John Woo Yu-Sen (born May 1, 1946) is an internationally and critically acclaimed Chinese film director and producer. Woo is widely known for his stylised movies which are renowned for their balletic action sequences, Mexican standoffs, and use of slow-motion. He directed the notable Hong Kong action films, A Better Tomorrow, Hard Boiled, and The Killer. His English-language movies include Hard Target, Broken Arrow, Face/Off, and Mission: Impossible 2. As a young boy, Woo wanted to be a Christian minister; he later found a passion for movies influenced by European film, the French New Wave and Jean-Pierre Melville. Woo has said he was shy and had difficulty speaking, but found making movies a way to explore his feelings and thinking and would "use movie as a language". Woo cites his three favorite films as Lawrence of Arabia, Seven Samurai and Melville's Le Samouraï. He also created the comic series Seven Brothers, published by Virgin Comics. Woo was described by Dave Kehr in The Observer in 2002 as "arguably the most influential director making movies today".
In order to escape his dismal surroundings, Woo would retreat to the local movie theater. Woo found his respite through musicals like The Wizard of Oz. During his youth, he enjoyed watching Western movies, especially the final scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid where the two comrades run out gun blazing (where he got the inspiration of holding two guns). Woo is also a fan of Hollywood musicals.
Woo married Annie Woo Ngau Chun-lung in 1976 and has had three children. He plans to continue living in the United States.
By the mid-1980s, Woo suffered a burnout. His films were failures at the box office and he retreated to Taiwan in exile. John Woo—once called the new comedy king of Hong Kong—seemed to be on his way out. It was then that director/producer Tsui Hark provided the funding for Woo to film a longtime pet project called A Better Tomorrow (1986).
The story of two brothers—one a cop, the other a criminal—the film became a sensational blockbuster. A Better Tomorrow singularly redefined Hong Kong action cinema with its emotional drama, slow-motion gun-battles and gritty atmosphere. The film's trenchcoat/sunglasses fashion sense, and combat style of using a gun in each hand in close quarters—often referred to as "gun fu"—would later inspire American filmmakers such as Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino and the Wachowski brothers.
Together with leading man Chow Yun-Fat, John Woo would make several more Heroic Bloodshed films in the late 1980s and early 1990s. His violent gangster thrillers typically focused on men who were steadfast in their honor and friendship, even though such values forced them to become outcasts in a rapidly-changing world that was more motivated by money and progress. In this respect, Woo's characters were modern-day knights who wielded guns instead of swords. He was heavily influenced by the films of French director Jean-Pierre Melville.
The most famous of these movies would be The Killer (1989), which brought Woo international recognition and began the Triad film movement. Often named as the best Hong Kong movie ever made, it was widely praised by critics and fans for its action sequences, acting and cinematography. With The Killer becoming the most successful Hong Kong film in the U.S. since Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon (1973), John Woo became a cult favorite. One year later he made another masterpiece, Bullet in the Head, that he still considers his most personal work. The movie was a major commercial failure compared to the other films however.
It was only a matter of time before Hollywood took notice. By this time, John Woo had many American admirers, including the likes of Martin Scorsese, and Sam Raimi - who compared Woo's mastery of action to Hitchcock's mastery of suspense. Enormously impressed with his work, American executives green-lighted a contract for Woo to work in America. With the 1997 handover of Hong Kong fast approaching, Woo decided that it was indeed time to leave.
John Woo's last Hong Kong film was Hard Boiled (1992), which he made as an antithesis to his movies that glorified gangsters. Upping the ante with an all-out action film, it featured a Hollywood-scale spectacle in its second half with policemen and criminals waging war inside a hospital, while helpless patients are caught in the crossfire. The sequence lasted nearly 30 minutes. There is a long take in this scene which follows Tequila and Alan go from one floor to another. It lasts 2 minutes and 42 seconds. On the Criterion DVD and laserdisc, this chapter is called 2 minutes, 42 seconds. The film climaxes with supercop Chow Yun-Fat singing a lullaby to a baby while gunning down incoming gangsters, and then jumping out of a window to safety below, baby in arm.
John Woo: Interviews (ISBN 1578067766) is the first authoritative English-language chronicle of Woo’s career. The volume includes a new 36-page interview with Woo by editor Robert K. Elder, which documents the years 1968 to 1990, from Woo’s early career in working on comedies and kung fu films (in which he gave Jackie Chan one of his first major movie roles), to his gun-powder morality plays in Hong Kong.
