Bullet in the Head (1990)Director: John Woo
Starring: Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Jacky Cheung, Waise Lee
Tagline: "This is a fucked up world!"
In late 1960's Hong Kong, three best friends - Ben (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai), Frank (Jacky Cheung) and Paul (Waise Lee) 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 fowl 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'.
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.
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. He comes up with a plan to try and save her and get back at the crime boss at the same time, will it work?
This celluloid battlefield is regarded by many fans as the definitive Hong Kong movie about the Vietnam war for good reason. Eastern Condors may have had a bigger cast, but wasn't as emotionally intense as this film and this movie does not play for laughs.
It does borrow some scenes from the Deer Hunter, but manages to kick it up a notch while not sliding into tortured melodrama.
I haven't seen this movie for a few years now, but I am sure it has maintained its impact even with all the new action films released recently.
Rating : 10/10