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4.3 out of 5 stars33
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on August 20, 2013
This review is for the Criterion Collection.
There was a time when everything was starting to bore me, action movies included. So when I first downloaded this movie, I was just expecting a dull, average action movie. So before going to bed, I decided to watch this movie at 1 in the morning.
Boy, was I in for a surprise! This movie was everything I was looking for, and more! It's violent, imaginative, entertaining as hell, and just downright AWESOME.
The plot: After a cat-and-mouse rivalry between them as they slowly start to realize they're fighting for the same goal, Inspector Tequila eventually teams up with undercover cop Tony to take down the gunrunning triads led by Johnny Wong, which leads to one of THE MOST MEMORABLE showdowns in a hospital--probably the longest final shootout ever filmed (a whole forty or so minutes!). The shootouts themselves are definitely among the best ever put to the big screen. This movie got me into John Woo. It's also worth owning for the shootouts alone (which take up most of the movie).
This set contains dub tracks in English and Cantonese, although I watch the English dub because it seems to add to the list of enjoyable things about this movie. It also includes trailers for every John Woo film ever made, a student film by John Woo (no English subtitles for that, though), and more! The quality of the picture and sound is good and the characters (the ones that are meant to be likeable) are likeable enough for you to care about their plight.
Overall, ***** out of *****
"Give a man a gun and he's Superman. Give him two and he's God!"
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on January 11, 2004
"Give a man a gun and he is a hero. Give him two and he is God"

Nothing can quite prepare you for the amount of bullets that are used in this film - all done to an impeccable action style that has still not been beat. If there was ever a Guinness Book of Records for the "Most bullets shot in a film" John Woo's Hard Boiled would be first place for a very long time. It is a terrible shame that this director has only been toned-down by Hollywood. There is not a hope that he would be allowed to do what he has done here with Hong Kong actors to the Hollywood cream of the crop. It seems that it is okay to have a Hong Kong Asian to shoot the hell out of everything but this same action when applied to Western culture would only shock and shame. The same can be said for the star of Hard Boiled - Chow Yun-Fat (Crouch Tiger, Hidden Dragon) who since moving to the West has fired less bullets in all his Hollywood films put together than he does in the first five minutes of this film. Does that really matter? In many ways - Yes it does. Unlike THEIR Hollywood films the gun violence here is not gratuitous. It is artistic and warrented. No one can come away from this film to say that have seen unjustified and unnecessary amounts of actions. It is all integral to the style and plot of this movie. Yes, innocent people do get mowed down in a hail of hot lead and yes the violence is bloody, but is that not what gun violence is? Here you see exactly what guns do to people. Forget Michael Moore's "Bowling for Columbine" - The true message of gun control is right here! The plot is even about the dangers of gun smuggling!
One thing for sure is that there is more gratuitous gun violence in most Hollywood productions than there is here. Here we have a hard boiled cop who is assigned to tracking down gun smugglers. He is a hard boiled cop because he knows how to use his guns. His superiors are using him to fight fire with fire. The action gets going from the word go as the hard boiled cop busts a gun dealing operation. His buddy cops and innocent people get killed in the process. He then goes to extract some revenge and put the big gun runners out of business - only problem is there are literally thousands of them he must cut down. Cue unrelenting battle sequences from start to finish all done in excellent style and slow-mo. You have not seen anything like Hard Boiled before, nor will you again. The ending in the hospital is like DIE HARD with ten thousand times more suspense.
Hard Boiled is also a wonderfully acted movie with excellent first rate action direction. The story is also coherent and good, especially for an Asian production. This is every action fans wet dream. Believe me if you have not seen Hard Boiled then it is about time that you did.
Majestic Filmmaking, not to mention John Woo's greatest film. This is the stuff of Legend with an action hero to root for.
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on October 20, 2003
This is one hell of an action movie, but I think its alittle overdone at times, the bloodless deaths in the shootouts kinda let me down but these shootouts put almost any action movie to shame. The plot Kinda went goes this, Chow yun fat (Cop) is avenging his friends death/investigating a smuggling operation, where he finds a deep insider/undercover cop (Tony Leung,the same one from bullet in the head). Thats it, besides Tequila (Chow) pissing off his superior, but from there on in its all gunfights and violence. Here you'll find Anothey Wong in a solid role as the main bad guy (he hated the role though). Chow is intensely stylish as usual, the best part is in the tea house shootout is when he slides down the rail with a toothpick in his mouth while gunning down numours bad guys. Tony Leung is actually better then Chow acting wise in his role as the undercover cop. John Woo did a pretty fine job for one of his last HK films that he directed. Even though he could have done a bit better this movie is still a great action film for you and your friends to sit back and enjoy the ride. But there is only one version available right now and its the media asia release with no special features.
