City on Fire

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sun Sep 19 09:55:26 MDT 1999

>Michael and Lisa spoke at a Hong Kong twin bill at the Anthology of Film
>Archives yesterday afternoon. In the audience was Doug Henwood, who told me
>that he had never seen a Hong Kong movie before. I assured him that he
>would at least find the experience unforgettable. There would be no
>mistaking John Woo's "Bullet to the Head," which Doug squirmed through from
>beginning to end, for an Eric Rohmer movie.

Oh, I laughed between squirms too. The violence was so extraordinary
it was hard to know how to take it. The gender politics of the movie
were quite strange - there were only two women of any consequence in
the cast, and both were near-mute ciphers; Sally, the singer, gets
hauled around by the antiheroes as a near-corpse after she's shot in
the gut by a major gangster honcho. And the men bond with each other
through their guns - the relation between men becomes the relation
between their weapons. In a scene towards the end, one of the major
characters shoots his long-time friend (and of course we get to see
the formation of the exit wound in full bloodspray detail) to put him
out of his misery because he had a bullet in his head that was placed
there by another of the main characters, the greedy-evil Paul.
Amazing stuff.

Doug Henwood

Louis Proyect

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