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No. 5, April 2000
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Hard Boiled 1992
Director: John Woo
Inspector Yuen: Chow Yun Fat
Tony (Alan): Tony Leung
Teresa Chang: Terese Mo
Detective Chan: Philip Chan
Mr. Woo: John Woo
 
Chow Yun Fat (The Replacement Killers) plays the role of inspector Yuen, a man who has decided to crack down once and for all the syndicate of Hong Kong-based arms dealers. After months of undercover investigation the situation escalates, criminals and innocent people get killed and, above all, inspector Yuen has to start his investigation all over again.
 
Yuen realizes that there is still an undercover agent working for the police department. His boss gets secret messages through musical notes delivered with bunches of flowers sent to a former girlfriend of Yuen's. The melody is a hidden code for his superior. The undercover agent Tony (Tony Leung) works for both sides but begins to chase the gangsters with Yuen. A showdown in a hospital garantees a lot of action.
 
The quality of film-making is equal to Hollywood productions, especially on the action and esthetic level. But the story - as always with John Wood - is very thin. The plot and the characters are too simple. What saves the film is a great actor: Chow Yun Fat. What a pity that this man is not fluent (yet) in English. He could become a Hollywood superstar.
 
Director John Woo, biography
 
Hard Boiled (1992) is a typical John Woo action movie. The director was born in 1946 as Ng Yu-Sum in Guangzhou, in the Chinese province of Canton. In the early 1950s his family (Christians) moved to Hong Kong for religious reasons - Communist revolutionary pressure was severe. In Hong Kong John Woo's father contracted TB and the big fire of 1953 destroyed their home - the family was homeless for a while and had some hard times. Young John Woo learned to appreciate cinema as a child. He left High School and joined a youth theatre club that organized screenings of European movies and shot little films. In the late 1960s, John Woo shot several 8mm and 16mm experimental films. He got his first job in the film business in 1969 as script supervisor at the Hong Kong based Cathay Studios. From 1971 on he worked for the Shaw Bros. and their film studio. The martial-arts master Chang Cheh influenced him when he worked as his assistant director. In 1973 he had his first chance to direct a film, but it did not pass censorhip because it contained too much violence. The film was sold to the Golden Harvest company and released two years later. Woo signed a contract and began shooting films for them. The 1977-comedy The Pilferer's Progress was a success and therefore a number of other comedies followed. After a series of flops in the mid-1980s his career was in danger. When he went under contract with producer and director Tsui Hark this changed. A Better Tomorrow was his first film with him. It was a mix of martial arts and film noir. It won in 1987 the Hong Kong Film Award as Best Picture and established Leslie Cheung and Chow Yun Fat as action stars. A series of action movies followed, among them Hard Boiled which won a Hong Kong Film Award for Best Film Editing in 1992 and opened the road to Hollywood John Woo. There he worked with Jean-Claude Van Damme in Hard Target in 1993. Among John Woo's more recent movies are Face Off, Mission Impossible and soon to come: Mission Impossible II.
 
A selection of awards won by John Woo
1996 Cine Asia Award: Life Time Achievement; 1993 Hong Kong Film Award: Best Film Editing for Hard Boiled; 1991 Hong Kong Film Award: Best Film Editing for Bullet in the Head; 1990 Hong Kong Film Award: Best Director for The Killer; 1987 Hong Kong Film Award: Best Picture for A Better Tomorrow; etc.
 

Get Hard Boiled on DVD from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr (A toute Úpreuve; 2 DVDs). [August 11, 2003: currently out of stock at Amazon.com, Directmedia.ch].
 

 

www.cosmopolis.ch
No. 5, April 2000
current edition & archives
Art  Film  Music  History  Politics  Archives
Links  For Advertisers  Feedback  German edition  Travel

Copyright 2000  www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.