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As a self-proclaimed video game junkie, it came as no surprise that director Paul W.S. Anderson's biggest success came from adapting a popular game for the big screen with "Mortal Kombat" (1995). Based on the controversial, violent and popular arcade and console series, "Mortal Kombat" raked in over $70 million at the box office and further opened the door for Anderson to adapt games into movies. But more importantly, the film allowed Anderson to perfect his hallmark style of interesting visual settings and rapid-fire editing, which he put to good use in "Resident Evil" (2002) and "Alien vs. Predator" (2004), which helped cement his reputation as a director of action-packed eye-candy.
Born on Mar. 4, 1965 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, Anderson attended Warwick University where he earned his film degree with honors. After graduation, he set up a film cooperative in his hometown and trained aspiring filmmakers in all aspects of the craft. Meanwhile, Anderson made his film debut with the violent low-budget independent, "Shopping" (1996), starring first-time actor Jude Law (who won the part over a then-equally unknown Ewan McGregor). Based on true events, the story told of two local kids who steal cars, smash them into storefront windows, loot what they can and wait for the cops to arrive - all for the thrill. The violent "Shopping" was banned in the UK, and in the U.S. a slightly trimmed version appeared on video. But the film garnered enough attention for Anderson to get hired on for "Mortal Kombat."
After "Mortal Kombat," Anderson directed "Event Horizon" (1997), a futuristic sci-fi thriller about a rescue team (which included Laurence Fishbourne and Sam Neill) sent to salvage a missing ship that suddenly reappears after seven years. Though his visual flair and penchant for violence seemed like a perfect fit for the project, Anderson made a movie that was panned by both critics and audiences alike. Anderson blamed studio meddling for its failure, but some critics pointed to a weak story and derivative script. Anderson moved on from that debacle to another with "Soldier" (1998), another futuristic sci-fi action flick starring Kurt Russell as a "Shane"-like soldier genetically engineered to be the ultimate warrior. Written by David Peoples to be the spiritual cousin of "Blade Runner" (1982), the film failed to please both critics and audiences. By all accounts, "Soldier" faired worse than "Event Horizon," striking a serious blow to Anderson's still-fledgling career. It would be another four years until he would make another film.
In between features, Anderson ventured into television, albeit briefly, with the made-for-television movie, "The Sight" (FX, 2000), a supernatural thriller about an American architect (Andrew McCarthy) in London who refurbishes an old hotel, only to discover a large group of restless ghosts looking to resolve their Earthly business. Thanks to "The Sight" resulting in something of a minor success, Anderson returned to the feature world with "Resident Evil" (2002), his second adaptation of a popular video game. After losing six weeks of his life to non-stop play, Anderson decided to turn the game into a movie. But his efforts proved to be for naught, since the horror flick proved to be a resounding flop. However, Anderson did not come away from "Resident Evil" empty-handed - he fell in love with star Milla Jovovich and later wrote the screenplay for the sequel, "Resident Evil: Apocalypse" (2004).
Anderson returned to the director's chair yet again with the highly anticipated "Alien vs. Predator" (2004) - his third foray into the video game realm. True to form, he made a movie that was blasted by most critics for its over-the-top action and thin storyline. But "Alien vs. Predator" opened number one at the box office, raking in over $38 million and warranting another chance for Anderson to direct. He parlayed that success into "Death Race" (2008), a futuristic action flick about a group of convicts-turned-race drivers who compete in an ultraviolent race with heavily armed cars.
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Made debut as writer/director of "Shopping" starring Jude Law and Sadie Frost as thieves who smashed cars into storefronts
Helmed the successful video game adaptation "Mortal Kombat"
Directed the science fiction horror "Event Horizon"
Declined to direct the sequel of "Mortal Kombat," instead opting to direct "Soldier" starring Kurt Russell and written by Blade Runner screenwriter David Webb Peoples
Wrote and directed the TV movie, "The Sight" (FX)
Returned to directing features with an adaptation of the popular video game "Resident Evil"; film starred Milla Jovovich
Wrote and produced the second installment in the series "Resident Evil: Apocalypse"; again starred Jovovich and directed by Alexander Witt
Directed the crossover franchise "Alien vs. Predator"; also penned the adaptation
Produced another feature based on a popular video game "DOA: Dead or Alive"
Once again signed on to write and produce the third installment in the series "Resident Evil: Extinction"; again starred Milla Jovovich
Wrote and directed "Death Race," a remake of the 1975 film "Death Race 2000"
Directed, wrote, and produced the fourth installment of the action horror series "Resident Evil: Afterlife"
Directed and produced the action adventure "The Three Musketeers," starring Logan Lerman, Milla Jovovich, and Orlando Bloom
Wrote and directed "Resident Evil: Retribution," once again starring Jovovich