Ten HARD BOILED Moments - The Best of John Woo

Ah, John Woo. It's sad that nowadays he's the butt of jokes from cinephiles and remembered for the likes of Paycheck. But to someone who grew up admiring his gangster films in the late 80s/early 90s, there is no better action director out there. His movies always have some of the most balls-on-walls sequences, and to fans, no man in the history of arms has ever held a gun more beautifully than Chow Yun Fat.

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Ah, John Woo. It's sad that nowadays he's the butt of jokes from cinephiles and remembered for the likes of Paycheck. But to someone who grew up admiring his gangster films in the late 80s/early 90s, there is no better action director out there. His movies always have some of the most balls-on-walls sequences, and to fans, no man in the history of arms has ever held a gun more beautifully than Chow Yun Fat.

In celebration of the game Stranglehold, which is due for a release at the end of the month, we're listing the top ten moments in John Woo films that can only be described as "Hard Boiled." These are your most intense, memorable, badass, cool, weird, hilarious, ridiculous and all-around f-cking awesome scenes.


Tangled Up in Blue
From: Windtalkers

All right, the movie itself is a war-torn piece of crap, but there are a few over-the-top action scenes that impress (although completely out of place in a war drama). In one memorable moment during a battle sequence, the American grunts jumped over a barbed wire fence by having one soldier lie on it while the others launched off his back (guy's hardcore!). The clincher, though, is when one jumping soldier got shot mid-air and fell into a mess of barbed wire, getting all tangled like a rag doll.


"Goddammit, don't play chicken with a goddamn jet!"
From: Face/Off

That legendary line came from Robert Wisdom, who so eloquently summarized why this particular moment belongs on this list. In the film's first action sequence, Nic Cage was trying to escape on his private jet with the FBI hot on his tail. John Travolta appeared in a hummer from the other direction of the runway and did the most logical thing he could think of to stop the plane from taking off: He challenged it to a game of chicken. The balls on that guy. He lost, of course, since Cage just kept on going in his 2 ton aircraft... but still. Big balls.


The Swords That Cut the Wind
From: Last Hurrah For Chivalry

Early in John Woo's career, long before he did Face/Off, he made a handful of kung fu pics. Last Hurrah proves to be one of the more memorable of the bunch, about two master swordsmen who were orchestrated to cross each other's path. There were many great fights in the film, but one intensely gratifying one was the 5 minute unbelievable sword duel, filmed in a minimalist style by Woo. In wide angle, the film showed blow by blow the impressive moves the two swordsmen could muster.

Shoot 'N Slide
From: Hard Boiled

Hard Boiled, to this day, is still the mother of all action movies, and it's jam-packed with one insane shootout after another; so believe me when I say that it's hard to choose just one moment. However, the opening shootout in the tea house is fantastic because it sets up the rest of the film. When the bad guy tried to run past a crowd of innocents, he shooed them out of the way the only way a villain could: by shooting them down. It's not often that dozens of innocent bystanders get killed so casually in American action films, so this sequence let you know right up front how hardcore the movie is. The best part? Undoubtedly when Chow Yun-Fat got past the crowd on a stairway in a more creative way: by sliding down the handrail, guns still blazing.


Jean-Claude Van Damme Punches A Snake
From: Hard Target

There are many reasons why this scene stood out, although you can already see the money shot by the picture supplied. While being chased by Lance Henriksenn's goons through the New Orleans swamps, Van Damme told the girl he's saving to close her eyes. It looked like a romantic moment was about to happen, but Van Damme instead snatched a snake from a tree and punched it in the face. What came after was both confusing and hilarious: he bit the snake's tail off, and then used it as a booby trap to kill one of the goons. Why did he have to bite the snake's tail off? Beats me. But it rocks.


You know when you laugh so hard that...
From: A Better Tomorrow

In this landmark John Woo movie that started his and Chow Yun Fat's notorious collaboration into the realm of badass gunfights, Chow played a gangster crippled and forced to retire as a lowly janitor, and when a rival gang came hounding after him, they kicked the holy tar out of the poor sap in a gory beatdown that had Chow bleeding from all orifice. The grossest moment came when the gang boss punched Chow right on the nose, and John Woo showed, in glorious slow motion, how blood shoots out of his nose like milk.


"I feel very sorry for my rice..."
From: A Better Tomorrow II

Few scenes are as memorable as this one. In a moment that introduced Chow Yun Fat's character in the film, Woo showed how the guy's not just a regular manager of a Chinese restaurant, by having him confront two Mafia thugs who were trying to strongarm him for protection money. The scene featured a great exchange between them that is still to this day, the best use of fried rice in a film. All the talk in the world can't describe how awesome this scene is, so just watch Chow Yun Fat at his over-the-top best:

Deer Hunter Is For Pussies
From: Bullet in the Head

John Woo's movies is known for two things: gunplay and homoerotic melodrama. Basically the two main ingredients of a macho action movie, but Woo is the absolute best in squeezing the most out of those two elements. Set against the Vietnam war, Bullet in the Head is all about melodrama. The story follows three friends who ran away to Saigon to avoid a vengeful gang back home and ended up getting involved in the war. In an intense POW camp sequence, the Vietcong suspected the three of being CIA. Jackie Cheung, the most innocent of the bunch and a newlywed before trouble forced them to flee Hong Kong, was forced to execute American GIs for the Vietcong's amusement. Crying and begging at first, Cheung grew more and more disturbed with each kill. It's a very emotional scene... and then the Marines showed up and napalmed the shit out of the camp.


Chow Yun-Fat is PISSED... OFF!
From: The Killer

During the climactic church shootout in John Woo's masterpiece cinema The Killer, Jeff's (Chow Yun-Fat) best friend Sidney was fatally shot by the evil gang boss after risking his life and dignity to get Jeff's money. Sydney begged Jeff not to let him die like a dog, and Jeff wept as he put a bullet in his buddy's head. The following shot as Jeff stood up and tied his wound in slow motion was the most badass moment in a badass movie to begin with, because even if you haven't seen the film before, you know that he's about to grab a shotgun in one hand, a machine gun in the other, and shoot up five dozen baddies in cold blood.


Pure absolute craziness
From: A Better Tomorrow II

What better way to top a list like this than one of the best action sequences ever made? In this 10 minute free-for-all, John Woo proved why he is indeed the master of cinematic gunfights. It's as if he knew that the movie itself was pretty bad, so he decided to end it with the craziest action scene he could think of to make up for it. This scene alone had about 10 hard boiled moments in it. The set-up is simply this: After one of their own was killed, the good guys stormed the bad guys' mansion, where apparently every single henchman ever hired were gathering, to avenge their friend's death. The result was a ridiculous bloodbath that is the very definition of overkill. When you watch this, see if you can add up the bodycount.

Aug
20
2007

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