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Bullet in the Head (Die xue jie tou) (1990)

  Directed by: John Woo
Written by: Janet Chun, Patrick Leung, John Woo
Starring: Jacky Cheung, Waise Lee, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Simon Yam
Links: Bullet in the Head on the IMDb, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD
Genre: Action

This movie gets: 10.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

""This is a fucked up world!"" - a review by timchuma

In late 1960's Hong Kong, three best friends - Ben, Frank and Paul seem to be having a great time hanging around together and getting in fights.

Ben wants to settle down however, so he gets married. The only problem is that he doesn't have the money to pay for the reception, so Frank runs off to the local loan shark to get it.

On the way back he runs afoul of some local thugs and cops a bottle in the head. He still manages to clean himself up a bit and make the wedding party though.

Later that night, Ben sees Frank's head is still bleeding and doesn't believe his excuse that he 'fell in the gutter'. (He proves this by banging his head against the wall.)

Together they decide to go deal with the thug that injured Frank, but they get a bit too overenthusiastic with their beating and the thug dies.

Knowing they are in big trouble, the friends decide to flee Hong Kong, but not before Ben says goodbye to his wife in the middle of a Communist demonstration that is violently repressed by the police.

A shady character later sets the three up with goods to be smuggled to a crime boss in Vietnam.

Only a couple of minutes off the boat in Saigon and they are forced to flee their taxi due to a suicide bomber. They then witness first-hand the military's brutal approach to justice.

Seeing this makes up Paul's mind: he needs a gun. Once he gets one, he gives a demonstration by robbing a store, only to be surprised by some soldiers in a jeep, who rock up and lay waste to the next door jewellery store with a heavy calibre machine gun, before looting it.

Later that night at the club that the local crime boss owns, they meet Mike, who agrees to help them get out of Vietnam. Ben also meets Sally, a once famous singer in Hong Kong, who was tricked by the crime boss into coming to Saigon and is now trapped there. She has been forced to work as a prostitute and drugged to keep her from leaving.

The next day in the middle of a peace rally that is brutally repressed by the military, Ben finds Sally. She tells him how Mike tried to help her, but he got beat up for his trouble.

Ben agrees to help her by getting her passport back from the crime boss. Next follows the sequence where the three friends and Mike pay the crime boss a visit - which leads to the friends being forced to skull foaming mugs of piss and subsequently a four-man war against the crime boss, his cronies and the Viet-Cong...

An extemely violent, highly emotional war on celuloid. It reminded me of The Deer Hunter (1978) quite a bit (mainly the scene in the Viet-Cong camp). This movie rates high on many people's lists of their all-time favourite Hong Kong movies for good reason.

timchuma gives this movie 10 out of 10.
Review created on Fri 17 Sep 2004

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