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 IIthat 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.”

Inter­est­ing fact: Mad mag­a­zine pub­lished an excerpt from John Woo: Inter­views in issue #462 (Amer­i­can Idol cov­er).

From Book­list:

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.