Hard Boiled - Criterion #9

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Hard Boiled (1992) dir. John Woo | DP. Wing-Hang Wong

Much of the second half of Hard Boiled takes place within the confines of a hospital where an unending barrage of bullets, blood, bodies and several crying babies carry us to the conclusion. Slate's review will give you plenty to think about if you're looking to dig into what Woo may or may not be saying about masculinity, morality, friendship, and violence.

What really caught my eye in my first viewing of Hard Boiled was the extended tracking shot right in the middle of the epic hospital gun battle. I sat up in my seat a little as I realized one minute had passed and the shot had yet to cut. It was at about this moment when the above gif was taking place. The shot begins in front of Alan and Tequila (Chow Yun-Fat) as they maneuver through the halls taking care of bad guys. It then follows them into an elevator as they have an emotional heart-to-heart about who shot whom. The shot finishes following them out into anther hallway with more bad guys to shoot.

There are several interesting moments within the three minute shot, but I picked the moment above mostly because it appears that Chow Yun-Fat looks at the camera for a split second. Whether or not he actually looks at the camera doesn't really matter. What I like about this is that it illustrates one of the principles hammered into us in film school. Content over form. A long shot like this has so much to set up and so many moving parts, you sometimes have to land on the take that has the best content even if your star looks right into the camera.   â€”ML