Director John Woo (b. 1946) reinvented the modern action movie and helped open the door for Asian filmmakers to the Western world. His hyper-violent, highly choreographed style made him a box office powerhouse, a respected auteur, and a revered figure among fellow directors.
First discovered by Western audiences through his Hong Kong films The Killer and Hard Boiled, Woo introduced the world to a new brand of psychologically frenzied action film. After coming to the United States in the early 1990s, Woo produced a trilogy of hard-charging action films—Broken Arrow, Face/Off, and Mission: Impossible II—that were both popular and critically acclaimed. But Woo’s signature bullet ballets, his kinetic, blood-spattered action sequences, represent a dichotomy in the director’s philosophy. John Woo: Interviews reveals a peace-loving, devoutly religious man at odds with his reputation as the master of cinematic violence.
Unprecedented access to the director helped editor Robert K. Elder create in John Woo: Interviews the first authoritative English-language chronicle of Woo’s career.
Woo himself had this to say about the book: “I feel so honored. I feel like I don’t deserve it…I never go back and watch my own movies. But it’s nice to hear what my true friends have to say about them, the good and the bad. Thanks to Rob and my friends, your perspective helps me know myself better.”
“Internationally acclaimed in the late 1980s for his impossibly violent, rabidly romantic gangster films, Hong Kong action director Woo was lured to Hollywood by the tantalizing prospect of reaching larger audiences. He achieved some U.S. commercial success by working with such stars as Nicholas Cage and John Travolta and helming the blockbuster sequel, Mission Impossible II; yet Woo, prolific in Hong Kong, has released only six features in a dozen years in Hollywood. The fans who discovered him through such early Chow Yun-Fat vehicles as A Better Tomorrow and The Killer remain enthusiastically loyal, though, and they’ll devour these 17 interviews from sources ranging from daily newspapers to movie trade journals. The pieces on his earlier career, including an oral history for the Hong Kong Film Archive and a movie-by-movie discussion of his 1968–90 work, most of which remains unseen in America, are particularly informative; and the later interviews promoting his Hollywood efforts reveal ironic gentleness and thoughtfulness in this man best known for on-screen bloodletting.