Biography

John Woo (Wu Yusen) was born in 1946 in Guangzhou, South China. His family moved to Hong Kong when he was four. They were extremely poor and were homeless for years, so he couldn´t go to school until he was nine.

John entered into a Lutheran school, where he was given the opportunity to direct some of the school´s playes. His obsession with movies grew, and he spent his time teaching himself film technique and theory from books. In the late 60´s he made several experimental shorts, before working as an script supervisor at Cathay Studios

In 1971 he moved to work for Shaw Brothers as assistant, to veteran director Chang Cheh. Woo rose swiftly through the studio ranks making his directorial debut, aged 26 with the independently produced actioner "The Young Dragons" which waspicked up by Golden Harvest.

Over the next decade he directed twelve films, ranging from comedies to Cantonese opera adaptions, including "Hands of Death", in which future martial arts star Jackie Chan was given his first major role. In 1986, Woo teamed up with top producer director Tsui Hark, with the ground-breaking "A Better Tomorrow". The film, united Woo for the first time with Chow Yun-Fat and was an huge success, establishing its director as a force to be reckoned with.

He continued to refine his style with "A Better Tomorrow 2", and "The Killer", an explosive fable of redemption through violence, which brought Woo the excited attention of an international audience. It was followed by the brutal Vietnam epic "Bullet in the Head" and he teamed once again up with Chow Yun Fat, in the High-octane rollercoaster movie "Hard Boiled". In 1993 Woo was offered a chance to work in Hollywood, and got to direct the Jean-Claude Van Damme movie "Hard Target" which sadly got an NC-17 rating and had to been recut to reduce the violence in effect that it lost some of Woo´s spirit, luckily it´s unrated in Europe.

Woo stayed in US almost three years before being contracted by 20th Century Fox, to direct the $54 million "Broken Arrow" a pulse-pounding, non-stop actioner starring John Travolta and Christian Slater which allowed Woo to try his hand at a specialeffect-driven thriller.

In 1996 John Woo also received the CineAsia Lifetime Achievement Award. He also once again teamed up with John Travolta, with the Sci-Fi Thriller "Face Off" about an undercover cop, released in 1997.

In 1998 John Woo have two movies on the way "Black Jack" starring Dolph Lundgren (TV), and Kings Ransom with Chow Yun-Fat

 John Woo´s Trademark

He´s bold visual stylist stages kinetic scenes of over- the- top gunplay with fluid camera movements, extremely long takes, and meticulous choreography of movement.

In an interview Woo explained: "I choreograph action like you´d design a dancing sequence in a musical. I have a sense of the beauty and the rhythm of the action, the atmosphere and the action´s emotional arc. Everything is clear in my mind before I shoot. But like a musical, the rhythm and movement have to be filmed precisely as you thought it out."

 

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