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Hard Boiled

by Tony Ramos

After I first watched the film Hard Boiled, I felt I had seen the greatest crime action film of all time. Years later, and with many more criminal action films under my belt, I still stand by that opinion. Hard Boiled truly is an amazing symphony of bullets with a great conductor (director) beautifully orchestrating all of the intense action we witness onscreen.

Yes, the action sequences in Hard Boiled are over the top and very stylized but that's what makes the film a joy to watch. It doesn't expect you to question why the good and bad guys in the film never seem to run out of bullets (except at opportune times to heighten the tension) or how the main characters in the story seem to defy death with so much chaos around them. It is a film that asks you, the audience, to come into this violent world of make believe mayhem and simply enjoy the ride, like one might a roller coaster.

Hard Boiled is a 1992 action/crime/thriller film directed by John Woo, who is considered by many filmmakers the greatest action director of our time, possibly of all time. The film stars Yun-Fat Chow as Inspector "Tequila" Yuen who is working a case, investigating mobsters who are smuggling guns into Hong Kong. The other main protagonist of the film is Tony, played by Tony Leung Chiu Wai. Leung plays an undercover officer who has gotten deep into the mobsters criminal world as a new hot shot enforcer whom the two biggest gun dealing mobs want working for them.

Tony (Tony Leung) and Tequila (Yun-Fat Chow)
The film's big time action begins at a tea house where Tequila and other officers have set up a sting operation on mobster gun smugglers. All hell breaks loose after the policemen let themselves be known and many innocent people are killed, as is Tequila's friend and partner. The death of his friend becomes an even bigger motivation for Tequila to not simply sit back and wait for the mobsters to make a mistake but to literally attack them; single handedly, if need be.

Tequila (Chow)
Tony meanwhile, works directly under the mob headed by Mr. Hoi (Hoi-Shan Kwan). Tony, being such a good enforcer, is recruited by Hoi's rival, Johnny Wong (Anthony Wong Chau-Sang), a younger, more ambitious and violent mobster. He sees Tony as a great asset and would like nothing better than to have him betray his old boss by coming over to join his side, thus wiping out his main competition at the same time. 

Tony (Tony Leung)
Suffice it to say, that even though both of these men essentially have the same mission, their methods and personalities are different. Do they kill each other before bringing down the gangsters, or do they eventually join forces and succeed together? 

Tequila (Chow) and Tony (Leung)
The action and the stunt work in the film are enough to entertain all action fans, but what also makes this film work is that it is a classic buddy film. The two main protagonists couldn't be more different. Yes, they are both cool, calm cats under pressure, but Tequila is the “hard boiled” impatient cop who needs things done yesterday, while Tony obviously has greater patience being an undercover cop.

Despite their obvious differences, however, they really are the same.  They both acknowledge the deaths they have witnessed or been a part of, even if in their own personal way. Tony makes paper cranes for each life he has taken, while Tequila writes music for every fallen comrade.

Tequila (Chow)
Yun-Fat Chow plays Tequila very smoothly, and Fat's charismatic personality shines through in every scene. It is no wonder that he is such a superstar. Tony Leung has the more complicated role, but he pulls it off in an extraordinary way, his many different emotions all clearly visible in his eyes. He essentially plays two roles: that of a mobster hit man, and that of an undercover officer. Tony's dual life causes him to be a somewhat lonely figure that one could easily see as someone who might never find inner peace after all the violence he has been a part of. Interestingly, Tony lives on a boat, and what better place to live for a person who does not really have any connections than on a boat, which, unlike a building or tree, has no foundation or roots.

So, I leave you with this thought. If you're the type of person for whom the soundtrack of many bullets firing is music to your ears, and you love buddy action flicks with great stunt work and beautiful camera movements, I recommend Hard Boiled. Once you get ahold of it, just remember to buckle up for a fast moving ride.

For more information visit their IMDb page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104684/