Hard Boiled (Laat Sau Sen Taan) (1992)


“Give the guy a gun and he’s superman, give him two and he’s God.”

The nineties were a time of some of the greatest movies ever made; years from now movie buffs will recollect how the nineties brought about some of the greatest films in history. One of which will be “Hard Boiled.” While Woo’s crime drama may not be the greatest action movie I’ve ever seen, it sure is excellent. Plus, it’s not surprising it’s been considered a classic of the genre, and catapulted Woo as a legend. Great action movies are timeless; ‘Scarface,’ ‘Dirty Harry,’ ‘The Getaway,’ and John Woo’s action epic “Hard Boiled” has yet to show any age at all, considering it was made at the start of the nineties. Woo’s action film is a wonderful cocktail of brains and fantastic action that will  keep you glued to your seat.

Woo doesn’t just paint action sequences, he gives them a point, he makes them important to the story, take for example the climax. Woo’s film concerns a grizzled cop named Tequila. After a massive shootout during a botched heist, his partner is gunned down. Shortly after, Tequila decides to take down the syndicate himself, but discovers there’s an officer within the Triad. Now, Tequila and the officer Alan decide to team up and take down the mob once and for all. The legendary Chow Yun Fat gives an excellent performance as the conflicted and dead set Tequila who wants to destroy the gun running operation that killed his partner, but things become harder and harder as the plot progresses and people start getting killed. Woo sets up the film with a fantastic shoot out that sets the story on its path and then slows it down enough to bring us in close to the characters.

“Hard Boiled” has some of the best action sequences and shoot outs I’ve ever seen bar none, and with choreography by Phillip Kwok, the battles between officers and criminals is like ballet. With a John Woo film you aren’t always assured entertainment, but you are always guaranteed wonderful gunfights, and “Hard Boiled” has plenty, some of which will surely be talked about for days. The true beauty of Woo’s crime epic is in the character drama in which Tequila is driven to take down the triad’s come hell or high water, while the police continue receiving decoded messages from Alan through bouquet’s of roses. Tequila, in his attempts to stop the crime, is only making things more difficult for the people he works for, and the person who is on his side. The chemistry between Fat and Leung Chiu Wai is palpable and their dichotomy and conflicting philosophies on stopping crime creates excellent chemistry that most crime dramas hope to accomplish.

Meanwhile, “Hard Boiled” ends as an intense and rather edgy action film that relies on suspense to keep its audience watching, and that becomes apparent in the second half. “Hard Boiled” has one of the tensest climaxes I’ve ever seen as the triad and officers engage in a war inside a hospital. This leaves the film with a frantic and frenetic energy that unfolds into an engrossing showdown. Woo’s film is hardly just an action picture, but more a crime drama with brilliant direction, and an array of show stopping sequences. My favorite of which being the scene where Tequila shoots gun men all around him while singing to a baby in his arms; quite possibly one of the best and most nail biting sequences ever filmed. “Hard Boiled” accomplishes a lot within its time frame, and it’s an accomplishment only Woo is capable of. Now this, kids, is what we call a mother fucking action movie. “Hard Boiled” has brains, a compelling story, great performances, and action that will really have you bouncing in your seat.