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Hard Boiled
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Cast:John Woo, Chow Yun-Fat, Bowie Lam, Philip Chan

Fast, violent, and pulsating with style, John Woo's 1992 HARD BOILED shows why Hong Kong action pictures have found a dedicated audience all over the world. The story is a cops-and-mobsters thriller that gets a jolt of propulsive energy from the wattage of its stars. The lanky Chow Yun-Fat is Tequila, the hard-boiled cop who saves babies and noodles soulfully on the clarinet, and Tony Leung is an undercover officer whose passion equals Tequila's. Chow, one of Hong Kong's biggest stars, is as glamorous and self-contained as any classic-era Hollywood icon (think John Wayne or Gary Cooper), and he's also a sly comic presence. John Woo, the director of such U.S. hits as FACE/OFF and BROKEN ARROW, demonstrates his mastery of operatic romanticism and mythopoetic violence (exemplified by the scenes in the teahouse and the hospital). His nocturnal Hong Kong -- neon-soaked and melancholy -- is beautiful and compelling, a city uncertain of its future and already nostalgic for its present. Rachel Saltz

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