TV & Film
John Hudson returns to the show to discuss one of director John Woo’s greatest achievements.
The Hong Kong genre known as ‘Heroic Bloodshed’ was born out of a desire to move away from martial arts action stories and to present a different vision of the modern criminal underclass. Triad tales quickly became the Hong Kong version of American gangster movies with the addition of the viciousness being turned up to eleven! At the forefront of this movement was John Woo, who employed slow motion shots and graphic bullet hits in ways not seen since the days of Sam Peckinpah’s ‘beautiful violence’ movies such as THE WILD BUNCH (1969). And, like Peckinpah, Woo built his films around tales of men of violence trying to forge a path through a world that often rejects them because of their bloody ways. The films are exciting and tense but with a sympathetic core that serves to enhance their emotional effect on the viewer. The characters in a John Woo film are not just cartoon heroes and villains set In place to fight each other for our amusement. They become people we are invested in seeing succeed even as we harbor doubts about their motivations. Violently complex, perhaps?
After a brief look at how we first encountered HARD BOILED (1992) Hudson and I dig into the film to find the things that still impress us nearly thirty years later. The movie’s rollercoaster ride structure and protracted final ‘cops vs gangsters’ battle make up a lot of our conversation but we also remark on the acting that sells the central character’s internal conflicts. Our personal history with collecting the film is a topic as well as the ways we sought out Woo’s earlier gangster movies from bootleggers. Hudson’s tale of seeking guidance from a professional to obtain the film’s soundtrack CD is a surprise and ties strangely into his recent rewatch of NYPD Blue! Connections are often in the oddest places.
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