7.6/10
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62 user 48 critic

Bullet in the Head (1990)

Dip huet gai tau (original title)
Not Rated | | Action, Crime, Drama | 17 August 1990 (Hong Kong)
When three close friends escape from Hong Kong to war-time Saigon to start a criminal's life, they all go through a harrowing experience which totally shatters their lives and their friendship forever.

Director:

John Woo
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1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tony Chiu-Wai Leung ... Ben / Siu Bun (as Tony Chiu Wai Leung)
Jacky Cheung ... Frank / Fai Jai
Waise Lee ... Paul / Sau Ming
Simon Yam ... Luke / Lok
Yolinda Yam ... Sally Yan Sau Ching
Chung Lam ... Mr. Y.S. Leong (as Chung Lin)
Fennie Yuen ... Jane / Siu Jan
Kan-Wing Tsang Kan-Wing Tsang ... Jane's father
Hang Shuen So ... Jane's mother
John Woo ... Policeman
Hee Ching Paw ... Ben's mother
Tseng Chang ... Paul's father
San-Yan Siao San-Yan Siao ... Mr. Shing
Paco Yick Paco Yick ... Ringo (as Tin Hung Yee)
Yun Pei Yun Pei ... Frank's mother
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Storyline

In 1967, on the way to the wedding of a friend a young man is accosted by a local gang member. Later, the three friends administer justice, in the process of which the gang member is killed, so they leave Hong Kong to avoid the police and the gang. They run black market supplies to Saigon and get embroiled in the war, being arrested as Viet Cong, then later captured by the Viet Cong, and find that their friendship is tested to the limits as they try to escape. Written by Ed Sutton <esutton@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Woo based much of the film (the first act in particular) on his own experiences growing up in the slums of Hong Kong: "Our family was so poor [we] had to go to the back of restaurants for leftovers to keep from starving. The place I lived had no trees, no blue skies, no sunshine. There were buildings everywhere. It always rained...when I stepped out the front door into the alley, the junkies would be injecting themselves with heroin...when you turned around there would be people gambling. Beating each other up for ten cents...every time I walked through an alley, I assumed I was going to be beaten up. Growing up in that environment I saw only a cruel and depressed world. I was in hell too long. I tried to work out the ugliness of that world in Bullet..it was an intense experience, but very rewarding for me" See more »

Quotes

Frank: You two are my big brothers.
Paul: What does that mean? As long as we're united that's enough.
Ben: Being friends is enough! There's no division of rank between friends.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Singaporean VHS is drastically cut to approx. 90 minutes. It is missing every scene showing student demonstrations in Hong Kong, the entire POW-camp scene as well as all the scenes which had already been removed for the Hong Kong theatrical version. See more »

Connections

References Ring Around the World (1966) See more »

Soundtracks

I'm a Believer
Written by Neil Diamond
Performed by The Monkees
S.E. Asia Music
See more »

User Reviews

 
Another exuberant thrill ride from John Woo!
3 March 2005 | by The_VoidSee all my reviews

In 1989, John Woo made a film that would simultaneously redefine and reinvent the action genre forever. The film I speak of is, of course, The Killer. Blending a touching storyline with exuberant gunfights, The Killer worked through excess and it was an absolute delight to be behold. It's hard to follow up on something like that, and for his next A-class feature; Bullet in the Head, John Woo wasn't quite able to recreate that what he did so incredibly well a year earlier. However, what he has created is still an excellent thrill ride and one that fans of The Killer wont want to miss! Woo is keen to keep that gang element from The Killer, except this time he fuses it was action from the Vietnam war, and as the story spans across many different locations, it can aptly be considered an epic. We follow the stories of three young men who leave Hong Kong after two of them kill another gang member. They decide to become smugglers and take advantage of the Vietnam War, but little did they know that they would end up in the thick of it.

The film takes obvious influence from the classic Vietnam war dramas such as 'The Deer Hunter' and 'Platoon', but through Woo's stylising, it takes on a life of it's own and stands apart from those films that influenced it. Woo is known for going over the top, and seeing three men in suits in the middle of the Vietnam war is over the top alright! However, also going over the top is the sentiment and I don't know if it's just the way that Chinese translates into English or what, but this film is definitely cheesy! The sentiment boded well in The Killer, but here it definitely doesn't and the film would be a lot better if the amount of sentiment was more realistic. The sentiment messes up the characters as well as the film too, as seeing one or more of them break into great long speeches undermines the fact that they're supposed to be criminals. However, all this doesn't matter once you get into the gun battles; which are incredible to say the least. If it wasn't for the sentiment, it would have been a complete whole; but it's still a damn good movie regardless.


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Details

Country:

Hong Kong

Release Date:

17 August 1990 (Hong Kong) See more »

Also Known As:

Bullet in the Head See more »

Filming Locations:

Hong Kong, China See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (heavily cut) (video)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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