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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
18
Cast
Chow Yun-Fat
Tony Leung
Teresa Mo.
Directors
John Woo.
Screenwriters
Barry Wong
John Woo.
Running Time
126 minutes

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Hard Boiled
An undercover cop becomes embroiled in gang warfare.


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Plot
Having gone undercover to discover his partner's killer, a cop, Yuen, manages to infiltrate a mob and meets Johnny, a hitman. Eventually they both realise the other is a cop and team up together to bring in the criminals, after discovering a supply of weaponry in the local hospital, but it proves tougher than they expected.


Review
The first feature film from critically worshipped Hong Kong director John Woo to receive more than a cursory release in the UK, this is an explosively visceral, operatic tour de force of breath-takingly choreographed violence and blistering ballistic pyrotechnics that begins over-the-top with a tea-house shoot-out that leaves at least 30 people dead, and then escalates into a succession of even more outrageous action set pieces.

In Hong Kong, on the eve of the Communist takeover and the relinquishment of British rule, police detective Yuen (Yun Fat) loses his partner in the tea-house slaughter, and against the advice of his superior, Chan, continues his own investigation into an illegal arms consortium, determined to nail those responsible for his partner's death. Following up a brutal hit, Yuen crosses paths with an undercover cop, Tony (Leung), who, posing as a hit man, has infiltrated the gun-running operation and who, unbeknown to Yuen, passes coded messages back to Chan. When Tony is forced to betray his boss and defect to a rival gang headed by sadistic young pretender Johnny, Yuen uncovers Tony's secret.

Upon learning that a city hospital is the site of Johnny's arsenal, the pair team up for a showdown that culminates in a maelstrom of bullets and delirious destruction. With a body count well into three figures, more firepower than you can shake an Uzi at, and imaginatively realised, adrenaline-pumping action sequences to turn Hollywood's action directors green, this was Woo's most outrageous two hours to date, mixing the frenzied pacing of kung fu flicks with a plethora of cinematic tricks — slow-motion, freeze-frames, wipes — Woo has elevated the action movie into the realm of art. Infinitely more exciting than a dozen Die Hards, action cinema doesn't come any better than this.


Extras

Hard Boiled Hard Boiled
Released: 05 June 2000
A real let down. The interview with Woo - taken from a Hong Kong talkshow circa 1992 - is in Mandarin and, while informative, it's a real drag to follow. Other interviews (with Yun-Fat and Leung) are simply written transcripts. Filmographies and the usual are just window dressing.


Verdict
Before John Woo went all Hollywood on our ass with the likes of Face/Off and Mission: Impossible II, he made several films in his native Hong Kong, this being arguably the pick of the bunch. Although not as slick as his later films, it's more inventive and stylised and with great early performances from Fat and Leung.


Reviewed by Mark Salisbury

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Hard Boiled
Empire Star Rating

Gotta live the dive and shoot

If you like watchin people getting capped then this movie is definatly for you. Just sit back and chow on your popcorn as that body count rises. And the best thing is - it's superbly filmed. Byt hat I mean loads of slow motion style diving around in an over the top but uber cool manner, while shooting of course. John woo practically invented the dive and shoot. If you liked the matrix then this is really where it all began. You'll have a chow yun fat woody by the end of it for sure. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Smootle at 14:21, 20 September 2009 | Report This Post


4 stars? Come on. This is a must-see!

A masterpiece. Tequila + Woo + violence + bullets = An outrageous and really really cool masterwork. Two hours at the edge of your seat. This is like having a very strong coffee or an adrenaline injection. An experience you won't soon forget. Great Movie. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 21:31, 20 September 2008 | Report This Post


BULLET FEST

This is the Halmark of eastern action films and probably western faction flicks as well. An end to end adrenaline rush with solid performances from Yum-Fat and Leung. A genre classic. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by davelogan at 14:17, 21 July 2008 | Report This Post


MIND BLOWING!!!

Quite simply, one of the greatest action movies EVER!!!!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tallaght24 at 12:57, 05 December 2007 | Report This Post


4 stars? never ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bobbyperu at 10:47, 22 October 2007 | Report This Post


4 stars? never ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bobbyperu at 10:47, 22 October 2007 | Report This Post


The Greatest action film ever made, better than Die Hard. Has the greatest shoot out ever put on film, the hospital corridor scene. Has the greatest action star ever, Chow Yun-Fat. There will never be movie made like it again. Superb. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by adambt at 14:09, 20 September 2007 | Report This Post


Absolute quality

This was just manic. I gotta check out Face/off and the killer. Die hard and the matrix have nothing on this. Imean, what an opening , a shootout in a teahouse! The only thing that stops me giving this the coveted five stars is the fact that the dubbed version sounds awful which I had. Which is an unfair critiscm, perhaps but this was far cheaper then the subtitled. The climax is chaotic but it is astonishuing how Woo can maintain excitement for 40 minutes. Superb ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ace Rothstein at 10:54, 19 June 2007 | Report This Post


gun porno

how can empire give this film just 4 stars??? its the greatest action movie ever! the whole hospital shoot out is just the best piece of action cinema ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by {luke} at 13:47, 01 July 2006 | Report This Post


this film just ozzes cool, the best John Woo film out there, great action, great acting, and Chow yun Fat, what more could you want ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Zaphod121 at 19:15, 16 June 2006 | Report This Post


John Woo at his best before it all went downhill... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cujo at 13:19, 30 March 2006 | Report This Post


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