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R Released Jan 1, 1992 2h 6m Action List
92% Tomatometer 71 Reviews 92% Audience Score 25,000+ Ratings A cop who loses his partner in a shoot-out with gun smugglers goes on a mission to catch them. In order to get closer to the leaders of the ring he joins forces with an undercover cop who's working as a gangster hitman. They use all means of excessive force to find them. Read More Read Less

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Critics Consensus

Boasting impactful action as well as surprising emotional resonance, Hard Boiled is a powerful thriller that hits hard in more ways than one.

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Critics Reviews

View All (71) Critics Reviews
Tony Rayns Sight & Sound Hard-Boiled is actually Woo's most relaxed and confident film so far, and in many ways a terrific achievement. It offers nothing much new in plot terms... but its details and incidentals are gleefully idiosyncratic. Jul 27, 2023 Full Review Mark Salisbury Empire Magazine Woo has elevated the action movie into the realm of art. Infinitely more exciting than a dozen Die Hards, action cinema doesn't come any better than this. Rated: 4/5 Jul 27, 2023 Full Review John Anderson Newsday Woo sets a pace for himself from the outset that he can't maintain. But his action sequences are so artfully handled and his sense of humor is so outrageous that it's difficult not to be tickled, and thrilled. Rated: 3.5/4 Jul 27, 2023 Full Review Rene Rodriguez Miami Herald Hard-Boiled is, above all, cinema for cinema's sake. Film buffs will be able to rattle off a list of influences on Woo here and cheer at Woo's unapologetic extravagances. Rated: 3.5/4 Jul 27, 2023 Full Review John Powers L.A. Weekly Director John Woo's fifth collaboration with Hong Kong superstar Chow Yun-Fat is so deliriously action-packed that it verges on, and sometimes succumbs to, self-parody. Jul 27, 2023 Full Review Gary Thompson Philadelphia Daily News It's not for all tastes, but Hard-Boiled provides a rare opportunity for action fans to see the work one of the genre's contemporary masters. Rated: 3.5/4 Jul 27, 2023 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