It would be three long years before Woo made another American directorial attempt. Starring John Travolta and Christian Slater, Broken Arrow was a frantic chase-picture with a bigger budget. Unfortunately, Woo once again found himself hampered by studio interference and editors who did not share his sense of aesthetics and filming style. What resulted was a film that, despite modest financial success, lacked Woo's trademark style.
Still smarting from his bitter experiences, Woo cautiously rejected the script for Face/Off several times until it was rewritten to suit him (by shifting the futuristic setting to a modern one). With Paramount Pictures offering him significantly more freedom this time around, Woo set out to craft a complex story of two enemies—a law enforcement agent played by John Travolta and a terrorist played by Nicolas Cage—who embark on a fantastical surgical procedure that allows them to switch faces. Trapped in each other's identities, they play a cat-and-mouse game that allowed Woo to do what he did best: emotional characterization and elaborate action. Face/Off opened in 1997 to critical acclaim and performed well at the box office, grossing over $100 million in the United States alone. As a result, John Woo became the first Asian director to hit mainstream, paving the way for other Asian filmmakers to follow in his footsteps. Many fans and critics consider this his best American film. In 2003, John Woo directed a pilot film entitled "The Robinsons: Lost In Space" for The WB Television Network, based on the 1960s television series "Lost In Space." The pilot was not purchased, although bootleg copies have been made available by fans.
John Woo has made three additional Hollywood films: Mission: Impossible II, Windtalkers and Paycheck. While Mission: Impossible II was a huge hit in 2000, Windtalkers and Paycheck have been box office duds that were lambasted by critics. It is unclear whether Woo will be able to bounce back from these disappointments.
Recently, John Woo directed and produced a videogame called Stranglehold for next gen consoles and PC. It is a sequel to his 1992 film, Hard Boiled. He completed his latest project, Red Cliff, based on a historical epic battle from Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which is his first film in China since he left Hong Kong for the USA. In 2009 he will direct Ninja Gold collaborating with video-game creator Warren Spector. He is also involved in numerous projects in a producing capacity.
His future film on Mighty Mouse will either be animated or live-action with CGI, he will also direct a remake on Papillion. Ther are persistent rumors that Woo will direct a film version of the videogame property Metroid. He had optioned the rights at one point, but the option has long since expired.
Woo's next projects are The Divide, a western concerning a friendship between a Chinese man and an Irish man working together on the transcontinental railroad, while The Devil's Soldier is a biopic movie on Frederick Townsend Ward who is brought to China by the Emperor in the mid 19th century to help crush a rebellion. Rendezvous in Black will be an adaption of the drama/thriller novel of the same name, and Psi-Ops is a sci-fi thriller about a telepathic agent, and a remake on Blind Spot.
In May 2008, Woo announced that his next movie will be 1949, an epic love story based on true events and that spans the end of World War II to the formation of the People's Republic of China. The announcement was made at Cannes Film Festival where Woo was in to promote Red Cliff. The shooting of 1949 will take place in China and Taiwan, with production set to begin by the end of 2008, theatrical release planned in December 2009. The film is to star South Korean actress Song Hye-kyo and Taiwanese actor Chang Chen, and was written by the scriptwriter of Ang Lee's Lust, Caution, Hui-Ling Wang.
|1973||Fist to Fist|
|1974||The Young Dragons|
|The Dragon Tamers|
|1975||Hand of Death|
|Princess Chang Ping|
|1977||From Riches to Rags|
|1978||Hello, Late Homecomers|
|Follow the Star|
|1979||Last Hurrah for Chivalry|
|1980||From Riches to Rags|
|1981||To Hell with the Devil|
|1982||Plain Jane to the Rescue|
|1984||When You Need a Friend|
|1985||Run, Tiger, Run|
|1986||Heroes Shed No Tears|
|A Better Tomorrow|
|1987||A Better Tomorrow II|
|1990||Bullet in the Head|
|1991||Once a Thief|
|Once a Thief|
|2000||Mission: Impossible II|
|2005||All the Invisible Children|
John Woo directed two Nike commercials, futebol airport and good vs evil.
The Queen's Speech: Race Watchdogs Say Reforms `Hamstrung from the Start' ; RACE RELATIONS; FURY OVER OMISSION OF `INDIRECT BIAS'
Nov 18, 1999; PROPOSALS TO extend race laws to cover the police, prisons and immigration service were described as "hamstrung from the...