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on June 25, 2002
I've been watching Hong Kong films for several years now, but til now it was mostly kung-fu oriented films. On a whim, I picked up "Hard Boiled" with Chow Yun Fat after seeing him in Crouching Tiger and taking a liking to him. I'm a big fan of explosive action films and this one is just that. If you're a fan of a lot of action, violence and explosions and want to see it stunningly choreographed, then this movie might just be for you. There is plenty of it and it is all done very well. John Woo is an excellent director and proves his skills in this film as far as the high octane action goes. My favorite scene is near the beginning when Tequila (Chow Yun Fat) is getting shot at and he slides across a table filled with flour. Excellent!
However, there was a few things I didn't like about the movie: I think the story was a little weak and a little hard to follow at times. (Keep in mind that I watched the English dub version, so the story could have lost a lot in the translation [I hate subtitles])
The dvd: The dvd is not very good. The picture is very grainy and has a lot of artifacting and scratches. The sound is low and slightly muffled. For a Hong Kong movie I guess it's not that bad, but looking at it alone, it's not very good. There are several extras to wet your whistle with though and that's always a plus.
All in all, a very enjoyable shoot'em up blood fest with the body count higher that Snoop Dogg in Columbia. 3.5 stars.
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on June 4, 2002
I had seen all of John Woo's US films (MI:2, Face Off, Broken Arrow and so on) and I needed something new to tide me over. What I chose was what must have been one of the greatest action movies I have ever seen! John Woo shows off his true skills in this excellent Hong Kong shoot'em up with of course the great performance with the legenndary Chow Yun-Fat, playing the role of rogue cop Tequila. In just one minute I was completely blown away! I couldn't keep my self from drooling while just staring in astonishment! The whole movie was everything I could ever hope for in an action flick. Endless gunfights, great choreography and Chow Yun-Fat just being one bad ..., one man army! Tequila shoots it out with Triads magnificently wheather in a restaurant, warehouse and even a hospital. This movie really shines though in it's high-octane finale in the huge hospital. Tequila and his buddy Tony (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) cleaning house side by side with Tequila mowing guys down with my personal favorite pump-action shotgun. There's also a great scene involving a human wall of hostages used by the baddies that Tequila and Tony save brilliantly! After watching it once I went right back to the beginning just to see it again because it was just so damn good! If your looking for something to just blow you right on your [rear] with classic hardcore action except no substitutes, Hard Boiled is a rare gem.
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on January 28, 2002
As viewers of this type of film, you are part of a huge and wonderful cult. The film is ultra-bloody, violent and active. It is what you'd expect from John Woo, a serious action film without the budget he later had for FACE/OFF and MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 2. Now, if you are not a big fan of these action movies, then this film will be an aggravating, mindless two hours of your life. You'll gripe that in the films world, a gun clip lasts a hundred shots before it ever needs to be changed, Every major artery can be severed and still not do someone in, and the villainous crew of seven will suddenly number in the hundreds by the end of the film.
A Chinese film, many of the subtitles are inaccurate, even as far as calling a main charcter Alan for the first half an hour and then he becomes Tony for the rest of the film (Tony is the actors real name).
But still, these films are brought here for the art of violence that John Woo does so well. The DVD has a pretty gruesome transfer and the mono soundtrack leaves a lot to be desired.
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on October 17, 2001
I used to think "What's so great about this Chow Yun Fat guy? If he's so great, why haven't I seen any of his movies?" Well, soon after I said that to myself, I saw this movie. "Oh, THAT'S why this guy is so cool." With body counts rivaling big budget war movies, "Hard Boiled" could possibly be the best embodiment of the pure action film ever made.
Right from the opening scene, the movie not only puts up a body count higher than most U.S. action films, but starts a frenzied pace and pretty much never lets up. Sure, the story can be confusing and isn't exactly award winning stuff, which isn't a trademark of the Fat man with him usually starring in action/dramas, but it's good enough to keep you held over during the few parts in between action scenes. Besides, the story isn't the main focus anyways. You could watch the movie on mute and still enjoy it, the action is so good. The first time you watch it, you're saying "My God, how many bullets can really be shot and how many people can die in one place?" but the second time you see it, you really appreciate the detail in the scene's. Every bullet shot, splinters from a box fly around, paper's fly in the air, cups break, windows shatter, a hole goes in the table, someone falls to the floor. Every bullet (And there's a lot) seems to make something happen, no matter how small a happening it is. It's some of the most artistic action I've seen filmed.
As far as the actual DVD goes, while there's not a whole ton of extras, there is commentary by John Woo, which is good. Besides, most VHS tapes I see of this movie have terrible quality pictures, so getting the DVD version is worth it.
Simply put, if you're an action fan, you will enjoy this movie, period, and every John Woo and Chow Yun Fat movie you see after it you'll expect more of this in it. Like I said earlier, this movie could be the best pure action movie ever made.
