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Original writing sample sent to Examiner.com on 12-13-12. Here’s what got me hired.


John Woo’s style comes from working with different genres. He started his career with kung fu flicks, Chinese opera and comedies before making his first action film. This was A Better Tomorrow (1986). The star is Chow Yun Fat. This film established the working relationship between Fat and Woo.

A Better Tomorrow featured Woo trademarks of over the top gunplay, excessive violence, two handed gunplay, Mexican standoffs, slow motion shots and balletic gun battles. He used a plot device I call hide-in-plain-sight. There’s a scene where Mark picks up a pair of spare weapons from two flowerpots in the hallway.

A Better Tomorrow introduced to cinema the Heroic Bloodshed genre and established Fat’s recurring character of the honorable hit man. Several rip-offs bombed at the box office. Hero of Tomorrow (1988), A Better Tomorrow 3 (1989) and A City of War (1989).

One of the most famous and successful copycat was City of Fire (1987). Ringo Lam’s stint in directing Chow Yun Fat. He played a deep undercover cop sent to infiltrate the mob. The realism depicted would go on to influence two American directors. City of Fire was the basis of Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (1992). Abel Ferrara paid homage to Lam with King of New York (1990).

Chow Yun Fat returned to Woo for both The Killer and Hard Boiled. Woo brought his usual bag of tricks along. He introduced a new element, parallel editing, with The Killer (1989). Hard Boiled (1992) used more parallel editing and slow-mo shots than his previous films.

Then two watered down versions soon came to Hollywood. These were Hard Target (1993) and Broken Arrow (1995). He returned to form with Face/Off (1997). More directors continued to steal from Woo. Vic Armstrong recreated a gun battle from Hard Boiled for his Joshua Tree (1993). Robert Rodriquez spoofed Woo with an extended Mexican standoff in Desperado (1995).

Pamela Anderson Lee sported dual pistols in David Hogan’s Barb Wire (1996). Mark Wahlberg did the same in The Big Hit (1998). Woo served as an executive producer on the latter. Antoine Fuqua also successfully copied him.

He directed the Woo produced Replacement Killers (1997). Which marked Chow Yun Fat’s American debut. Fuqua interjected creative camera angles and numerous slow-mo shots with several Mexican standoffs. Although it seemed like Woo was the actual director.