Hard Boiled (1992) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • Mobsters are smuggling guns into Hong Kong. The police orchestrate a raid at a teahouse where an ace detective loses his partner. Meanwhile, the two main gun smugglers are having a war over territory, and a young new gun is enlisted to wipe out informants and overcome barriers to growth. The detective, acting from inside sources, gets closer to the ring leaders and eventually must work with the inside man directly.

  • Tequila is a hard-boiled cop who loses his partner in a shoot-out with gun smugglers. In order to bring them down, Tequila must team up with an undercover cop named Tony, who goes undercover as a hired gun with a Hong Kong triad, which is run by a vicious boss named Johnny Wong.

  • A hard-boiled Hong Kong detective, who lost his partner in a gunfight, teams up with an undercover cop to stop a ruthless crime mob from smuggling guns and killing innocent people.

  • A tough-as-nails cop teams up with an undercover agent to shut down a sinister mobster and his crew.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Inspector "Tequila" Yuen is a tough Hong Kong cop whose investigative work is conducted under cover and deals mostly with illegally traded and trafficked guns. Tequila also plays clarinet in a local jazz bar. His relationship with his girlfriend is strained because of the long hours and dangerous nature of his work and his superintendent, Pang, thinks Tequila's methods are too risky.

    One night, Tequila and his partner go to a tea house to observe members of a Hong Kong gang dealing Chinese pistols. After a few minutes of surveillance, Tequila has another cop deliver tea to the gangsters' table. A bird cage is knocked from the table and samples of the Chinese pistols are revealed in the base. The gangsters begin a lengthy gun battle with the cops where several men on each side are mercilessly shot along with many innocent bystanders. Tequila himself battles holding two pistols he seized from the gangsters' stash. After dispatching several gangsters trying to escape the tea house, he finds his partner, who has trapped one of the gangsters in the kitchen. His partner has also been wounded in the exchange. Tequila pushes him away from the kitchen door and rushes in, barely avoiding heavy gunfire that kills his partner. He finally pins the man to the floor. He cold-bloodedly spits out his toothpick and shoots the man dead.

    Pang arrives on the scene and finds Tequila trying to comfort his dying partner. Pang launches a tirade at Tequila, condemning him for his recklessness, blaming him for his partner's death. He also berates Tequila for killing the man in the kitchen who was a highly-valued criminal informant working for Tequila's department.

    The next day a young man drives a sports car along a Hong Kong highway into the city. He stops at a local library, carefully using a handkerchief to avoid leaving fingerprints on the turnstile. He walks down a row of stacks and selects a large book, carrying it to a table where another man sits quietly reading. The reading man recognizes the other, calling him "Alan". After a few moments of conversation, Alan pulls a silenced pistol hidden in the book and shoots the man dead. The dead man's blood leaks all over the table, flowing around the book. Alan replaces the gun in the book after wiping his prints from it and places the book back on the shelf. The man's blood is left on the table in the shape of the book.

    Tequila investigates the murder scene and determines that the pattern of the blood must have been made by a large book. He skims the shelves and finds the book, the Complete Works of Shakespeare, and the pistol. Alan goes to the docks and boards his private sailboat. As he sits looking forlorn at having murdered another man, he makes a small origami crane and hangs it from the ceiling in his living room with several other cranes, each representing another of his kills.

    At his precinct, Tequila continues his investigation. The primary figures in the gun dealings around the city are the city's top crime family head, Mr Hoi, and an younger upstart, Johnny Wong, who is battling Hoi for control of the city. Alan turns out to be a cop under heavy cover trying to infiltrate Hoi's gang. Alan is quickly becoming burned out by the work, however Pang convinces him to see the case to its conclusion because the police are very close to finally busting Wong and Hoi. Alan in turn has been sending intel to Pang via code printed on greeting cards sent with flowers to Tequila's girlfriend Sally, who decodes the messages. Information concerning a highly secretive arms exchange involving Hoi comes through and Tequila plans to be there.

