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Bullet in the Head

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16 reviews: 4.41/5

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109 reviews: 4.37/5

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Ordell Robbie 4.5 Its title says it all...
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Its title says it all...

But even though Bullet in the Head is not a masterpiece of the scale of The Killer, simply because it is not well edited -but we could excuse Woo because he had to reduce quickly to a conventional length a 3 hour epic due to catastrophic test screenings, unfortunately the Director's Cut is lost forever-, the photography is not as coherent as in the Workshop's Woo films and mostly because characters are caricatural, especially Jacky Cheung as the romantic naive and Waise Lee as the greedy guy. Moreover, even at a Hong Kong scale, the actors are overplaying. But it is its excesses that contribute to the emotional force of the movie: overplaying underlines the drama and the emphasis helps being concerned emotionnally by this tragic story of a friendship's end. Drama. We're right where the movie wins it all. Bullet in the Head's emphasis achieves its goal. And it achieves it thanks to ROMANCE: the glamour female singer, the postcard France -Montand, Deneuve-, the lady carried on the water. On the other hand, the screenplay is treating remarkably male friendship, paying tribute to and rivalring with Huston's movies (the Treasure of the Sierra Madre but other directors quoted in the movie include Robert Wise, Nicholas Ray, Fritz Lang, Michael Cimino, Sam Peckinpah). So it belongs to this category of movies (including El Topo or some Herzog's movies) which are more important than their cinematographic qualities. A Bullet in the Head is a melodrama more moving than Sirk, more moving than Almodovar, more moving than John Huston, more moving than the Umbrellas of Cherbourg, in a word the most moving tragedy in cinema history: so it deserves the maximum note.

14 September 2002
by Ordell Robbie

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