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Nico B It might be one of the best straight forward action movies of all time, maybe the best. The action holds up insanely well and the friendship between the 2 main characters was more believable than in the killer. Overall just amazing, only the acting is weak sometimes. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 04/14/24 Full Review Max A Hard Boiled is maybe the most over-the-top action film ever created, with great action sequences — both armed and hand-to-hand — and a seemingly neverending stream of violence when things finally get going. One of the things that jump out to me is how they don't rely on constant cuts during the hand-to-hand fight scenes, a thing that Hollywood has somehow fallen in love with. Fortunately, Hong Kong knows better. Despite Chow Yun-fat having the main role, I have to agree with most people in that Tony Leung Chiu-wai was the true star of the film. His charisma and delivery are unmatched. Teresa Mo was also pretty good in her role! One of the aspects that may not hold up today is the transitions used in the film. Nowadays, those kind of transitions are mostly reserved for middle school PowerPoint presentations. However, I can understand John Woo's motivation. They can certainly leave an impression. If you could only watch one Hong Kong film ever I would probably recommend this one. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 01/05/24 Full Review Alec B What it lacks in convincing characters, it more than makes up for with insane/brilliant action sequences. Woo threw anything resembling realism out the door, but unlike some of his later stuff, the endless gun battles in "Hard Boiled" never get tedious. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 11/10/23 Full Review larrykohut L Hard boiled. In hard boiled a cop his partner is killed in the line of duty against gangs . So he wants to get them all and find there ring leader and take him out. He teams up with another cop to take them down. Hard boiled was filmed in hong Kong. The action scenes are well done 👍 and maybe a little unbelievable but it's an action movie so not everything can be fully believable with the stunts. The action regardless is solid . Overall a great time and a great movie. But it's not in English so u gotta find the DVD with English subtitles if you can't understand Chinese like me . I recommend it if your a fan of action movies. Christian perspective/ parents discretion Violence . Is strong and in 95 percent of the movie the bullets and the hand to hand combat are everywhere in this movie . Violence is strong Language bastard used a few times but you wouldn't know unless you watch it in English possibly a d or h word said as well. No religious profanities. Sex / drug references no sex but drugs there is smoking of cigarettes and cigars . Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 09/11/23 Full Review Allan C This classic Hong Kong action flick has lost some of its luster since it first came out, having been endlessly imitated by bigger budgeted and more slickly made movies in years since, but it is still great. Director John Woo has his usual star Chow Yun Fat playing (the ridiculously named) Officer Tequila, hot on the trail of a group of gunrunners, but little does Tequila know that one of those gunrunners is another cop deep undercover, played by the great Tony Leung (the art house Tony of CHUNGKING EXPRESS fame, not action HK action star Tony of BETTER TOMORROW 3 or PRISON ON FIRE). Chow is terrific, as always, playing a cocky and tough-as-nails cop, but it's Leung who brings real depth to his part and elevates the material to something more than just a series of action set pieces. You can feel Tony's inner turmoil being torn between two worlds. Even watching the English Dub track (which I did for this viewing on the Criterion release) his performance stands out. But the real hero of HARD-BOILED is director Woo. The action set pieces are the biggest of his Hong Kong career to that point before he'd move to Hollywood, and they are spectacular! The stunt work in this film, along with most of Hong Kong action cinema, is utterly jaw-dropping. There's an element of real danger when you watch a lot of Hong Kong films HARD-BOILED is no exception. You can watch fire explosion blasts really blow past Chow Yun Fat, stunt men taking real falls onto hard surfaces, and much more. It's wild! HARD-BOILED also stands apart from its Hollywood imitators in the level of bloodshed and also in the amount of civilian collateral damage, which is still shocking to watch. It's something mainstream Hollywood still is hesitant to touch. But on the downside, the story and characters lacked the depth of Woo's THE KILLER, though Leung does make a valiant effort to elevate the material. Also, rewatching the film years later from when it originally came out and after being endlessly imitated by just about every Hollywood action film since the film is not as impressive as it once was. Heroes with two pistols, objects exploding everywhere from gunfire, Mexican standoffs, frequent use of slow motion [sure Kurosawa and Peckinpah did the first, but Woo brought it back into style]; that all came from Woo and other Hong Kong filmmakers. But having seen all this done in American films now all the time, HARD-BOILED has lost something. Much like THE EXORCIST, which redefined modern horror films, having been endlessly imitated since it does not have the same punch it did back in 1973. THE EXORCIST and HARD-BOILED are both still great films, but they don't make your head explode the same way they did when they first came out. The Hong Kong style of action didn't immediately sweep Hollywood, though there were a few smaller budgeted American action films, like THE CROW and RAPID FIRE, that did a pretty good job of bringing the Hong Kong action film aesthetic to the States, but it was the success of THE MATRIX that forever changed how American action films looked, moving away from the more muscular action film style of Walter Hill or Richard Donner to the more operatic and balletic style of action scene choreography popularized by Hong Kong masters such as John Woo, Tsui Hark, and Ringo Lam. There never would have been a JOHN WICK without John Woo. Another knock on this film, there's the awkward comedy. I'd forgotten about the ridiculous moment in the climactic hospital action set piece (which goes on for almost an entire glorious hour!), where Officer Tequila and his girlfriend put cotton balls in the babies' ears so they are not traumatized by all the gunfire and mayhem happening around them. There's also the ridiculous, but very typical Hong Kong film humor when Tequila's pants catch fire, and he's saved by a baby he's carrying wetting itself to extinguish the flames and save our hero. Still, even though it's not as mind-blowing as it was back in 1987 (I didn't see it until the early 90s), the action set pieces have a dynamite creative, and exciting energy to them, and when was the last time you saw a Hollywood movie where there's a real-life baby splattered with blood when our hero is shot? This film is probably my third favorite of Woo's films, with THE KILLER being #1 and A BETTER TOMORROW II being my #2 favorite. Essential viewing for action film fans! Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 08/14/23 Full Review acsdoug D Unlike most people (apparently, given the 92% RT score) I thought the film was too unrealistic to be thought of as a cinema classic. You know, it's hard enough to hit something when firing one pistol while standing still and taking the time to aim. In Woo's films there are guys flying through the air, sliding down banisters and swooping in on cables firing two guns at once and hitting everything they're aiming at. And no one ever reloads. I'm probably overthinking it. Anyway, I think there are much better cop movies out there. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 08/09/23 Full Review Read all reviews

My Rating


Cast & Crew

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Movie Info

Synopsis A cop who loses his partner in a shoot-out with gun smugglers goes on a mission to catch them. In order to get closer to the leaders of the ring he joins forces with an undercover cop who's working as a gangster hitman. They use all means of excessive force to find them.
John Woo
Terence Chang, Linda Kuk
Barry Ping-Yiu Wong, John Woo
Production Co
Golden Princess Film Production Limited, Milestone Pictures
Original Language
Release Date (Theaters)
Jan 1, 1992, Wide
Release Date (DVD)
Oct 27, 2003
2h 6m
Sound Mix
Stereo, Mono
Aspect Ratio
Flat (1.85:1)
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