Bullet In The Head

Bullet In The Head is a 1990 Hong Kong action film written, produced, edited and directed by John Woo, and starred Tony Leung, Jacky Cheung, Waise Lee and Simon Yam.[1]

A school-girl puts one foot in front of another, and falls over. She gets up confidently, puts one foot in front of another again, and stumbles into a rioting mob being heavily suppressed by police, before falling over. Then, having learnt her lesson, she recovers herself whilst sitting on an unexploded bomb. In due course she stands up, puts one foot in front of another, and falls over as the bomb explodes behind her. Her husband, nee school-aged paramour runs away to Vietnam with his friends.

Sometime later, in Vietnam, the three friends come across a nightclub singer who looks uncannily like the school-girl (but wasn’t), she’d ran away to Vietnam to make her fortune and stumbled into a life of prostitution and a forced heroin habit. Two of the friends fall in love with her at first sight (including the married one), unfortunately every time they speak to her she gets punished and shot up with more heroin to incapacitate her. They soon make friends with another Hong Kong ex-pat who’d already fallen in love with her but keeps his distance. Together they try to rescue her, but in her drugged state everytime she puts one foot in front of another she falls over, and either she gets shot, or one of the friends gets shot, or their boat sinks, or she drowns, or they get shot again, or captured and tortured by the Viet Cong or just blown-up full-stop. She did fall over a lot.

The new additional friend makes the mistake of wearing a white suit into a gun-battle only halfway through the film, and miraculously survives. But later on, wearing military fatigues he loses an arm and half his face, off-camera.

The friend that hasn’t fallen in love with anyone, steals some gold from the girl’s pimp and becomes obsessed with holding on to it, despite all the odds – even shooting one of his friends in the head to get away from the Viet Cong with it. He eventually makes his way back to Hong Kong with the gold, only to then give it back to the pimp in return for being set up as a gangster.

The married friend, who’d been left for dead after a military raid on the Viet-Cong to rescue them and other prisoners, is eventually found and brought back to health by some passing monks. In time, he makes his way back to Saigon to find his now one-armed friend looking after his long-time best friend with the hole in his head. Unable to cope with his best friend’s condition, he opts to put another bullet in his head – this time, finishing the job. He burns the body and takes the two-holed skull back home. He asks the newest friend if he wants to return with him, but having just adapted to life with one arm and half his face missing, and having just re-aligned himself to post-war living in Saigon, he says he’s too old to change his ways and opts to stay.

He goes home and finds his wife had fallen over and had a baby while he was away. Taking stock of his new responsibilities, he immediately heads uptown and taunts his gangster friend in front of his associates by waving the two-holed skull around. They spend the rest of the film chasing each other, ramming cars into each other, shooting each other, and blowing each other up. The unmarried friend dies and the two-holed skull is left behind, as the married friend walks off into a quieter future without any friends, and only his wife’s lack of balance to cause disruption.

A weirdly diluted version of Happy Birthday keeps getting played in the background. It’s annoying.Not the most annoying thing in the film, but still…

[1] wikipedia.org. Bullet in the Head. Retrieved 26 November 2017.

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