I stand by my claim that Hard Boiled is possibly the greatest action film ever made. It is certainly one of the best ever to come out of Hong Kong. I first saw this many years ago back in 1999. I caught it late one night on TV and this film got me into Asian cinema. At the time I had never seen anything like it, it was so over the top and ridiculous and I loved every minute of it.
The story follows Detective Tequila Yuen, as he investigates a ring of arms selling Triads. After a ad shoot out during a sting operation in a Hong Kong tea house leaves his partner dead, Tequila will stop at nothing to bring down the organization responsible for the arms trading. Meanwhile Alan, a mid level Triad enforcer, is offered an opportunity with a rival Triad that may be too good to turn down.
Wat makes Hard Boiled so outstanding as an action film is the direction by John Woo. This is the culmination of everything he had learned making action films before 1992 and was meant to be a send off to fan before he moved to Hollywood. Having seen many of his earlier movies this is clear to see. The level of polish on everything is so high and there are all the trade marks you expect, slow-mo birds, slow-mo diving, two guns and a huge body count. There are many ridiculous elements and very rarely does anyone reload their guns, but it just does not matter as everything is done with such style you don't care and just want to see more guns and shooting to see what could possibly happen next. Hard Boiled also contains a solid one cut action scene when once you notice it is all one take you appreciate it even more.
Chow Yun Fat also cements his position as the coolest man in existence with this film, his performance as Tequila is so smooth it explains why he dives over everything as he just can't get any purchase. He is better at the action scenes than anyone in the Hollywood action films with the exception of Schwarzenegger. His previous efforts show he is a good actor and while many people prefer The Killer he is best in this. He brigs emotion to the character during the quieter moments and copes with the drama bringing real weight to the role. He is charming, charismatic, deadly and cool throughout.
The supporting cast are all great, Tony Leung is perfect as Alan and is a good alternative character to interact with Tequila and he holds his own in Chow Yun Fat's presence. Even John Woo's cameo is god, and the villain is appropriately sinister played by Antony Wong. I found that the only weak performance was from Teresa Mo but she is not in the film enough to really make an impression either way.
The fight choreography is the real star here though. Never have I ever seen another film with a gun fight that even comes close to what is on display here. This is the most intricate mayhem ever put on screen. Everything is thrown in to this film and so many extras are running around that it must have been a nightmare to shoot. From the opening scene in the tea house you get an over the top intricate shoot out and it just gets crazier from there.
While I love the film I need to mention that at times this film is stupid and may be hard to watch by some people. People do get shot repeatedly only to continue walking around and seeming to be fine. The story is a bi weak at times and some parts are starting to look dated due to old lookig computers and other things that have changed in the past ten years, like the use of phone boxes.
In conclusion if you love action films and have not seen this then you are in for a treat, you can see where every Hollywood action style came from and the spectacle is just amazing to watch. I cannot recommend this enough, just watch and enjoy.