Between gunpowder, guns and architecture, why Foolproof (or Hard-Boiled) still symbolizes the best of action cinema today?
With his compatriot Tsui Hark, John Woo forever changed the face of Hong Kong cinema. If the discoveries of Crime syndicate and of The Killer Instantly propelled him to the rank of master of action, his inimitable style based on Mexican dead ends and slow motion did not fail to catch the eye in Hollywood. Woo therefore ended up emigrating to the United States in the 90s, with the mixed results that we know.
Lost in a rigid American production system, this genius of the camera found himself self-healing, giving life to often ghastly scripts. Obviously, Ecran Large will always be there to defend the misunderstood brilliance of Volte / Face, But the best is to be found elsewhere, and in this case, just before this escapade in the West.
Eager to have a field of experimentation before his departure for Uncle Sam’s country, John Woo had in mind at the beginning of the decade desires for “hard-boiled” thrillers, fed by Inspector Harry of Clint Eastwood . It must be said that with his eclectic cinephilia, the director has already reappropriated in his first films the outline of the cinema of Jean-Pierre Melville, and the eruptions of violence of Sam Peckinpah.
Despite the commercial failure ofA ball in the head in 1990, the creative freedom acquired by the author allows him to combine his various inspirations and fantasies of the seventh art. The result, released in 1992, is none other than Hard-Boiled (or Foolproof in French), whose title already reflects the intent and energy of the project: a theoretical introspection in the genre of thrillers, the perfect base for one of the greatest action films ever made.
Of worship as a bar
After having repeatedly made him play charismatic gangsters, John Woo takes his favorite actor Chow Yun-Fat to the other side of the fence, offering him the role of Inspector “Tequila” Yuen, a cop with extreme methods. which investigates a huge arms trafficking. During his investigations (understand by this that he sifts more through his enemies with bullets than his files of staples), he meets Tony, a police officer infiltrated in the cartel, and whose coverage it compromises.
A premise that could not be clearer, and which offers the opportunity to Woo to push to its limits its relationship to duality, central in its cinema. By exploring in his own way the codes of the buddy-movie, Foolproof presents a world in which it is difficult to identify the gendarmes of the thieves. It is for this reason that the filmmaker had the brilliant idea to call on the talent of Tony Leung to play the undercover agent. With her restrained tears and forced smiles, the future star ofIn the Mood for Love sublimates by its face alone the dilemmas that haunt the story.