Hard-Boiled (1992)

November 17, 2003 • Film, Reviews

[director John Woo Ng-Sum]
Cast: Chow Yun-Fat, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang

This is a social commentary movie. It is also one of the most artfully choreographed explosions of violence in the history of film.

Hard Boiled is exciting stuff, with easily the most exciting shootouts ever filmed, a ripping score (by Michael Gibbs), and some beautiful cinematography and a moody sadness and feeling of doom. And through all this a chipper, energetic Chow Yun-Fat fights the scum of the earth, personified by Anthony Wong, a villain so diabolical he stores his armaments in the basement of a hospital. A leering satan, Anthony Wong cackles at his own sadism, just as his frightening right-hand man, Mad Dog gets off on it. But Chow stands up to them all the same, with help from morally conflicted undercover cop Tony Leung Chiu-Wai.

Tony Leung is my favorite actor in all of film, and one particular scene in this movie illustrates why. He has to betray his gang boss to get in with Anthony Wong, but Wong demands that Tony’s gang boss die at Tony’s hands. Suppressing his pain, Tony kills the boss he has come to love and respect. Then he turns to Anthony Wong and his men and walks over to them to grab a machine gun and mow down his gang boss’s men. The shot is in slow-motion and we can see the incredible supressed pain and rage pass through Tony’s face before he obliterates it with a smile. Still, frustrated tears well in his eyes right as he grabs the machine gun. In moments like this Leung proves himself to be one of the most natural and talented actors in the world today, with twitch-perfect timing and the finesse to match his vigor and energy.

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