Friday, 23 January 2015

Hard Boiled (1992)

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 though because he's so damn good at it.

Six minutes in and we know we're safely in the hands of an action master as the first perfectly choreographed gun battle begins in slo-mo, with guns akimbo and bodies flying all over the place. John Woo really is a master at filming gun play and making everything seem so elegant. In his world there is a grim beauty in death.

If there's one fault with the film it's Woo's usual over-reliance on slow-motion. Enough John! Leave it for the fight scenes, we don't need it in a library!

With its synth and jazz-funk score, neon, city streets, the sea, and blue lighting, I'm surprised that Michael Mann hasn't remade this yet.


Original letterboxd review

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