John Woo's Bullet in the Head is different to the other films I've seen by the director. The plot is about three best friends from Hong Kong who have to flee the country after getting into trouble with the police and end up going to Vietnam during the war, hoping to get rich amongst the chaos.
Woo's work is often sentimental, and there's no change here, with that critical theme of brotherhood being at the forefront once more. What's different about this one then, is that most of the action is here to shock not thrill. It's less stylish than The Killer (which I believe was released in the same year), and in some scenes is legitimately harrowing. All of the style seems to be there to aid the story, not for you to marvel at the technical feats of it all; the visceral punch is just too strong. The plot gets heavy but you go through such a journey with the characters that you believe in them even when the events get more outlandish. Tony Leung is great, so much so that I wish I'd seen this before rewatching Hard Boiled. Oh well, I think it's impossible to watch that movie too many times.
Some have proclaimed Bullet in the Head as Woo's masterpiece, and while I'm not sure that's the case (it being tricky to say this fiom is better than The Killer or Hard Boiled while they are both more enjoyable by design), it does make some of his other stuff like Windtalkers seem tame by comparison. This was an interesting watch for sure.