I haven’t been watching any Asian films lately, and this was a return to the classics. It’s a cop story, which is damn popular in Hong Kong and China, and it’s not hard to see why.
Hard Boiled is really, really hardcore. The body count is insane. Sure, there are plenty of things I can find fault with it. Bullets are infinite, heroes are immortal, henchmen often miss, and things that shouldn’t stop bullets do when its convenient, like car doors and plaster walls, and don’t when it’s not. Also, flashy explosions galore. C4 does not create fire like that. Nor does shooting a shotgun at stuff.
But beyond the usual Hollywood-style dramatisation of gun fights and the shaky camera work, it’s a really gritty film that harks back to the simpler days, when CGI was nothing but a dream and special effects was a directorial skill. The shooting was non-stop, and it was a thrill from start to finish. And gosh, that first tea-house shoot-out. What a blast.
And the characters are pretty good too, if a bit bland. Some were clearly more developed and 3-dimensional than others, but this is a film that’s really just about the violence, and it doesn’t disappoint in that regard.
Given the recent happenings in Ferguson and other parts of USA, it feels a bit strange to be getting all excited and thrilled about a film where the police shoot at gangsters indiscriminately, often leading to civilian casualties. And even in the film, the main characters ended up shooting their own allies. It was never really touched upon, but it raises very pertinent questions.
To what extent should we allow the police to use deadly force against people? Is feeling threatened enough, as it is in the US? Or is a deadly assault necessary before the police react? Personally, I’m all for the latter, but I can see why the former is a safer option for the police. Given the ease at which the police shoot in USA though (especially that 12-year-old kid who was shot within 12s of the police arrival, after the caller had told the operator that he thought it was a fake gun, twice), it’s come to a point where the police are not protecting the citizens but themselves.
But enough social commentary. Hard Boiled is a classic. Violent and gritty, just the way I like my shows.