Hong Kong’s preeminent director, John Woo, transforms genres from both the East and the West to create this explosive and masterful action film. Featuring Hong Kong’s greatest star, Chow Yun-fat, as a killer with a conscience, the film is an exquisite dissection of morals in a corrupt society, highlighted with slow-motion sequences of brilliantly choreographed gun battles on the streets of Hong Kong. —The Criterion Collection
The first Asian filmmaker to helm a major Hollywood feature, John Woo initially emerged as the leading light of the Hong Kong action renaissance of the late ’80s. Celebrated for his unique, much-imitated style: a Molotov cocktail of graceful slow-motion sequences, staccato edits, freeze-frames, and dissolves; Woo brought a new depth of emotion and visual beauty to the action genre, perfecting an operatic, highly stylized brand of mayhem laced with melodrama, savage wit, and homoerotic undercurrents. Woo was born Wu Yu Sen on May 1, 1946, in the Guangzhou Canton Province of China, his parents relocating the family to Hong Kong three years later to escape life under communism. The Woos were quite poor, and were homeless for several years. His father, a philosopher, was later hospitalized with tuberculosis for over a decade. It was his mother who introduced Woo to the cinema, where he fell under the sway of American musicals and the films of the French New Wave, with Jean-Pierre Melville… read more
It's easy to see the cliches here, but that's missing the point--if Woo's tools seem overly familiar, it's only because they made such an impact as to inspire numerous imitators in the years since. it's hard to imagine the 21st century action film without John Woo, in the same way it would be hard to imagine rock without Jimi Hendrix-much like Hendrix's Purple Haze, this is a great showcase for Woo's singular vision.
Certainly one of the all time great action films. Woo's unique blend of melodrama and ultra violence reached the boiling point here in its depiction of a growing admiration between a ruthless killer and a dedicated officer. Chow Yun-Fat was the pure embodiment of cool here. All the Woo flourishes that would later become cliched are here in a career defining way. First saw this in a chinatown theatre in '89 .