Or, 12 Hours of Terror

To be upfront and clear, Hard Boiled II is not a sequel to John Woo’s classic 1992 action film. It’s not even possible – Hard Boiled II came out two years prior in 1990. The sequel designation stems from the UK home video market, and for some reason, the title still persists on disc.

This is an often odd film, stuffed with eccentric action scenes that lack Woo’s balletic gunplay. Here, it’s filmmaking showmanship for the sake of it, with people flipping through windows after taking a punch and police so accurate, they can can hit a motorcycle’s gas tank at distance during a 50mph chase – three times in a row.

… the tone continues to let Hard Boiled II down even if the action is splendid to watch

Meanwhile, Hard Boiled II embroils itself in international politics, with Japanese terrorists invading Singapore while Hong Kong cops chase down the group. Moments of deadly serious action, including children (and sick children at that) shot point blank, intersect with slapstick comedy from action Eric Tsang and Andy Lau, both playing reluctant roles in this case. It’s all too jarring.

Returning to the politics, there’s a bizarre, even uncomfortable plot element that spins a surveillance state as a positive. Hong Kong cops praise the ability to locate citizens and easily print specific information like blood types, and it’s weirdly celebratory, not only for the help in the case, but that such data exists at all; that plays like indoctrination.

When at its peak though, Hard Boiled II finds a number of wildly creative outlets, including a brawl inside a cable car, the ludicrous street chase against a motorcycle gang, and in the closest connection to Hard Boiled, the finale takes place inside a hospital (and after the villains drive a jeep through the hallways, even running over a bed ridden patient).

While fun to watch in terms of Hong Kong action, the Japanese villains come across as aggressive stereotypes and borderline propaganda. Japan occupied Singapore during WWII, but by the mid-60s, already established a shared trade agreement. For whatever reason, Hard Boiled II seems to provoke and antagonize through this often surreal action movie formula, even putting in multiple ugly remarks about the AIDS crisis in other countries to make Singapore more appealing to viewers. That’s uncomfortable, and the tone continues to let Hard Boiled II down even if the action is splendid to watch.


A hefty grain structure isn’t kind to Hard Boiled II, but while spikes near the grit of 16mm in places, 88 Films’ compression holds firm. Hard Boiled II looks like film with only a few exceptions for the heaviest parts of the frame. The scan itself appears recent, showing sharpness and definition even if the cinematography softens slightly at the source. Dust and damage are minimized.

Flesh tones appear more on the pale side, but that doesn’t dismiss the entire color palette; that’s bright, saturated, and pure. Hard Boiled II holds a bright, even overlit aesthetic that flattens out the imagery, and loosens black levels. Clipping is common too, but again, that’s the source style.


DTS-HD plays host to this soundtrack, a roughened, scratchy source typical of Hong Kong films from this era. Stock sound effects fail to elevate the action, remaining purely theatrical. Crisper dialog still carries notable harshness. Music can deepen enough to rumble the subwoofer a tad, but that’s it for this mono material.


Frank Djeng brings his infinite expertise to a commentary track. That’s the main extra, with trailers and stills finishing up.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided by the label for review. This has not materially affected DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit DoBlu’s about us page.

Hard Boiled II: The Last Blood
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Completely unrelated to John Woo’s action classic, Hard Boiled II still has its own sense of (uneven) flair.

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