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John Woo

John Woo

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Van Damme Four Feature Film Set... Hard TargetJean-Claude Van Damme teams up with acclaimed action director John... more info $12.98was $12.98 Buy Now

Hard Target DVD "Hard Target" (1993) is Hong Kong action master John Woo's first American film,... more info $14.98was $14.98 Buy Now

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Also Known As: Wu Yu-Sheng, Wu Yusen Died:
Born: May 1, 1946 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: China Profession: director, editor, screenwriter, production assistant, assistant director

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Once hailed by action star Jean-Claude Van Damme as "the Martin Scorsese of Asia," John Woo was a legendary action director in the Hong Kong film industry long before immigrating to Hollywood to direct his first American film, "Hard Target" (1993). Reportedly the first Asian to direct a major Hollywood studio film, Woo made his name with action-packed, emotionally florid thrillers like "A Better Tomorrow" (1986), "The Killer" (1989), "A Bullet in the Head" (1990) and "Hard-Boiled" (1992). Enthusiastically embraced by English-speaking critics, Woo was a bold visual stylist who learned his meticulous choreography of movement, graceful camera moves and over-the-top violence from the likes of Sergio Leone, Sam Peckinpah and Jean-Pierre Melville. Though soaked in blood, his films were marked by old-fashioned morality and chastely gallant attitudes toward women, while, even among villains, valuing friendship and loyalty. But by the time he began making films in America, Woo was forced to tone down the carnage, and greatly slow the pace of his action to appease uninitiated audiences. Though he found some measure of success with "Face/Off" (1997) and "M:I-2" (2001), Woo failed to match the artistry he...

Once hailed by action star Jean-Claude Van Damme as "the Martin Scorsese of Asia," John Woo was a legendary action director in the Hong Kong film industry long before immigrating to Hollywood to direct his first American film, "Hard Target" (1993). Reportedly the first Asian to direct a major Hollywood studio film, Woo made his name with action-packed, emotionally florid thrillers like "A Better Tomorrow" (1986), "The Killer" (1989), "A Bullet in the Head" (1990) and "Hard-Boiled" (1992). Enthusiastically embraced by English-speaking critics, Woo was a bold visual stylist who learned his meticulous choreography of movement, graceful camera moves and over-the-top violence from the likes of Sergio Leone, Sam Peckinpah and Jean-Pierre Melville. Though soaked in blood, his films were marked by old-fashioned morality and chastely gallant attitudes toward women, while, even among villains, valuing friendship and loyalty. But by the time he began making films in America, Woo was forced to tone down the carnage, and greatly slow the pace of his action to appease uninitiated audiences. Though he found some measure of success with "Face/Off" (1997) and "M:I-2" (2001), Woo failed to match the artistry he achieved in Hong Kong. Nonetheless, Woo remained an influential figure among a new generation of filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, who eagerly adopted his signature moves as Woo once did with his own cinematic heroes.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  1949 (2011)
4.
6.
  Paycheck (2003) Director
7.
  Windtalkers (2002) Director
8.
  Mission: Impossible II (2000) Director
9.
  Blackjack (1998) Director
10.
  Face/Off (1997) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Kurosawa's Way (2011)
3.
 Twin Dragons (1999)
4.
 Task Force (1997) (Cameo Appearance)
5.
6.
8.
 Kurosawa: The Last Emperor (2000) Interviewee
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1951:
Moved from Guandong provice in China to Hong Kong with his parents
:
Lived on the streets with his parents for over a year
1967:
At age 19, joined a theater company established by the Chinese Student Weekly, a periodical (date approximate)
:
Began making super-8 and 16 millimeter shorts
1969:
Hired for the entry level position of production assistant at Cathay Film Studio
1971:
Worked his way up to assistant director; went to work for the busy production facility of the Shaw Brothers
:
Became assistant director to celebrated filmmaker Zhang Che, the master of "martial chivalry" epics
1974:
Directed first feature "The Young Dragons"; produced by Golden Harvest, a rival studio to the Shaw Brothers' (date approximate)
:
Directed a kung fu quickie in Korea entitled "The Hand of Death/Shaolin Men/Countdown in Kung-Fu"; first major exposure for future international action star Jackie Chan
1986:
Directed "A Better Tomorrow", the highest-grossing film in Hong Kong history; first collaboration with actor Chow Yun-Fat and producer Tsui Hark
1993:
American directorial debut, "Hard Target"
:
With Terrence Chang, formed WCG Productions
1997:
Helmed blockbuster action flick "Face/Off" starring John Travolta and Nicolas Cage
1998:
WCG Prods. signed to two-year, first-look production deal at TriStar
2000:
Helmed "Mission: Impossible 2", with Tom Cruise reprising his role of Ethan Hunt
2002:
Reunited with Nicolas Cage with the WWII drama "Windtalkers" about Navajo code breakers
:
Executive produced the USA Network pilot "Red Skies"
2003:
Directed Ben Affleck and Uma Thurman in the thriller "Paycheck"
:
Tapped to helm a new, live-action version of the 1980s toy-rific toon, "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe"
:
Will direct "The Red Circle," a remake of the 1970's french thriller about a jewel heist
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Notes

"I never count the number of squibs that are being used in my films. It's the rhythm that is important" --Woo quoted in the British genre film magazine SAMHIAN, undated.

"This time, Woo's ballistic ballet features two cops--jazz buff Tequila (Chow Yun-Fat) and undercover man Tony (Tony Leung, NOT of "The Lover")--whose electric "pas de deux" bespeaks that intense love between men, albeit the kind best expressed through the unbridled spray of bullets. Their target is gangster boss and number-one-son-of-a-bitch Johnny, who's stashed his smuggled weapons in a hospital's basement morgue. When Tony 'n' Tequila discover it, Johnny threatens to blow the place up. Enter Tequila's love interest, Teresa, who plays tag-team rescue by frantically escorting droves of limping, confused patients (gunshot victims, perhaps?) from the burning hospital before it... Wait! The babies! What about all those squirming babies?" --David D. Kim, review of "Hard-Boiled", VILLAGE VOICE, June 22, 1993.

"He's a tremendous filmmaker. I love the poetry of his images." --Tom Cruise, who was directed by Woo in "Mission: Impossible 2"

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Ann Woo. Married c. 1975; naturalized American citizen.

Bibliography close complete biography

"John Woo: The Films" McFarland

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