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Genre: Action/Crime
Starring: Chow Yun Fat, Tony Leung, Teresa Mo, Philip Chan, Anthony Wong, Bowie Lam, Philip Kwok, Bobby Au-Yeung
Director: John Woo
Rating: PG
Year Made: 1992
Links: www.dragondynasty.com




- Feature Length Audio Commentary by Hong Kong Cinema Expert Bey Logan

A Baptism of Fire: A Featurette with Iconic Director John Woo
- Partner In Crime: An Interview with Producer Terence Chang
- Art Imitates Life: An Interview with Co-star Philip Chan
- Hard Boiled Location Guide
- Mad Dog Bites Again: An Interview with Leading Villain Kwok Choi
- Trailer Gallery (Hong Kong Theatrical Trailer & US Promotional Trailer)




Languages: Cantonese
Subtitles: English
Aspect Ratio: Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Running Time: 2 hrs 10 mins
Region Code: 1
Distributor: Dragon Dynasty




Chow Yun-Fat stars as Tequila, a cop hell-bent on bringing down the gun smugglers responsible for his partner's death. He teams up with an undercover cop whose secret identity as a Triad hitman hangs by a thread. The film raises gunfights to an art form with some of the most celebrated action sequences ever including a close-quarters teahouse shootout and a monumental firefight through the halls of a packed hospital.


I was never a John Woo convert even after the success of his “A Better Tomorrow” and “Once Upon A Thief”. To me back then, he’s just another HK director to watch out for although I personally caught most of his stuff on VHS or the big screen. That is until the release of “Hard Boiled” in 1992.

I can still recall the original one-sheet which featured a heavily armed Chow Yun-Fat carrying a baby. Tony Leung was nowhere to be seen. But Leung played a crucial role in “Hard Boiled” as a police informer infiltrating an arms smuggler den. “Infernal Affairs”? Not really but Leung is good in both and Woo’s treatment of his character, Alan in a way surpassed that of the hard-boiled cop, Tequila (Chow Yun-Fat).

Alan is sort of a tortured soul. Trapped as a right-hand man of his triad boss and also answerable to his superintendent (Philip Chan). What is loyalty and betrayal? He’s a man that is wanted by both the triad and police. A loner who lived on a yacht. And there’s an interesting line said by his character towards the end of the movie that best describes him.

But with the multi-façades Chow Yun-Fat around, it’s hard to lure the attention of the audience away from him. As Tequila, he’s brave, impulsive and loyal to his killed buddy. And the sentimental side of him plays the sax. Nobody beats Chow in terms of coolness when he fires his semi-automatic. He’s the perfect hero under the hands of Woo.

To merely brush “Hard Boiled” off as another action movie is a huge understatement. Woo opens the movie with little fanfare, the credit listed only 3 names: Chow, Leung and Woo accompanied with a jazzy score. Quiet before the big storm they say. And viola! There’s a huge unforeseen shootout at a traditional HK teahouse shortly after. Rounds and rounds of ammunition are expended. While guns are hidden in plant pots in “A Better Tomorrow”, we have guns hidden under bird cages in “Hard Boiled’!

From that point on, “Hard Boiled” got me glued. The action and drama never stopped and the character, Alan is introduced bringing us to the pivotal point of the plot. For a 120 minutes movie, the action is excessive but that’s the selling point of “Hard Boiled”.

The action gets more intense as the plot furthers, if getting endless rounds of bullets being pumped into a single entity is not enough, how about blowing up motorcycles with the flaming riders still on it? The crazy stunts by Philip Kwok (he played one-eye in the movie as well) in addition to Woo’s over the top ballistic guns choreography are an eye-opener. The warehouse shootout surpassed the prior setup in the teahouse but still, Woo managed to top it off with a finale that will definitely goes to the Guinness Book of Records for having the largest body counts and pyrotechnics if there’s any nominations for that.

Listen to Woo and Terence Chang’s interviews in the features and look for the scene that was shot in a single long take with Alan and One-eye. There’s also an amusing shot of Tequila and Alan going into a lift and continue the shooting after the lift open it’s door presumably on another floor. Catch is the whole sequence was shot in an abandoned Coca-cola plant which contains only one level. To portray the various hospital floorings, the crew has to clean and change the backdrop of that shot in a matter of seconds.

The release of ”Hard Boiled” marks the departure of John Woo’s career in Hong Kong. With the assistance of his producer friend, Terence Chang, he shifted to Hollywood and debut with Jean Claude Van-Damme’s “Hard Target” in 1993. The best John Woo’s Hollywood feature remains “Face/Off” in my opinion. But that’s another story. I shall leave it to you on how you view his achievements in Hollywood.

A moderate success in Hong Kong and the rest of Asia, “Hard Boiled” truly is Woo’s trademark and imprints all over minus the white doves fortunately. It’s an amazing display of pyrotechnics in its greatest glory that will send your head spinning and urging for more.


A Baptism of Fire: A Featurette with Iconic Director John Woo – If you can get John Woo to talk for more than 30 minutes, isn’t it better to do a complete commentary for the movie. But anyway Woo did contribute some interesting anecdotes about the making of the movie liked how he wanted the explosions to be bigger and how the original story of a psychopath poisoning babies was abandoned. There aren’t any subtitles provided and to make things worse, Woo’s English tend to be slurring at times so you need to pay close attention to what he has to say.

Partner In Crime: An Interview with Producer Terence Chang – Woo’s close friend and producer Terence Chang is far more articulate and an engaging speaker as well (he’s a producer mind you). Chang touches on how he has to tone down Woo’s request for more explosions so as to lower the budget and in the end, incurred Woo’s black face for days. Secondly, they shot the teahouse sequence without a script and the passing of scriber Barry Wong doesn’t help either. Interesting tidbits.

Art Imitates Life: An Interview with Co-star Philip Chan – We know Philip Chan as an actor but not knowing the fact that he’s an ex-superintendent in the 70’s specializing in undercover cops. Cool.

Hard Boiled Location Guide – A pretty babe showing us the various locations used for “Hard Boiled”. That’s eye-candy. The traditional teahouse has been pulled down to become a shopping mall. That’s pity.

Mad Dog Bites Again: An Interview with Leading Villain Kwok Choi – Philip Kwok or sometimes credited as Kwok Choi talks about his experiences working with John Woo and on “Hard Boiled”. Interestingly, they spent laborious weeks in the enclosed Coca-cola plant filming the finale and warehouse sequence that they have to sleep on the set. And the appearance of the food caterer knocking on the door is the only indication of time.

Trailer Gallery (Hong Kong Theatrical Trailer & US Promotional Trailer) – The original and US trailers round up the rest of disc two.


This is definitely the best “Hard Boiled” DVD transfer so far although there are still occasional artifacts spotted. To be less judgmental, Dragon Dynasty and Genius Products had lifted the original material to greater heights. I can’t wait to see what they can come up with on HD or Blu-ray though.

The audio comes only in the original Cantonese language and in dubbed English. The Mandarin track is not available here. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is sharply enhanced to give a total blowout on the surround speakers.



Review by Linus Tee


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. Flash Point

. Invisible Target

. Dragon Tiger Gate

. Rob-B-Hood DVD

. The Myth DVD

. Twins Mission


Other HK Classics on DVD:

. Crime Story DVD

. Dragons Forever DVD

. Wheels On Meals DVD

. Swordsman DVD

. Iron Monkey DVD


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