For five years, film critic Scott Tobias compiled "The New Cult Canon" in a regular column for The A.V. Club…
As A Cop, He Has Brains, Brawn, And An Instinct To Kill
John Woo’s Hard Boiled tells the story of jaded detective “Tequila” Yuen (played with controlled fury by Chow Yun-fat). Woo’s dizzying odyssey through the world of Hong Kong Triads, undercover agents, and frenzied police raids culminates unforgettably in the breathless hospital sequence.
The Rouge Cop and the Undercover Cop up against some gangster motherfuckers in John Woo's blueprint on how to make the motherfucker of all motherfuckin' action movies. The Jazz Club. The paperboy. The fuckin' birds at the teahouse. The first time Tequila shoots 2 guns at once. Automatic fuckin' weapons. Staircase ownage. Tequila's toothpick. White as a ghost. A chat with JW. High-tech computers. The last book your fuckin' ass will ever read. Pretty-pretty-oh-so-fuckin'-pretty flowers. Never trust an icky eel. Anthony Wong's hair. Fishin'. The impossible question: Who's a badder badass motherfucker; Mad Dog from Hard Boiled or Mad Dog from The Raid? Motorcycle madness. A grand fuckin' entrance. A Zippo. Paper cranes. Fun on a boat. Fuckin' Foxy. Mad…
An absolutely ballistic, no-holds-barred, over-the-top yet purely unadulterated action extravaganza to come out from Hong Kong during the the early 90s, Hard Boiled takes action in cinema to a whole new level with its heart-pounding & jaw-dropping sequences and cements John Woo's reputation as the most influential director when it comes to action filmmaking.
The story of Hard Boiled concerns two ace cops; one is a tough-as-nails detective in his department while the other one is working as an undercover agent & has risen sharply in the underworld over the years. The plot covers their initial friction with each other followed by a mutual partnership as the two eventually team up to take down & wipe out Hong Kong's most ruthless mobster & his…
If you read the script of Hard Boiled, you will probably be disappointed as it might sound like a complete action turd, but seeing John Woo giving life to his own screenplay is like a religious experience, it's as if Mr. God had created him specifically to create his own action movies.
This is a film that shows how good John Woo was in his own golden age - before he decided to create films only to increase his bank account -, when he was able to turn average melodramatic stories into purely 'artistic works', when his mediocre fatalist storylines did not interfere with the shootings, when the stylized violence was always at the service of the story itself.
From the opening scene of the rain covered, neon lit streets of the city, superimposed over Chow Yun-Fat sweating, drinking a slammer and playing clarinet in a dark jazz club, we can see that this film matches its title perfectly. This is a Hard-Boiled police story in the grand tradition of Harry Callaghan, Popeye Doyle and Frank Bullitt. Everything is black and white, the hero does what needs to be done to save the day and the brass at City Hall don't like it they can swivel. In fact Chow Yun-Fat's character, Tequila Yuen, seems to contain every cop cliché there is: matchstick chewing renegade cop, putting himself in the mind of the killer, eating around dead bodies. That's okay…
Film #24 of Project 90
”Birthdays aren't important when you don't have a real identity.”
Action. No child play. No CGI. Pure, classic and true action. That’s what you’ll find in John Woo’s Hard Boiled. Add the glamorous look of neon lights, the craziness of Hong Kong mafia and the incredible power of jazz to the perfectly choreographed action scenes and then you’ll have a film which will push your adrenaline glands to the limits. John Woo is a master when it comes to creating poetic and aesthetically wonderful action scenes, just look at the way characters are moving around, the way camera follows them, the way bullets rip through the air, the way they ruin everything and most importantly…
Following several pictures focusing on the gangster side of crime and it's glamorisation, Hong Kong action supremo John Woo wanted Hard Boiled to be a story about cops, the other side of the fence, and sought to create a Chinese character comparable to the moody, intense yet charismatic Dirty Harry-esque characters portrayed in Hollywood by such luminaries as Clint Eastwood & Steve McQueen. He achieves that neatly in Chow Yun-Fat's indomitable Inspector 'Tequila' Yuen, creating almost instantly in him an action star who deserves to sit on a par with any number of Bullitt's or John McClane's - the tough, intense yet louche centre of an, indeed, hard boiled action spectacular which doubles as a meditation on being a lawman at…
Bad news gun-fu form the master Woo.
In terms of action filmmaking, this film is unparalleled. It's an absolute masterclass in well staged, easy to follow, but incredibly exciting action.
Here's why: www.youtube.com/watch?v=geFtGOf2ktM
This is insane action. You could see a lot of the influence that both Michael Bay and Edgar Wright have taken from this film.
Holy. Fucking. Shit. This film is balls to the wall action. I am still buzzing off it.
I guess John Woo figured this might be his last chance before going to America to try and kill Chow Yun Fat off once and for all and still be able to call it an 'on set accident'.
Almost the perfect action film. Brilliant shot-outs and very entertaining.
All I remember about this movie was some guy getting shot through the eyeball and a baby putting out a fire with its urine. And a LOT of explosions.
Not my favorite of Woo's films. It's a bit lighter on some of the themes that make his work so interesting (before his journey to Hollywood). It's lighter on those themes though because it's heavier on action, and the action is incredible in this one. The extended hospital-set action climax is easily 1/4 of the running time of the entire film, and that's far from a bad thing. It's not just one long action scene, it's a series of escalating action scenes interwoven with real plot and character development.
(Original review outdated, re-evaluation required at later date)
Combined the average ratings (Critic's & Users) from IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and Letterboxd, and then weighted and tweaked the results…
The entire Criterion collection organized by spine number.
I don't know why I did this.
Number I've Seen: 196/776 (25%)