John Woo: from Hong Kong to Hollywood, The Killer and Face/Off
John Woo and his "heroic bloodshed" have revolutionized and rejuvenated the action genre, combining melodrama with action to create the male melodrama, in which he explores the codes of masculinity while redefining them. Robert Hanke says that "explosive pyrotechnics seem to be privileged over plot, narrative or character" (Hanke 41) and yet notes that Jillian Sandell maintains the opinion that Woo does not "celebrate this violence, but rather uses it to represent a nostalgia for a lost code of honor and chivalry" (Hanke 1999: 45). While characterized by violence, Woo's films define masculinity within a changing world. He does not set out to make violent films, defending
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He explores the theme of the family, what it means to be a husband and a father, not just a solitary wandering figure. Hanke concludes that Woo "reinvents masculinity as a dialect of violence and sensitivity" within an ever changing world. This evolution is not limited to either Hong Kong or Hollywood, as John Woo is a transnational global auteur, speaking the universal language of action. Chow Yun-fat is quoted as saying that Hard Boiled is seventy percent action, thirty percent story, characteristic of many John Woo films. Yet Hanke quotes Lisa Coulthard and argues that the action "is a kind of melodramatic excess that may be read as a special form of displaced, external form of inner suffering" (Hanke 1999: 55). Woo offers the world a new vision of a sensitive and yet strong masculine hero that everyone can interpret and understand, and which in turn influences other directors such as Quentin Tarantino. His extreme action is in fact a way in which he can reach all languages, a sign that he is truly a global filmmaker.
- Bey Logan, Hong Kong Action Cinema, Woodstock, New York: The Overlook Press, 1995
- Robert Hanke, "John Woo's Cinema of Hyperkinetic Violence: from A Better Tomorrow to Face/Off", Film Criticism v.24:1, Fall 1999: 39-59
- Tony Williams, "Space, Place, and Spectacle: The Crisis Cinema of John Woo", The Cinema of Hong Kong - History, Arts, Identity, eds. Poshek Fu and David Desser,