ASIAN FILM - Article
12:00 - 2nd August 2014, by NEO Staff

John Woo

The Killer (1989)
After the success of the gangster flick A Better Tomorrow, Woo and leading man Chow Yun-Fat collaborated once again on what would become a career-changing film for the director. Yun-Fat plays a hit man who accidently blinds a nightclub singer and sets about finding the money anyway he can, in order for her to regain her sight. The Killer went on to become the highest-grossing Hong Kong film in America and gained Woo worldwide recognition. It is now considered a classic of the genre and a major influence on many international filmmakers – most noticeably Quentin Tarantino.

Face/Off (1997)
Arguably Woo’s best Hollywood hit, Face/Off stars John Travolta as an FBI agent and Nicolas Cage as a terrorist. The roles of the confirmed rivals are reversed when they take on the physical appearance and identity of one another. Woo initially declined the offer to direct this tense action thriller due to the lack of control he had on his previous American-made films. However, it’s hard to imagine the movie under any other director: his trademark operatic bloodshed and no-holds-barred stunts are showcased throughout.

Red Cliff Part 1 & 2 (2008 – 2009)
After his long stint of making films in Hollywood, Woo returned to his native homeland to shoot a two-part epic based on a legendary story that comprises historical facts and mythology about the conflicts of the Three Kingdoms in ancient China. With its huge budget and a cast of thousands, the saga is visually spectacular and incorporates remarkable battle scenes on a grand scale. A critical and commercial success, it broke box-office records and put the director where he rightfully belongs – on top.

Reign of Assassins (2010)
The highly respected and popular action superstar Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) plays an ex-assassin whose plans of going straight and living a normal life are somewhat interrupted when her former gang come looking for the remains of a master of kung fu which are now in her possession. Woo acted as co-director and producer on this collaborative effort with Chao-Bin Su. Though Woo credits this stylish and entertaining wuxia (swordplay) film to Su, the legendary filmmaker’s influence and input undoubtedly played a big part in its success.

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