Written by: Michael Den Boer on December 14th, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1992
Director: John Woo
Writer: Barry Wong
Cast: Chow Yun-Fat, Anthony Wong, Teresa Mo, Philip Kwok, Philip Chan, Kwan Hoi-shan, Bowie Lam, Tony Leung
BluRay released: December 14th, 2010
Approximate running time: 128 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive
Sound: DTS-HD Cantonese, Dolby Digital Mono Cantonese, Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
BluRay Release: Dragon Dynasty
Region Coding: Region 0
Retail Price: $19.95
Synopsis: Inspector Yuen “Tequila” (Chow Yun Fat) will do anything even break the law to catch Johnny Wong (Anthony Wong) the man responsible for his partners death. During a raid Inspector Yuen befriends one of Johnny Wong’s men Tony (Tony Leung) who also just happens to be an undercover cop. Inspector Yuen and Tony decide that working together they can get more accomplished as they track down the evidence that will finally bring Johnny Wong down.
If you are fan of action cinema. Then chances are that you have seen John Woo’s tour de force swan song from Hong Kong cinema. Before he would leave for greener pastures and fade away into relative obscurity in the Hollywood machine. The west had been trying to lure John Woo as far back as 1989 after making his masterpiece The Killer a film which not only delivers on counts action wise it also proves that action films can also be about much deeper and personal subject matters like loyalty, friendship and betrayal. The Killer is a tough act top follow and while Hard Boiled may not achieve that same emotional heights that The killer does. It somehow manages to top every Acton film made before it and since with its mind blowing actions sequences many of which defy logic and all of which are filled with poetic grace.
Cinema has produced through the years many great actor/director collaborations in which both participants achieve their greatest successes within said collaborations. John Woo and Chow Yun-Fat have teamed up five times A Better Tomorrow, A Better Tomorrow 2, Once a Thief, The Killer and Hard Boiled which sees the collaboration at its apex. The acting in Hard Boiled is flawless (listen to the Cantonese audio) as each performer takes on their perspective roles with bravado. Besides the excellent casting of Chow Yun-Fat another important part of why the film works so well is the casting of Tony Leung as Chow Yun-Fat’s sidekick and at times nemeses. Then there is the ever reliable Anthony Wong playing the lead villain named Johnny Wong. The rest of the supporting cast are all very good and add depth to the main characters.
Like many of the previous Woo/Yun-Fat collaborations humor is injected through out Hard Boiled with one of my favorite moments coming when Inspector Yuen played by Chow Yun-Fat is killing bad guys while holding a baby and he tells the child not to look because the action is X-Rated. There are many great action moments in the film most notably the tea house shooting at the beginning of the film. The shootouts are always bloody and often violent. Ultimately if you are a fan of action cinema then you are sure to be blown away by John Woo’s Hard Boiled.
Hard Boiled comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive anamorphic widescreen. Colors, black levels and flesh tones all fare well. Details generally look crisp, there are no problems with compression and DNR varies in degree throughout. The differences between this transfer and Dragon Dynasty’s transfer for their DVD release for Hard Boiled is minimal.
This release comes with three audio options, a DTS-HD mix in Cantonese, a Dolby Digital Mono mix in Cantonese and a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix in English. All three audio mixes sound clear and consistent throughout. With the strongest of the three audio mixes being the DTS-HD Cantonese. This release comes with three subtitle options, English, English SDH, Spanish. It should be noted that the subtitles are ‘Dubtitles’ and not a directed translation of the film’s native language.
Extras for this release a feature Length Audio Commentary by Hong Kong Cinema Expert Bey Logan, “A Baptism Of Fire” a interview with director John Woo (38 minutes / in English no subtitles), “Art Imitates Life” an interview with actor Philip Chan (16 minutes / in English no subtitles), “Mad Dog Bites Again” an interview with actor Kwok Choi (25 minutes / in Cantonese with English subtitles) and “Hard Boiled Location Guide” (9 minutes). The audio commentary with Bey Logan makes a solid companion piece to the interviews included with this release. Once again Bey Logan provides a insightful track that is a must listen for fans of this film. The standout extra is the interview with John Woo who discusses the origins of the project, the cast, the stunt work and all the key sequences in the film are discussed in depth. Phillip Chan discusses his transition from law enforcement into acting and Kwok Choi discusses the Shaw Brothers films that he appeared in and stunt work. The segment titled “Hard Boiled Location Guide” is a before and after look at several of the film’s key locations. Some of the extras which are listed on the DVD back cover art are nowhere to be found on this disc. The missing extras include preview for the video game “Stranglehold”, the Hong Kong theatrical trailer, the US promotional trailer and a interview with titled “Partner In Crime” an interview with Producer Terence Chang. All of these missing extras can be found on Dragon Dynasty’s DVD release of Hard Boiled. Overall Hard Boiled gets a disappointing release from Dragon Dynasty that fails to live up to its “Ultimate Edition” moniker.