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Hard Boiled

original title: Lat sau san taam

Comparison:

  • Hongkong double laserdisc
  • US DVD
Release: Jun 11, 2023 - Author: Sun Wukong - Translator: Sun Wukong - external link: IMDB
Hong Kong's film ratings office, despite its usual leniency when it comes to film violence, handed John Woo's action classic - both his farewell gift to Hong Kong and his entry card to Hollywood - the notorious Category III rating. Around 30 cuts were ordered to trim the film down to a more commercially viable Category II rating.

An old double laserdisc shows what Hard-Boiled probably looked like in Hong Kong cinemas. Hard-Boiled was released on laserdisc in Hong Kong in two different versions: On the one hand there is the aforementioned double LD, which is taken from a theatrical print and in which the splice marks are a clear indicator that the film itself had been tampered with, rather than cut by the distributor while the LD was being mastered. A single disc was also released, with a handful of additional story cuts being made to squeeze the film onto a single disc.

The cuts are surprisingly numerous, even on the longer double LD. While the edits during the first two-thirds of the film are still within reason, the cuts reach fever pitch during the showdown in the hospital. It's still still ways off from completely butchered versions like the old German or Korean VHS tapes, but the missing parts nevertheless add up to a whopping 6 minutes. These cuts can't be explained with censorship alone either, rather they probably represent - similar to Bullet in the Head's theatrical version - an attempt to get the film to run for less than 2 hours. Since almost all releases nowadays contain the John Woo's preferred version, this old Hong Kong (theatrical) version has faded into obscurity. High time to document the differences between this historical curiosity and Woo's preferred version.

My very special thanks goes to Woo biographer Thomas Gaschler for his immeasurable help and for his invaluable expertise of all things Woo!

43 cuts (including 5 film tears) = 6 minutes 13,6 seconds
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1:14
Alternate opening credits.
No difference in running time
Hongkong LDUS DVD



9:39
Tequila's partner accidentally shoots a teahouse chef.
0,8 sec



9:43
Tequila's partner gets riddled with bullets.
1,2 sec



16:00
Blood flows from Little Mustache's head wound.
2,8 sec



28:55
Film tear
0,6 sec



33:09
Another film tear
0,2 sec



37:32
A motorcyclist drives one of Hui's workers into a wall.
0,8 sec



42:15
It's another film tear!
0,2 sec



48:39
While Biker #2 burns, Tequila blows up a third bike with his shotgun.
13,2 sec



1:04:34
Little Ko gets beat up by Mad Dog.
10,9 sec



1:04:54
The good old BBFC commemorative cut: Little Ko's head gets bashed into a plank.
4,9 sec



1:15:03
Two guards wipe up Little Ko's blood.
7,7 sec



1:23:29
While Tequila and Tony collect the gunpowder from their bullets, they have a brief chat, with Tequila making some derogatory remarks. Tony looks duly annoyed.
16,3 sec



1:23:47
They talk a little longer.
8,2 sec

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