Action movies are like the heavy metal of cinema: brash, loud, obvious and bit cheesy and fucking awesome. I read a Werner Herzog quote that went something like ‘I’d rather watch a good king-fu movie than Jean Luc Godard’, or something like that. It’s in this book. He also says Mad Max rules, which is a good call, too. I like that. He’s saying that action, kung-fu, horror etc is like the red meat basics of cinema.
Hollywood hasn’t done a good action movie since the ’70s. The Dark Knight was Ok, but if it were a band, it would be the Smashing Pumpkins. Oh, and The Terminator and T2 get an honourable mention. They’re Motorhead. Hong Kong on the other hand… Hong Kong is like early Metallica, or classic Slayer. And before he went to Hollywood to churn out lame gash like Broken Arrow, John Woo was Rick Rubin.
His two best films from then are Hard Boiled and The Killer. And some generous soul has posted them on YouTube in 10 minute segments. These movies show the Hollywood action flicks up for the overblown, overproduced pieces of shit that they are. John Woo makes violence look like a ballet and the stars Chow Yun Fat and Tony Leung are way more beleivable than muscle bound dickheads like Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme (who went on to star in Woo’s lame Hard Target).
I’ve put the first two sections of Hard Boiled up because the shootout at the tea house is a classic of Hong Kong cinema. If it were a song it would be Raining Blood (literally).
Watch Hard Boiled
Watch The Killer (Watch the second one listed – unless you can read Korean subtitles)