As much as I hate to admit it, John Woo’s tenure directing American films can only be described as a massive failure. With far more misses than hits, he was just never quite able to adapt his style and visual flair to American productions, with the results usually ending up poorly executed. While Broken Arrow and Face/Off entertained audiences when they came out, re-visiting them shows them to be pretty weak films. And his bad films (Mission: Impossible 2, Hard Target) are really bad. Which is a shame, because his earlier work in Hong Kong (The Killer, A Better Tomorrow and Hard Boiled being excellent examples) are far superior.
He’s recently gone back to China and to making Chinese-language films, and he’s hit his stride once again. 2008’s Red Cliff was adored by our fearless Prisco, who said,”there wasn’t a single moment that felt anything less than poetic. Even when it slows down, the film feels more like flowing with a river’s current before hitting the rapids. It’s a beautiful movie and a magnificent achievement in warfare cinema.” That’s some serious praise right there.
I bring all of this up because Woo’s next film Reign of Assassins (Jianyu Jianghu), which he co-produced and co-directed with Su Chao-Pin (Silk, aka Gui si), looks potentially spectacular as well. It’s not on the grand scale that Red Cliff was, but it’s got that lushly scenic, high flying, Crouching Tiger feel to it. The fight choreography looks excellent, but more importantly, it appears to have some strong elements of drama to it. Starring Michelle Yeoh and Woo-sung Jung, the film is still in production (and oddly, doesn’t even show up in Woo’s IMDB credits), but a promo reel has trickled out to the internet. Take a look — it has great promise. Hopefully, Woo has learned a valuable lesson: Hollywood sucks.