Some “Hard Boiled” Mise en scène (Part 1)


(Generally, Mise En Scene is created using Steadicam)

Mise En Scene technique in film, is often regarded as the use of continuous camera movement in a scene, or the static set up of a camera in a scene used to reveal story. However, Mise En Scene is merely french for  ” telling a story or visual theme”. Since visual themes are very heavy in film, Mise En Scene covers nine key aspects: Lighting, Set Design, Space, Composition, Costume, Make Up / Hairstyle, Acting, film stock and Aspect ratio. Mis En Scene covers everything seen in a scene, hence why the term is used to describe continuous camera movement; because the entire space and tone of a scene is revealed during shots of continuous movement.

steadicam-parts(How the “Steadicam” works)

I am going to cover the use of continues camera movement in the 1992 film Hard Boiled! Directed by John Woo, released 16 April 1992 (Hong Kong).



Mobsters are smuggling guns into Hong Kong. The police orchestrate a raid at a tea-house 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. Written by Ed Sutton <>

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. Written by Nick Hawkins <>

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. Written by L. Lim <>

Plot summaries found at:


In the famous Hospital scene of the movie we find our two protagonist in a “Shoot Em’ Up” scene, they are out numbered and out matched. The Use of Mise En Scene is used to better explain the dangerous circumstance our hero’s are in. This long shot goes 2 minutes and 40 seconds before a single cut. Notice how the film speed slows down and speeds back up again, this was done without post effects. Director John Woo, manually slowed down and sped up the camera while rolling. This scene was tried 6 times and was also supposed to be twice as long. For each take, all the ballistics had to be reset. Tony Leung, the actor in the cop suit, took ballistics to his eye and filming had to be stopped.

Director John Woo claims that there was low morale amongst the cast and crew during production. So when he told everyone about his Mise En Scene idea, it gave the cast and crew something to be excited about!


Below is the famous scene, it last from 0:07 – 2:52 without a cut. We must remember we only have the word of the film makers that what they are saying is true, but as a film enthusiast, you should always question everything. Leave a comment if you think you see a cut somewhere.

Part 2 on Mise-En-Scene techniques coming soon

Article by

-Kevin Parkinson

One comment to Some “Hard Boiled” Mise en scène (Part 1)

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