    At the meeting place, one of Hoi's warehouses, Tequila observes the incident, silently waiting to make his move. Suddenly, Johnny Wong's crew burst into the place, killing all of Hoi's henchmen. One of Wong's goons, Mad Dog, mercilessly shoots several men and waits for his boss to arrive. Wong appears and informs Hoi he'll be taking over his business dealings and territory. Alan is also at the meeting and reveals he's defected to Wong's gang. Hoi bids Alan to let his sons and closest lieutenants live, however Wong orders Alan to kill them as proof of his loyalty. Alan finally kills Hoi himself.

    At that moment, Tequila drops several smoke bombs into the warehouse and rappels down from the ceiling, firing on the gang members, provoking a fierce battle. He engages them all, forcing Wong to retreat. Tequila battles briefly with Mad Dog, finally throwing a grenade at him -- Mad Dog disappears in the blast. Searching for other surviving thugs, Tequila suddenly comes face-to-face with Alan, the two of them pointing their guns at each others heads. Tequila is the 1st to pull the trigger but the hammer falls on a spent cartridge. Alan smiles, lowers his gun and disappears into the smoke.

    Alan retreats to his boat and tends to a wound he received. Tequila returns to his precinct and begins to search for Alan in the crime database, working from a sketch of Alan's face. Pang becomes concerned, believing Tequila is getting too close to finding out the truth.

    Alan again returns to his boat after a brief meeting with Pang. A moment later, he's tackled by Tequila, who's tracked him down. Tequila seizes Alan's pistol and points it at him, demanding to know Alan's identity. Alan is reluctant to talk to Tequila but realizes that they can both bring down Wong if they work together. Just then an assassin tries to shoot Alan through a skylight -- he misses, only wounding Alan. He and Tequila join forces and kill the thugs, who are revealed to be some of Hoi's men, bent on revenge. Just as Alan kills the last thug, Wong's car arrives. Tequila jumps into the water to hide after Alan tells him he'll send him a paper crane to set up their next meeting. Wong finds the wounded Alan and rushes him to a hospital, telling him that he'll make him a high-ranking lieutenant in his crime family.

    Wong, furious at the infiltration of the meeting that ended in the gunfight, tracks down one of Tequila's informants, Foxy. Mad Dog, having survived the grenade blast, beats Foxy mercilessly as Alan watches. Wong orders Alan to kill Foxy -- as he pretends to struggle with Foxy, he slips a cigarette lighter in his shirt pocket. When he shoots him, the bullet hits the lighter. Foxy falls into the water, seemingly dead.

    Foxy is taken to the hospital where he's met by Tequila. Foxy tells Tequila that Johnny Wong is storing a large cache of weapons in a hidden room at the hospital. Tequila decides to move Foxy to another room, knowing Wong will send someone to finish Foxy. Alan arrives to carry out the order, shooting at an empty bed, with the pillows arranged like someone sleeping under the sheets. Alan kills both of Wong's escorts and meets with Tequila. However, Mad Dog, disguised as a doctor, finds Foxy and slashes his throat.

    Tequila and Alan, working on Foxy's tip, report to the morgue. After taking down the men Wong has stationed there, they find the entrance tunnel to Wong's hidden weapons room. Tequila is able to blow open an electrical conduit but is unsure of how to proceed. Alan grabs two cables and jams them together, electrocuting himself and opening the door. Mad Dog immediately opens fire. Tequila is able to revive Alan and the two take on Mad Dog. Mad Dog gains the upper hand and traps them in the room. The two cops arm themselves and use explosives to escape the room.

    Sally finds a rose in her coat pocket, a signal from Tequila to have their captain call for backup. An army of cops arrive on the scene and a fierce battle erupts. The cops futilely try to protect the patients caught in the crossfire but many are killed. Tequila and Alan shoot their way through Wong's thugs, at one point tracking them through two floors of the hospital. Alan squares off against Mad Dog and kills him. Tequila assists Sally with evacuating the infants in the maternity ward.

    Eventually, Alan is found by Wong himself and held hostage while Wong humiliates Tequila outside the hospital. Alan, severely injured, manages to overpower Wong, receiving another gunshot wound but allowing Tequila to shoot Wong through the eye. Alan finally collapses from his injuries and passes out.

    Another funeral is held for Alan. Sally and Tequila find their relationship rekindled and Tequila goes back to playing in his friend's jazz bar. Alan is seen sailing away on his boat, seemingly for Antarctica.

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