Bomb Rating: 

If you're ever looking to conduct a circle jerk at a National Rifle Association meeting, this is the movie to get the process started. As the last film director John Woo made before leaving Hong Kong, "Hard-Boiled" is cocaine for gun owners. It contains more bullet-riddled corpses than you can imagine.

Inspector Yuen (Chow Yun-Fat), nicknamed Tequila, has been investigating the Triads for some time. At the beginning of the film his partner is killed, so Tequila decides to dedicate his life and all his available ammunition to taking out the responsible parties. Unfortunately, his progress is hindered when he discovers that another cop, Tony (Tony Leung), has infiltrated the gangs and gotten close enough to Johnny Wong (Anthony Wong) to discover how Wong conducts his arms business. The two are forced to team up to battle Wong and his gang when they discover that Wong's arms cachet is located in the basement of a hospital.

In order to fit Woo's repertoire into their concept of quality, sycophants have been quick to throw out phrases like "operatic violence." With "Hard-Boiled," analysis has focused on the discomfort associated with China's takeover of Hong Kong and how Woo expressed that alarm through the emotional detachment of his heroes. If that's the case, what's his excuse for "Hard Target"?

The fact of the matter is that Woo has yet to make a film that isn't littered with excessive violence. It's not that he's trying to express himself through this material -- it's that he doesn't know any better. His solution to every conceivable problem is "let's shoot somebody." This seems more like a qualification for the L.A.P.D. than for a filmmaker.

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