John Woo


John Woo Yu-Sen SBS (吳宇森; born May 1, 1946) is a Chinese born Hong Kong filmmaker, producer and screenwriter. Known as a highly influential figure in the action film genre, he is a pioneer of heroic bloodshed films (a crime action film genre involving Chinese triads) and the gun fu genre in Hong Kong action cinema, before working in Hollywood films. He is known for his highly chaotic “bullet ballet” action sequences, stylized imagery, Mexican standoffs, frequent use of slow motion and allusions to wuxia, film noir and Western cinema. Early in his career he directed several martial arts films and comedies. He is a winner of the Hong Kong Film Awards for Best Director, Best Editing, and Best Picture, as well as a Golden Horse Award, an Asia Pacific Screen Award, and a Saturn Award.

Early in his career he directed several martial arts films (which featured early roles from Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung) and comedies. He had an international breakthrough with the action film A Better Tomorrow (1986), with Ti Lung, Leslie Cheung, Chow Yun-fat, Emily Chu, Waisee Lee, and Kenneth Tsang. His other notable films from this period include The Killer (1989), with Chow, Danny Lee and Sally Yeh; Just Heroes (1989), with Lee, David Chiang and Stephen Chow; Bullet in the Head (1990), with Tony Leung, Jacky Cheung, Waise Lee and Simon Yam; Once a Thief (1991), with Chow, Cheung, Cherie Chung, Tsang, and Paul Chu; and Hard Boiled (1992), with Chow, Leung, Teresa Mo, Philip Chan, Philip Kwok, and Anthony Wong.

Woo’s Hollywood films include the Hard Target (1993), with Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lance Henriksen, Yancy Butler, and Wilford Brimley; and Broken Arrow (1996), with John Travolta, Christian Slater, Samantha Mathis, Delroy Lindo, Frank Whaley, Bob Gunton, and Howie Long; Face/Off (1997), with Travolta, Nicolas Cage, Joan Allen, Gina Gershon, Nick Cassavetes, Alessandro Nivola, Colm Feore, and Harve Presnell; Mission: Impossible 2 (2000), with Tom Cruise, Dougray Scott, Thandiwe Newton, Richard Roxburgh, John Polson, Brendan Gleeson, Rade Šerbedžija, and Ving Rhames; Windtalkers (2002), with Cage, Adam Beach, Peter Stormare, Noah Emmerich, Mark Ruffalo, and Slater; and Paycheck (2003), with Ben Affleck, Uma Thurman, Aaron Eckhart, Paul Giamatti, Michael C. Hall, Joe Morton, and Colm Feore.

Later films include Red Cliff: Part I (2008) & Red Cliff: Part II (2009), with Leung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Zhang Fengyi, Chang Chen, Zhao Wei, Hu Jun, and Lin Chi-ling; Reign of Assassins (2010), with Michelle Yeoh, Jung Woo-sung, Wang Xueqi, Barbie Shu, Shawn Yue, Kelly Lin, Guo Xiaodong, and Jiang Yiyan; The Crossing (2014) & The Crossing 2 (2015), with Zhang Ziyi, Kaneshiro, Song Hye-kyo, Huang Xiaoming, Tong Dawei and Masami Nagasawa; Manhunt (2017), with Zhang Hanyu, Masaharu Fukuyama, Qi Wei, Ha Ji-won, and Jun Kunimura.

He also created the comic series Seven Brothers, published by Virgin Comics. He cites his three favorite films as David Lean‘s Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Akira Kurosawa‘s Seven Samurai (1954) and Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samouraï (1967). He is the founder and chairman of the production company Lion Rock Productions.

Each review will be linked to the title below.

(*seen originally in theaters)

(**seen rereleased in theaters)

  • Dead Knot (1968) – short
  • Ouran (1968) – short
  • The Young Dragons (1974)
  • The Dragon Tamers (1975)
  • Princess Chang Ping (1976)
  • Hand of Death (1976)
  • Money Crazy (1977)
  • Hello, Late Homecomers (1978)
  • Follow the Star (1978)
  • Last Hurrah for Chivalry (1979)
  • From Riches to Rags (1980)
  • To Hell with the Devil (1981)
  • Laughing Times (1981)
  • Plain Jane to the Rescue (1982)
  • The Time You Need a Friend (1984)
  • Run, Tiger, Run (1985)
  • Heroes Shed No Tears (1986)
  • A Better Tomorrow (1986)
  • A Better Tomorrow II (1987)
  • The Killer (1989)
  • Just Heroes (1989) – co-directed with Wu Ma
  • A Bullet in the Head (1990)
  • Once a Thief (1991)
  • Hard Boiled (1992)
  • Hard Target (1993)
  • Broken Arrow (1996)
  • Face/Off (1997)
  • Mission: Impossible 2 (2000)
  • Windtalkers (2002)
  • Paycheck (2003)
  • Red Cliff: Part I (2008)
  • Red Cliff: Part II (2009)
  • Reign of Assassins (2010) – co-directed Su Chao-pin
  • The Crossing (2014)
  • The Crossing: Part II (2015)
  • Manhunt (2017)
  • Silent Night (202-)