American producers certainly made the action film into the monster that it is today, but in the 1990s Hong Kong enjoyed its own cinematic resurgence with directors, led by John Woo (see also Johnny To and Yonfan), adding a harder edge to the action. Although Woo claims violence makes him sick ("I get pretty upset. And I'd bring that to screen. Let's beat him harder, let's hit him with more bullets"), you wouldn't guess it from looking at his movies. The Hard Boiled plot is standard action fare, very similar to Beverly Hills Cop; dedicated cop (Yun-Fat) seeks out the killers of his partner with the aid of an undercover agent. The action, however, is slick and choreographed, featuring what have become Woo trademarks (the Mexican stand-off between adversaries, two-handed gun action, slow motion and freeze-frame shots) and the comedy is blacker than the usual wisecracks. One of the best action films of the '90s, but stick to the original Cantonese version.
Director: John Woo Cast: Chow Yun-Fat, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Philip Chan, Teresa Mo


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