Tuesday, May 12, 2020

[Roll Your Own Life] The Movies That Made Me (Part 16)

HARD BOILED (1992, 1993 for me)

Back onto movies I love and that have had a massive impact on me. Hard Boiled is one of those movies that I knew nothing about before going into the screen. I knew very little of the cool movies coming out of Hong Kong. The closest I got to it was hearing that Reservoir Dogs (which I saw when it came out in the UK in 93) was a rip off of (sorry, inspired by) a Hong Kong action movie called City on Fire. This must have got me interested.

When our local arthouse cinema while I was studying at University decided they were going to show Hard Boiled, I figured I'd give it a go.

Hard Boiled is a cool crime movie with the legendary Chow Yun-Fat playing a cop ("Tequila" Yuen) trying to bring down a new gang leader, Johnny Wong. He ends up partnering with Alan (Tony Leung) a gunman working for a rival gang who is actually an undercover cop. It all ends up in a massive gunfight in a hospital that takes up half of the movie.

Never had I seen anything like it. The crazy stuntwork, the slow motion action, jumping in the air with two guns - the action was less of a shootout and more of a balletic dance. It was stunning.

There were only a dozen or so people in the audience that afternoon, and the arthouse cinema messed up and showed two of the reels in the wrong order. But you know what? It didn't matter. We all still understood it, thought of it like a flashback, and got on with it. At the end of the movie, the audience clapped and cheered. It was awesome.

I came out of the cinema in a state of shock and eager to discover what I'd been missing. I hunted down any movie director John Woo had done, and any movie that starred Chow Yun-Fat. Was I ever in for a treat. The Killer, A Better Tomorrow, the even more over-the-top A Better Tomorrow II, The God of Gamblers, City on Fire, Once a Thief, Full Contact, Bullet in the Head... I watched them with a newly discovered amazement.

When John Woo started directing movies in the west, I was very excited. Hard Target, Broken Arrow and Face/Off are great, but I can't help but feel a little disappointed in Mission: Impossible 2.

But it wasn't just Hong Kong crime action I discovered thanks to Hard Boiled. I started checking out the movies of Jackie Chan, and Jet Li (Fong Sai-yuk remains one of my favourites).

Awesome stuff. I may have to rewatch Hard Boiled and The Killer now...

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