Tony Leung Chiu Wai
Hard Boiled is a feast for action-pervs, iced with the Woo trademarks you either love or hate: from the overabundance of slow-mo to the visual stimulant of raining blood. Woo doesn’t tell the most intriguing of stories, but the selling point lies in the showcase of non-stop carnage, which Hard Boiled wears like a badge of honor.
The most famous scene is the Maple Group Hospital sequence, a stunning cornucopia of violence and bloodshed strung together through manic choreography. Piled with newborns, surgeons, hostages, and baddies, the building is covered with bullets and bodies until it explodes into a towering inferno. The shining moment in the dark half-hour is the two minutes and 42 seconds single shot, a stellar accomplishment with the handheld camera.
A special mention to the film’s body count should be noted. According to website www.moviebodycounts.com, Hard Boiled frantically dishes out 307 bodies (third highest in cinema history) with 146 in the hospital sequence alone (which is three less than the entirety of Woo’s most famous work, The Killer). Chow Yun-Fat holds the highest kill count in the film with 77—as a character notes, “The man who holds the gun wins.”
The film is essential, holding an invincible legacy amongst current and upcoming action directors. Movies like Michael Mann’s Heat and the Wachowski’s The Matrix owe their success and superb shootouts to Woo’s film.
John Woo’s Hard Boiled is a rare film; thin plot (and Lionel Ritchie renditions) aside, it’s the thick action that deserves recognition. Home to some of the most well-choreographed action sequences ever shot, Hard Boiled basks in its blitz, firing enough bullets to make The Wild Bunch look like a duel.
A Baptism of Fire: A Featurette with Iconic Director John Woo (38:20): This lengthy sit-down with Woo is an insightful look into his influences, fondness for his actors, and stories of production. A must-watch.
Interview Gallery: There are three here: first up is Producer Terence Chang (24:57), followed by Co-Star Philip Chan (15:56) and Leading Villain Kwok Choi (25:03). Watching the trio in a row is a bit exhausting, but if spaced out, can be a joy to watch.
The Location Guide (8:49) takes us on an informative tour of Hong Kong to feature locales from the action-packed film. From the teahouse (now a mall) and library to the harbor and infamous hospital (now a Coca-Cola factory), it’s interesting to see what the buildings look like 15 years later.
Trailers and a Making of ‘Stranglehold’ round out this two-discer.