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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

HARD-BOILED (1992)

After this Hong Kong actioner, helmer John Woo came to Hollywood, even went Hollywood, but never quite lived up to all the hype. You can see both what excited everyone and what was so painfully missing in this empty-headed policier. Chow Yun-Fat is a detective and Tony Leung is an undercover cop who come close to killing each other before they discover they are working for the same team on the same case. You really can’t tell your gangsters without a scorecard here, but Woo smashes on with ever more elaborate gun battles, constantly raising the firepower, as the film moves to its overblown climax. The model for Woo’s pyrotechnics are more like arcade shoot-em-ups than today’s video game aesthetic, which gives a bit of period flavor to all the sound & fury, but you only have to compare this to a dramatic kissing-cousin like INFERNAL AFFAIRS/’02 (also starring Leung & the source of Scorsese’s THE DEPARTED/’06) to see Woo’s limitations.

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