Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Top 10 John Woo Shootouts

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In a week, filmmaker John Woo's first ever videogame, "Stranglehold," will be released...and I couldn't be more excited:

Although the trailer makes the game look schlocky, the game gives everyone an opportunity to do what John Woo fans have always dreamed of: To play the role of hard-Boiled cop, Tequila.

I grew up watching John Woo's films and I'm one of his biggest fans. Sure, he uses the same old tricks over and over and over and over again (Doves, guns pointing across from each other, jumping/flipping while shooting guns with both hands, excessive slow motion). But I can still eat up a good John Woo film like it's nobody's business. Almost every one of them is a well-choreographed ballet of violence, a visual representation of the intense and eternal struggle between good and evil.

In celebration of the game's release, here are the John Woo's Top 10 most intense shootouts, in no particular order:

The Killer - Opening shootout - Let's start with something light; the opening scene for "The Killer." It's just a plain ol' execution of a target (plus all the guys in the room). Still, it's done with amazing style. Observe:

Hard Boiled - Teahouse shootout - A perfect opening for Woo's action extravaganza, this scene has a lot of memorable moments (the part when Tequila smashes open the birdcage is unforgettable). Coupled with the messy editing and the final, cold-hearted murder, this scene deftly paints a picture of Tequila as an uncontrollable, unstable cop you don't want to mess with.

The Killer - Apartment shootout - Chow Yun Fat has it tough in this movie. Right when he is starting to come to grips with his friend's betrayal, that's when a cadre of henchmen come in to miss his s**t up. Just remember when you watch Chow whip that gun out of his sleeve: Before "Desperado," there was "The Killer."

The Killer - Church shootout - John Woo's darkest film contains one of the most hyper-stylized action sequences ever shot in a church. This scene is vicious, insanely long, and basically a work of art, an excellent culmination for the brooding film that's just come before it.

(Fast forward past first 2 minutes to get to the action)

A Better Tomorrow 2 - Final Shootout - This film was mostly crap, save for this one scene at the end where Chow Yun Fat and two dudes absolutely mess up the bad guys. My favorite sequence is the mutual gun-slide at the end (which by the way, makes absolutely no sense), a new addition to the Woo canon at this point:

Face/Off- Hangar shootout - Woo's best American film also has many of the elements of his Asian films. Namely, conflict between two charismatic main characters and a hell of a lot of bullets. However, the Hollywood budget lets Woo play with planes and humvees too. For that, we can all be grateful.

Hard Boiled - Warehouse shootout - The violence in Woo's movies is so over-the-top, it borders on comical. This is the warehouse shootout, but it's more appropriately called the warehouse massacre. First all the bad guys come in and massacre the rival gangsters. Then Tequila comes in BY HIMSELF and single-handedly massacres the entire warehouse full of guys. The ending is classic.
Part 1:

(ignore the awful spanish dub)
Part 2:

(ignore the awful spanish dub)

Face/Off - Somewhere Over The Rainbow shootout - Violence in Woo's film never really feels like violence (not like it does in, say, the Bourne films). You really feel as though every single movement, every gunshot, every bullet wound has been planned. No scene captures this feel better than this wonderful pairing of "Somewhere over the rainbow" with some shootout carnage in "Face/Off":

The Killer - House shootout - Chow Yun Fat and his buddy take out fifty guys as they storm the house. There's really nothing else more to say:

Hard Boiled - Hospital shootout - It wasn't enough for John Woo to open the movie with a shootout, then shove in a couple more shootouts in the middle. He had to end "Hard Boiled" with one of the longest, uninterrupted streams of violence ever filmed. The hospital shootout is an absolute classic and cannot be missed by any serious action fan, or certainly, any fan of John Woo. Here are some excerpts:

(ignore the awful English dub)


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ilselu1 said...

Fun stuff. I always forget that Face/Off was directed by Woo...

Gui Hua said...

Insane action. Bring back great memories! Hail the perfect duo John Woo and Chow Yun Fatt!

Anonymous said...

While its not so much a "shootout" in terms of amount of bullets and explosions, the restaurant scene in 'A Better Tomorrow' where he slips the guns into the plants in the hall on his way in then uses them to blast everyone on his way out is still probably my favorite John Woo scene; if simply for the fact that it is one of the few that actually pays attention to reality - no bottomless clips. Its also good because it portrays Chow Yun Fat as actually human - the injury he suffers cripples him for the rest of the film