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John Woo Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (17) | Trivia (17) | Personal Quotes (9)

Overview (3)

Date of Birth 23 September 1946Guangzhou, China
Birth NameYusen Wu
Height 5' 4½" (1.64 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Born in southern China, John Woo grew up in Hong Kong, where he began his film career as an assistant director in 1969, working for Shaw Brothers Studios. He directed his first feature in 1973 and has been a prolific director ever since, working in a wide variety of genres before A Better Tomorrow (1986) established his reputation as a master stylist specializing in ultra-violent gangster films and thrillers, with hugely elaborate action scenes shot with breathtaking panache. After gaining a cult reputation in the US with The Killer (1989), Woo was offered a Hollywood contract. He now works in the US.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Spouse (1)

Annie Woo Ngau Chun-lung (1976 - present) (3 children)

Trade Mark (17)

Uses pleasant music that heavily contrasts with some of the more violent action on screen.
Frequently works with Yun-Fat Chow
Scenes of hyperkinetic, chereographed action
Since making films in the U.S., Woo has started to use doves as a symbol for peace in his films. They are often pictured flying away as the shooting begins.
Slow motion or freeze-frame sequences
[guns]: characters often use a gun in each hand
[reflection]: characters are often alerted to danger by seeing a reflection
[guns]: "Mexican Standoff", involving two characters pointing guns at each others heads. Also mimicked by Quentin Tarantino
[thrown gun]: One character throws a gun to another character
His characters often mimic the actions of other their counterparts, typically accompanied by flashbacks of those scenes.
Frequently uses unusual weapons to change the course of hand-to-hand combat scenes.
Berettas are mainly used as the main character's gun in his movies
Often puts the opponents in his movies in verbal confrontation in different parts of a room, usually seperated by a wall or other object.
His lead characters, whether good or bad, always have a code of conduct which includes a strict vow never to harm or kill innocent people. In many of his films, these lead characters often fight against villains with no such code who freely kill innocent people without remorse.
Birthmark on the dorsum of his nose
Final confrontations often take place near the ocean
Frequent use of slow motion

Trivia (17)

Trademark: Birds: Many Woo films include slow-motion sequences of birds (usually doves)
First job was working for Shaw Brothers studios as an assistant director to Cheh Chang. Martin Scorsese and Sam Peckinpah are his favorite directors.
Woo's many American admirers include the likes of Martin Scorsese, Sam Raimi (who compared his mastery of action to Alfred Hitchcock's mastery of suspense) and Quentin Tarantino (who, replying to a studio executive saying "I suppose Woo can direct action scenes" said "Sure, and Michelangelo can paint ceilings!").
He is the first Asian director ever to make a mainstream Hollywood film (Hard Target (1993)).
When trying to convince Universal to get him to direct Hard Target (1993), Jean-Claude Van Damme championed Woo as "the Martin Scorsese of Asia".
His film The Killer (1989) ("The Killer") (alongside City on Fire (1987) (City on Fire) by Ringo Lam) was one of the inspirations for Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs (1992). Although the plot came from "City on Fire", a lot of the style of "Reservoir Dogs" (e.g., the suits, the Mexican standoffs, the double guns) came from "The Killer" as well as Woo's work in general.
Two of his films are listed in the Hong Kong Film Awards' List of The Best 100 Chinese Motion Pictures on March 2005. They are The Killer (1989) and A Better Tomorrow (1986) (ranking 42 and 2, respectively).
He is the fifth Chinese director after Hark Tsui to join the board of judges for Cannes Film Festival (the 58th, in 2005).
He uses doves as a symbolic device. They represent the character's soul as being saved.
French director Jean-Pierre Melville has had the most influence on Woo; he based his film The Killer (1989) ("The Killer") on Le Samouraï (1967).
Is production partners with Terence Chang.
Lives in Pacific Palisades, California.
His family's roots are in Guangxi in southern China.
He has never owned a car.
Brandon Lee wanted him to direct Rapid Fire (1992) but the producers were strongly against it, as they wanted a martial arts film and not the stylized films that Woo made.
Despite the intense gunfighting in his films, he claims that in real-life he has a pacifist temperament and does not even own a gun.
He was asked to direct GoldenEye (1995). He turned it down, but was honored to be asked.

Personal Quotes (9)

I'm not a master; I'm just a hard-working filmmaker. I would like everyone to see me as a friend rather than a master.
I like doves. They look so beautiful, like a woman. For me they represent peace and love and purity. And sometimes they're seen as the messengers of God, so they're important to me because I'm a Christian.
[on Tom Cruise] When he talks, he has so much energy it's almost like he's dancing. So I used that to choreograph his action scenes.
[on working in Hollywood] Even though I enjoyed the opportunity to work in Hollywood, I never got used to their system. I didn't like much of the studio people. Well, there are too much politics and so much going on, and a lot of them have nothing to do with the movie. It's all about power, it's all about egos.
[on his childhood living in a Hong Kong slum] I had to fight to survive. Whenever I got beat up, I got upset, I also ran into the theater to watch a movie. But I have a very strong character, I never surrender, I [am] never afraid, no matter how big they are, how cruel they are, they never beat me down. I didn't have money. I just sneaked in or watched the movie from the peephole. I have found my heaven in musicals. When I watch a musical, it makes me believe life is still beautiful. There are still a lot of beautiful people in the world. So I like the costumes, I love the song, I love all those smiles, I love those dance. In theater I found my heaven.
[on Akira Kurosawa] I love Kurosawa's movies, and I got so much inspiration from him. He is one of my idols and one of the great masters.
[on Mean Streets (1973)] I saw this film before I directed my first movie. Even after I directed my first movie, I didn't have much confidence. I must confess, I think I started a little too young. I should have learned more. I started with some kung-fu movies and comedies. After I watched "Mean Streets", it made me feel ashamed--"Why don't I make a movie like that? Tell a true story?"
[on Dolph Lundgren] Directors have generally overlooked Dolph's great sense of humor. He's very funny.
[on working with Jean-Claude Van Damme] That's a long story. About five or six years ago, I got many offers from Hollywood studios. The producer and script writers [for Hard Target (1993)] flew to Hong Kong to see me and they asked me to do the picture. [Van Damme was being considered to star.] Van Damme wanted a change, he wanted to prove himself as an actor. And he asked me to do the film. I thought I could do some magic. I know myself; I'm pretty sure of my abilities of how to make an actor look great on the screen, make him look like a hero. I thought I could do the same thing with Van Damme, like how I used to do with Yun-Fat Chow. So I wanted to help him. At the same time, I wanted a new experience, of working in Hollywood, so I took the chance and chose to do Hard Target (1993). The original script was pretty good. And I did try to do the things that I did with Yun-Fat Chow and tried to make Van Damme look different.

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