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Masterpiece gets the DVD treatment it deserves - almost...
on 22 July 2004
BULLET IN THE HEAD
[Die Xie Jie Tou]
(Hong Kong - 1990)
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Theatrical soundtrack: Mono
Fleeing from a murder rap during the political turmoil of 1960's Hong Kong, three devoted friends (Tony Leung Chiu-wai, Jacky Cheung Hok-yau and Waise Lee Chi-hung) seek their fortunes in war-torn Vietnam and are ripped apart by greed and betrayal.
John Woo's ambitious movie - an operatic valentine to his youth in HK and his love of David Lean epics, and a response to the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 - went over-schedule and flopped at the local box-office when released in 1990, but has since been recognized as one of the finest productions in HK film history. Newcomers Leung, Cheung and Lee are terrific as the three friends whose lives are devastated by the violence they encounter in a foreign land, and they're matched throughout by Simon Yam Tat-wah as the Eurasian hitman who rescues them from the worst of their experiences.
For all its explosions and gunplay, however, BULLET IN THE HEAD is a very human drama, played out against the vast backdrop of the Vietnam conflict, and invested with a palpable sense of love and compassion for its leading characters. Cinematography and editing are world-class, and Woo's dark-hearted script (co-written by Patrick Leung Pak-kin and Janet Chin) incorporates the themes of loyalty and brotherhood which have shaped and defined all of his films since A BETTER TOMORROW (1986). Cheung's final scene is absolutely heartbreaking; classic score by James Wong Jim and Romeo Diaz.