The emperor of action movies, John Woo, is back
He is a legend of action movies, John Woo had not given any sign of life for years. Before reappearing last November with a Hollywood film project: “Silent Night”. In Montreal for the Fantasia festival, the Chinese director gives more information on this new project, among others…
Since the 1960s, the Hong Kong film industry has shown its talent and influence to the rest of the world. However, few artists have been able to achieve success in their own country and in the United States at the same time. John Woo is one of those exceptions, being both respected in the Middle Kingdom and across the Atlantic. Indeed, he was revealed in the mid-80s when he directed The Crime Syndicate, in which he collaborated for the first time with the actor who would become his favorite: Chow-Yun Fat.
John Woo and Chow-Yun Fat shine in the eyes of the world, in front of and behind the camera. And this thanks to masterpieces such as The Killer and Foolproof. John Woo’s flashy style of slow motion and stylized gunfights attracted the interest of international festivals and American directors who would promote him (such as Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino).
From being a simple director, he became the king of Hong Kong action cinema. John Woo then set himself the challenge of becoming a prominent director in Hollywood. If the beginnings are complicated (his Manhunt with Jean-Claude Van Damme has mixed reviews), he later knows success with Broken Arrow, Volte/Face and Mission Impossible 2.
Unfortunately, the sequel is more complicated and the flops will follow one another, to the point of returning to China to renew success with the Three Kingdoms.
In recent years, the director John Woo has been very rare, his latest productions proving to be very anecdotal. That’s why his appearance at the Fantasia Film Festival is a real event.
John Woo was present in Montreal to receive a lifetime achievement award, John Woo took the opportunity to give an exclusive interview to Deadline, in between the screenings of his films Fearless and Steal/Face. A few months ago, the director had surprised his world by announcing his return to Hollywood with the film Silent Night, starring Joel Kinnaman.
John Woo admitted during the interview that his motivation to make this film was linked to the fact that he did not receive any really interesting project in China (his last realization goes back to 2017 with Manhunt), he acknowledges however to have accepted the script of Silent Night, because it did not include any dialogue.
John Woo was quite pessimistic about the current state of Hong Kong cinema, which lacks funding and creativity according to him, the filmmaker however intends to make a film that will bridge the gap between Chinese and Western culture. It is true that in a current situation where Sino-American relations have never been so bad, a film like this would be welcome:
He mentioned that there are a few stories he is working on. One of them is inspired by a true story: that of a Chinese man, Dean Lung, who worked as a domestic in New York in the 1870s. He donated all his savings to Columbia University so that it could set up courses in Chinese language and culture. Then he convinced his master to be a donor as well. Today, he still has his picture displayed at Columbia, and the classes still exist. Let’s hope that stories like this one can help both sides understand each other.
During the interview, John Woo also talked about another of his projects that is highly anticipated by his fans: the American remake of The Killer. Released in 1989, the feature film was an international bomb, influencing filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.