John Woo

John Woo

Highest Rated: 100% Bullet in the Head (Die xue jie tou) (1990)

Lowest Rated: 23% Bulletproof Monk (2003)

Birthday: Sep 23, 1946

Birthplace: Guangzhou, China

The first Asian filmmaker to helm a major Hollywood feature, John Woo initially emerged as the leading light of the Hong Kong action renaissance of the late '80s. Celebrated for his unique, much-imitated style -- a Molotov cocktail of graceful slow-motion sequences, staccato edits, freeze-frames, and dissolves -- Woo brought a new depth of emotion and visual beauty to the action genre, perfecting an operatic, highly stylized brand of mayhem laced with melodrama, savage wit, and homoerotic undercurrents.Woo was born Wu Yu Sen on May 1, 1946, in the Guangzhou Canton Province of China, his parents relocating the family to Hong Kong three years later to escape life under communism. The Woos were quite poor, and were homeless for several years. His father, a philosopher, was later hospitalized with tuberculosis for over a decade. It was his mother who introduced Woo to the cinema, where he fell under the sway of American musicals and the films of the French New Wave, with Jean-Pierre Melville emerging as his greatest influence. After the death of his father, Woo was forced to leave school at the age of 16. He took a job at a newspaper called the Chinese Student Weekly, learning film theory by stealing books on motion pictures from area libraries and shops.Influenced by Western cinema, Woo grew increasingly dissatisfied with the Hong Kong production industry, and decided to begin making his own films in 1968. Over the next two years he made a number of shorts in 8 mm and 16 mm, most of which were later lost. By the close of the decade he was employed as a production assistant and script supervisor at Cathay film studios. By the early '70s, Woo had been elevated to the position of assistant director under the aegis of the prolific Shaw Brothers Studios. At the same time he drew great inspiration from the new breed of American filmmakers including Sam Peckinpah and Stanley Kubrick, the hypnotic violence of their work leaving a profound effect. At Shaw Brothers, Woo began working under martial arts director Chang Che, whose expressive, emotional brand of action filmmaking left an indelible mark on his protegé. After assisting Chang on several films, including Four Riders and Boxer From Shantung, Woo was finally tapped by the rival Golden Harvest Studios to direct his own feature, 1973's The Young Dragons. An innumerable string of low-budget efforts followed, ranging from chop-socky pictures like 1974's The Dragon Tamers and 1975's Hand of Death (Jackie Chan's first major star turn) to the 1975 Chinese opera Princess Chang Ping. In 1977, he directed The Pilferer's Progress, a comedy starring Ricky Hui. The tremendous success of the film established Woo as a comic filmmaker, and of the many features he subsequently helmed, including 1978's Last Hurrah for Chivalry, 1979's From Riches to Rags, and 1982's Plain Jane to the Rescue, the majority were comedies. By the mid-'80s, Woo's career had largely come to a halt. His later films, including a pair of efforts shot in Taiwan (1984's The Time You Need a Friend and 1985's Run Tiger Run), had all failed miserably at the box office. With the aid of producer Tsui Hark, Woo was able to mount his longtime pet project, A Better Tomorrow, a fusion of the themes of traditional martial arts tales with the kind of ambivalent protagonists and graphic violence found in Western action films. Released in 1986, the film was Woo's commercial and critical breakthrough, becoming Hong Kong's top box-office attraction of the year and launching stars Chow Yun Fat and Leslie Cheung into the upper echelon of Eastern film talent. A Better Tomorrow marked the true emergence of Woo's balletic action style, an aesthetic he continued to hone in films like 1987's A Better Tomorrow II and 1989's masterful The Killer, which became his American breakthrough when released in the U.S. a few years later. The Vietnam war drama Bullet in the Head followed in 1990, and after the success of 1992's Hard-Boiled, Hollywood came calli


Highest Rated Movies



No Score Yet Septet: The Story of Hong Kong (Baat Bou Bun) Director 2020
68% Manhunt Screenwriter Director 2017
No Score Yet The Crossing 2 Director 2015
No Score Yet The Crossing Director 2014
71% Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale Producer 2012
25% The Beginning of a Great Revival Lin Sen $0.2M 2011
70% Jianyu (Reign of Assassins) Director Producer 2010
77% Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt And The Magnetic Fields Actor $68.6K 2010
93% A Better Tomorrow Inspector 2010
91% Red Cliff (Chi Bi) Producer Executive Producer Screenwriter Director $0.6M 2009
No Score Yet Red Cliff Part II (Chi Bi 2) Director 2009
No Score Yet Appleseed: Ex Machina Producer 2007
No Score Yet All the Invisible Children Director 2006
No Score Yet All the Invisible Children Director 2005
No Score Yet Chop-Socky: Cinema Hong Kong Actor 2004
No Score Yet Slow Jam King Executive Producer 2004
27% Paycheck Producer Director $53.7M 2003
23% Bulletproof Monk Producer $23.1M 2003
33% Windtalkers Director Producer $40.6M 2002
57% Mission: Impossible 2 Director 2000
No Score Yet Behind the Mission: The Making of 'M:I-2' Actor 2000
No Score Yet Blackjack Executive Producer Director 1998
43% The Big Hit Executive Producer 1998
36% The Replacement Killers Executive Producer 1998
92% Face/Off Director 1997
80% Once a Thief (John Woo's Once a Thief) (John Woo's Violent Tradition) Director Executive Producer 1996
52% Broken Arrow Director 1996
No Score Yet Don't Cry Nanking Producer 1996
No Score Yet Yang Yin: Gender in Chinese Cinema (Yang & Yin: Gender in Chinese Cinema) Actor 1996
No Score Yet Peace Hotel Producer Executive Producer 1995
No Score Yet Cinema of Vengeance Actor 1994
57% Hard Target Director 1993
94% Lat sau san taam (Hard-Boiled) Director Bartender 1992
45% Twin Dragons (Shuang long hui) (Brother vs. Brother) Priest 1992
60% Zong heng si hai (Once a Thief) Director Screenwriter 1991
100% Bullet in the Head (Die xue jie tou) Director 1990
No Score Yet A Better Tomorrow III: Love and Death in Saigon Producer 1989
No Score Yet Yi dan qun ying (Just Heroes) (Tragic Heroes) Director 1989
98% The Killer Director 1989
80% A Better Tomorrow II Screenwriter Director 1988
No Score Yet Starry Is the Night Actor 1988
No Score Yet Rich and Famous Director 1987
No Score Yet Heroes Shed No Tears Screenwriter Director 1986
No Score Yet A Better Tomorrow Producer Detective Screenwriter Director 1986
No Score Yet Liang zhi lao hu (Run Tiger Run) Director 1985
No Score Yet Plain Jane to the Rescue John Woo [cameo] Screenwriter Director 1982
No Score Yet To Hell with the Devil Director Screenwriter 1982
No Score Yet Laughing Times Director 1981
100% Last Hurrah for Chivalry Screenwriter Director 1979
No Score Yet Follow the Star Director 1978
No Score Yet Countdown to Kung Fu (Shao Lin men) (Hand of Death) (Strike of Death) Scholar Cheng Screenwriter Director 1976
No Score Yet Brave Lion (Meng shi) Director 1974


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