turn into a cigarette ad at any moment, and yet that quality is what makes him so awesome. Nothing like over the top melodramatic balls to the wall action. Is there any set piece more manly and exciting than the hospital shoot out? Woo's movies expose Michael Bay for the fraud he is. This is real testosterone driven action.
I've probably never seen an action movie like this before. Every action scene is so beautifully choreographed that it's almost a ballet. It's chaos filmmaking at its most powerful and efficient. Though some small plot holes, the use of the human body in this film, in every shot, makes the difference between an average action flick and this kind of symphony of violence, broken glass, fire, blood and explosions.
It's been five years since "Hard Boiled" sparked my infatuation with the films of John Woo and the heroic bloodshed genre, and having watched it well over a hundred times since then, it still always feels like I'm seeing it for the first time. Here is an elegant film about style, balletic action, wordplay, and raw, powerful performances, with a well-played undercover drama at the center. The best of all action films.