John Woo (*1946)


John Woo has contributed considerably to the immense popularity of Hong Kong action films. His best movies are characterized by unrelenting violence and overblown melodramatics. He is regarded as the legatee of Sam Peckinpah, who was the first to stylize violence, revealing it as an aesthetic ballet of human motion. In some of Woo's films there is at least one scene of people dancing.
Incidentally, one of Woo's first films, HAND OF DEATH, starred Jackie Chan, another Asian superstar who was to achieve fame abroad. Woo's best films were made back in Hong Kong. THE KILLER, made in 1989, is considered an action classic. He moved to Hollywood in 1993; he has worked there ever since making HARD TARGET. FACE/OFF, starring John Travolta and Nicholas Cage, is the director's best Hollywood production to date.
Woo's first film productions only had him sitting at the helm, without having a word in the script. Later, he would write or cowrite his films, all of which have become genre classics (from A BETTER TOMORROW onwards). In Hollywood, Woo also merely directs. A logical step would be to cowrite the scripts to his movies, which would, in turn, perhaps raise his standard again.

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Filmography:

Nu Zi Tai Quan Qun Ying Hui (1974; dir; aka Belles of Taekwondo, The Dragon Tamers)
Young Dragons (1975; dir; aka Tie Han Rou Qing, Ninja Kids)
Hand of Death (1975; dir, scr, act)
Di Nu Hua (1975; dir; aka Princess Chang Ping)
Mr. Boo 2: The Private Eyes (1976; associate prod)
Qian Zuo Guai (1977; dir; aka From Riches to Rags, Money Talk)
Fa Qian Han (1977; dir; aka Money Crazy, The Pilferer's Progress)
Da Sha Xing Yu Xiao Mei Tou (1977; dir; aka Follow the Star)
Last Hurrah for Chivalry (1978; dir, scr; aka Last Hurray for Chivalry)
Ha Luo, Ye Gui Ren (1978; dir; aka Hello, Late Homecomers)
Mo Deng Tian shi (1981; dir; aka To Hell with the Devil)
Hua Ji Shi Dai (1981; dir; aka Laughing Times)
Ba Cai Lin Ya Zhen (1982; dir, scr, act; Plain Jane to the Rescue)
Xiao Jiang (1984; dir; aka The Time You Need a Friend)
Run Tiger Run (1985; dir, coprod)
Thirty Million Dollar Rush (1985; act)
Ying Xiong Wie Lei (1986; dir, scr; aka Heroes Shed No Tears)
A Better Tomorrow (1986; dir, coscr, coprod, act)
A Better Tomorrow II (1987; dir, coscr)
Just Heroes (1987; dir)
Gam Ye Sing Gwong Chaan Laan (1988; act; Starry Is the Night)
A Better Tomorrow III (1989; coprod)
The Killer (1989; dir, scr)
Once a Thief (1990; dir, coscr, act)
Rebel from China (1990; act)
Bullet in the Head (1990; dir, coscr, edit, prod, act)
The Banquet (1991; act)
Twin Dragons (1992; act)
Hard Boiled (1992; dir, sty, coedit, act)
Hard Target (1993; dir)
Cinema of Vengeance (1993; Woo is featured in this documentary)
The Peace Hotel (1995; coprod)
Somebody Up There Likes Me (1996; coprod)
Broken Arrow (1996; dir)
Violent Tradition (1996; dir, prod; made for TV)
Yit Huet Jui Keung (1997; act; aka Task Force)
Face/Off (1997; dir)
The Replacement Killers (1998; coexec prod)
The Big Hit (1998; coexec prod)
Blackjack (1998; dir, coexec prod; made for TV)
Hong Kong Face-Off (1998; dir)
Mission: Impossible II (2000; dir)
Windtalkers (2002; dir)
Paycheck (2003; dir, coprod)

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Ron Altman (updated 08/03/2004)