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on August 9, 2001
Let me start off by saying that my two favorite action movies are The Killer and Hard Boiled. Each movie is action packed and are both directed by John Woo. John Woo is one of the greatest directors of all time. He has made three of my favorite action movies, the two I mentioned above and Face/Off(NOT A HOCKEY MOVIE!!!). There is something about those two Hong Kong masterpieces that the American Face/Off just doesn't have. There is a certain kind of style and flare that is aparrent in both The Killer and Hard Boiled that Face/Off just couldn't acheive, although it is an amazing action movie nonetheless. As for which is better, The Killer or Hard Boiled, I can't say. They are both amazing in their own ways.
Well about Hard Boiled, it has the most action ever to be seen in one movie. That is not exactly why it is one of my favorite action movies though. The amount of action in a movie does not exactly tell you how good the movie is because of a couple reasons. The first reason is that the action may not be quality action. In this case though it definitely is quality action. Next, their maybe a lot of action, but the story may be so horrible that the film may be ruined by it. However in Hard Boiled the story is good enough to not ruin the movie. The story is not amazing or anything, but it is okay enough and involves a lot of scenes that call for lots of action which makes it watchable. The action scenes are the best part and no one does a good action scene like John Woo. A good example of John Woo's directing and a story that makes the movie almost unwatchable is M:I-2. The problem with the story in that movie was that it didn't involve enough action, but the reason the movie was saved was John Woo made every non-action scene seem more interesting than it actually was. In that movie you can clearly see his directing talents... he even turned a scene where two people were originaly going to be talking into a car chase scene! In M:I-2 though you only see his talents yearning for some action where his true talents are unleashed. This movie is the most action packed movie ever, so John Woo's talents are fully unleashed. There is almost no stunt that cannot be found in Hard Boiled and almost no scene that doesn't involve action. Hard Boiled may very well be the best action movie ever made and is definitely in the top two alongside The Killer, another John Woo acion extraveganza. I must warn people out there looking to buy this movie, if you are buying a VHS of this stay away from the subtitled, the quality of the video is much worse than the dubbed. Plus I personally would rather hear people talking than have to read what they are saying. Overall though if you have a DVD player and do not own The Killer or Hard Boiled I suggest getting the two disc John Woo collection featuring those two movies, since they are, in my opinion, the two best action movies ever made.
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on July 31, 2001
You know what I enjoy doing? I like to take friend, particularly one whose never seen a John Woo movie (besides the obvious M:I2 or Face/Off) and show them Hard Boiled. I've seen this flick quite a few times, thus showing it to a lot of friends. It changed every one of them. HB sets the standard for any action movie out there. I asked one of my changed friends about the quality of "Kiss Of The Dragon." "It was good," he said. "But it wasn't Hard Boiled good." That's usually the response I get now, and I have to explain to any confused parties that, no, he wasn't talking about his breakfast. HB's plot is...well, good, considering all one should be asking for is neato gunplay. The acting is very good; the leads both make their characters the coolest action stars to grace a shoot-em-up. John Woo's directing is, to say the least, astounding. This guy (along with Tony Leung) can make strolling through a library look stylish and slick (you'll know what I'm talking about when you see it). The gunfights are, as expected, literally jaw dropping. You're left stunned minutes after each fight is over. Of course these scenes would be nothing without awesome heroes to make them fun. Chow Yun-Fat is awesome as always, needless to say. Leung is incredible and knows how to handle a gun perfectly. Anyway, this film sets the standard for actioners everywhere, and is a must for any DVD collection. And show it to a couple friends. It's fun to watch their reactions.
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on July 25, 2001
Hard Boiled is the movie where the master's of modern Hong Kong cinema put together THE best action movie outside US (and you could rightly say inside the US as well). It was this movie that finally got hollywood's full attention and brought the two over to the America. The production value is top notch and the DVD has a cornucopia of features.
The action scenes are briskly paced from the start, and the opening scene with Chow Yun Fat going after the gun runner in the tea house is only topped by the incredible action sequence midway through the movie when Chow Yun Fat's character finally meets up with Tony Leung's under cover cop. I'm not a big fan of spoiling the scenes, suffice to say the powerful impact of them doesn't diminish with watching. Woo's choice of using jazz was criticized in Hong Kong, but I disagree, it really adds a great flavor to the movie. And there are no cheesy Hong Kong music cuts anywhere in the movie. It is also a bit ironic that many critics in Hong Kong saw the movie as too dark, which I can only say compared to what Bullet to the Head or The Killer. It just goes to show what critics know.
Tony Leung's performance as an angst driven undercover cop would have gotten him an Oscar here in my humble opinion. It was a much better and more coherent part than Chow Yun Fat's similar character in City on Fire. The choices he has to make, who he ends up killing torment him and you can continue to argue over the choices he made. There is almost no 'right' choice.
Some of the themes in this movie are of course similar throughout the genre and you can't help but laugh when the classic argument about cops and criminals is lifted from just about every Clint Eastwood movie. The ending is a bit over the top - but almost restrained compared to a Bullet to the Head. Otherwise a perfect collabaration, and having seen my share of Hong Kong movie's this is one of the few 5 stars I would give out.
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