Celebrity Birthday of the Day – September 23

Today we celebrate the birthday of a master of Hong Kong action cinema! John Woo is a highly influential action director whom some might call an action auteur. His films are full of his trademarks: doves, slow motion, Mesican standoffs, classical music, and chaotic yet also balletic gunfights. Woo’s directorial debut came in 1974 with the film The Young Dragons, featuring martial arts choreography from Jackie Chan. Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, Woo directed a number of Hong Kong films, including some comedies such as Money Crazy, but after several commercial disappointments, Woo found himself struggling to stay passionate about film. In 1986, however, director/producer Tsui Hark funded Woo’s pet project A Better Tomorrow, and the film turned out to be a huge hit. A Better Tomorrow is really where the John Woo tropes we know and love began to show, as it featured all the same slow-motion gunplay and trenchcoats that the majority of the films he directed afterwards would also feature. A number of hits followed A Better Tomorrow, including A Better Tomorrow 2, The Killer, Once a Thief, and Hard-Boiled. In 1995, Woo made the transition to Hollywood filmmaking, starting with the film Hard Target and continuing with Broken Arrow, Face/Off, Mission: Impossible II, Windtalkers, and Paycheck. However, Woo once again fell into a bit of a slump, as most of his Hollywood movies failed to impress at the box office. Woo returned to Hong Kong, and, in 2008, released the epic war film Red Cliff to favourable reviews. A sequel was released the following year, though both movies were condensed into one for North American audiences. While his career may have been a bit rocky at some points, you can’t deny the influence John Woo has had on the action genre. He turns 66 today.

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