JOHN WOO FEATURE
veterans as human prey in a big money game hunt — but the characters are less interesting in themselves.
‘I think that’s because it wasn’t my script,’ says Woo, unique in Hong Kong as a director who always writes his own screenplays. ‘For American action ﬁlms, the studio likes it to be straightforward, with no need to complicate, and so I didn’t put as much of my own character and feeling into Hard Target. At the beginning, I didn’t quite understand about Hollywood and how the Western audience feels about action heroes, so I agreed with them. But since I’ve stayed longer and have been to several ﬁlm festivals, I’ve seen that the audience — especially young movie fans — are crazy about my ﬁlms and my style. So I feel the studio may be wrong sometimes.’
‘I put a lot of myself and
For the past eighteen months, 3 mt 0‘ VBIIQIOUS Woo has been resident in Los elements unto my Angeles with his family, all of characters, My kind of whom are American citizens. hem has a spiritual
After the success of The Killer, - . he browsed through the 40 or clement’ a my“ qual'ty 0‘
so scripts that winged their d'Qn'tV- "1959379 me.“ Of way East before making the chivalry, like the ancrent * g .
move for Hard Target. Several Chinese knights.’ other projects are now being developed, including collaborations with Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino, indicating that Woo — who cautiously voices concern about how ‘creative freedom’ will be limited when the British hand Hong Kong over to the Chinese in 1997 - plans to base his future career away from his native land. Hollywood is far removed from his origins in Canton where he was born Wu Yuen in 1948. Three years later, his father moved the family from the Chinese mainland to Hong Kong in order to escape the Communist regime; there, Woo was supported through school by a Protestant church, with his fees paid by an ‘adoptive’ American family. Like the young Chan Wei Man who, after reportedly stabbing arts or kung fu, but I know how to make my Scorsese, he consideredacareerin the cloth, but thirteen men in various gang ﬁghts, used the actors look good. When I was young, I taught later began making short experimental ﬁlms that newspaper coverage to launch his career as an dancing in a church, and I still get a lot of revealed the combined inﬂuences of Sam actor. Triad characters never triumph in Woo’s inspiration from dancing. In my kind of action Peckinpah and the French New Wave - a movies, but many are treated with respect and sequences, I feel like I’m shooting and juxtaposition of styles that still underlies his show the same depth of honour as the good choreographing a musical. Maybe I’ll make work. In 1969, he joined the Cathay Film Studio guys. the ﬁrst action musical.’ as a production assistant, before working with This is reﬂected in Hard Boiled by the sense Hong Kong legends the Shaw brothers as an of outrage on all sides when innocent citizens assistant director. At the age of 26, he became fall into the ﬁring line. If Chow Yun-Fat was in the youngest director working in Hong Kong, Clint Eastwood Western mode in The Killer, although his debut, The Young Dragons, was here he’s Clint as an Oriental Dirty Harry; his initially banned for being too violent — plus pa tough cop tackles Triad gun-runners while change, given the hassles Woo had with getting bawled out by his superiors on account American censors over the certiﬁcation of his of his investigative idiosyncracies. Hard Boiled latest ﬁlm. He then spent time making ultra- creates a typical John Woo world where moral cheap kung fu flicks in Korea, including The guidelines have blurred and cop frequently Hand Of Death, which gave former stuntman kills undercover cop in the line of duty. The Jackie Chan his ﬁrst acting role. action sequences in this movie are among A series of comedies established him as a major Woo’s ﬁnest, especially the extended ﬁnale in talent before l986’sA Better Tomorrow became a large hospital. Here, as in all his ﬁlms, the the top-grossing ﬁlm in Hong Kong’s history. locations add to, and often determine, the Inspiring the younger generation of Hong Kong shape of the scene. directors, it deﬁned the Eastern gangster movie ‘I need a certain kind of environment to genre which reflects the role of the Triads in the stimulate me,’ he agrees. ‘In Hong Kong I have province. Often these movies play a dangerous never used a storyboard, and only did on Hard game, as the villains of the piece may wellbethe Target for communication purposes. The same individuals who own the ﬁlm companies. action scenes are choreographed and designed Hard Boiled opens at the Glasgow Film Triad involvement in the ﬁlm industry exists at by myself, and I will go through the rehearsal Theatre on 8 October and the Edinburgh all levels, from the extortion of protection by myself ﬁrst, move by move. If it works for Filmhouse on 22 October. Hard Target opens money by knife-wielding youths, to the murder me, it will also work for the actors and for the widely on 12 November and The Killer will of ﬁlmmakers who step out of line, to the case of scene. I may know nothing about the martial have an arthouse release later this year.
The List 8—21 October I993 13