John Woo...just the name gives me flashbacks of bloody shootouts, tons of action and lots of guns.
In this article, i am going to give my personal opinion about his last Hong Kong modern action movie (Hard Boiled) and his first Hollywood movie (Hard Target)....double hard, double action !
Hard Boiled (1992)
I watched this movie when i was 14, after many years of playing Max Payne i was pretty interested in seeing where they got the inspiration for the style of the game (at the time i first played Max Payne, i wasn't really a big moviegoer, as i am now).
Hard Boiled has four of my favourite actors in their best roles:
Chow Yun-fat (as Tequila Yuen)
Tony Leung (as Tony)
Anthony Wong (as Johnny Wong)
Philip Kwow (as "Mad Dog")
You simply can't get bored at this movie, because there is action in (almost) the whole movie, the action is well coreographed, violent and bloody, it's almost obvious that John Woo's movies (Hard Boiled in particular) inspired so many Hollywood directors in making their features, you can find a very subtle reference to John Woo in almost 80% of action movies in general.
Hard Boiled has the best soundtrack ever used in an action movie:
The final showdown in the hospital is THE pinnacle of Hong Kong action cinema....what the hell, it's THE pinnacle of the action cinema in general and it includes the best tracking shot ever
Hard Boiled is my favorite movie of all time, i know, there are better John Woo movies, but i think that Hard Boiled deserves this title for the following reason: It combines the philosophy and style of Hong Kong cinema with "mindless" action, i am trying to say that it's a mix of a violent popcorn action flick (in the way i like it) with an intelligent plot and script.
Oh yeah, the English dubbing is hilarious as hell:
Watch it in the original language track....i will NEVER stop boycotting dubbings (especially if they belong to a dumbed down version for the western audience).
I know that there is a video game called "Stranglehold", it's supposed to be a sequel to Hard Boiled, i still haven't played it.
In Hong Kong, Hard Boiled wasn't popular as Woo's other movies (A Better Tomorrow, The Killer, Bullet in the head), but many Western countries (especially in the USA, Canada and many European countries) it was a BIG success, for this reason John Woo went to the USA.
Hard Target (1993)
"He is the Martin Scorsese of Asia" With this statement, Jean Claude Van Damme helped John Woo in making his first Hollywood feature.
I first watched this film when i was....6 or 7 years old, i watched it again in these days because i was pretty surprised to see that John Woo directed this movie and it had 3 of my favorite actors and 1 of my favorite actresses:
Jean Claude Van Damme (as Chance Bodreaux)
Lance Henriksen (as Emil Fouchon)
Arnold Vosloo (as Van Cleef)
Yancy Butler (as Natasha "Nat" Binder)
The action is not spectacular as Hard Boiled, but is well done, it definitely feels like a Hollywood movie. Van Damme gives one of his memorable performances, delivering kicks and other cool martial arts action...mixed with gunplay.
Lance Henriksen and Arnold Vosloo are a good pair of villains (that reminds me of Johnny Wong and Mad Dog in Hard Boiled).
Just like Hard Boiled, Hard Target features a memorable soundtrack, my favorite musical score from the movie is this one:
(Broken YouTube Link Removed)
Unfortunately, Hard Boiled got cut for avoid an NC-17 rating from the MPAA, i got lucky enough to watch the Uncut International version, it restores 3 minutes of violent footage (in the first scene and in the final shootout), but there is another version that it's waiting to be released. John Woo's preferred version run's about 116 minutes, it has more plot development and some violence that's it's not included in the Uncut international version (one of these violent scenes is a tribute to the ear cutting scene in Reservoir Dogs), you can find this version on the internet (through illegal downloads, like Torrents and stuff like that) in a not-so-good quality.....when we are going to get the Director's cut on DVD/Blu-Ray ?!?!?!?
In conclusion, Hard Target is the best American John Woo movie....yes, even better than Face/off, i don't like Face/off that much, (in my opinion) it's overrated and boring.