Action movies should channel ‘deep emotions’ says John Woo

Action movies should reflect “deep emotions”, acclaimed Hong Kong thriller director John Woo said. (AFP)

Action movies should reflect “deep emotions”, acclaimed Hong Kong thriller director John Woo said Saturday, calling on young filmmakers to breathe life into the genre by exploring the human condition.

Woo, whose Hollywood films include “Face/Off” and “Mission: Impossible II” but who made his name with gritty Hong Kong thrillers like “Hard-Boiled”, said he was now hoping to inspire “new voices” in the industry.

“Action allows you to reflect on the deep emotions human beings share,” said Woo, speaking to the press at the 22nd Busan International Film Festival in South Korea.

The 71-year-old, who has inspired the likes of maverick American Oscar-winner Quentin Tarantino, said action movies “can add vitality to our lives by making us question what motivates us to make the decisions we make”.

Woo said young directors should use action films to make their audiences think about their own lives, and their relationships with others.

The veteran filmmaker is touring the international festival circuit with the new gritty urban thriller “Manhunt”, marking a return to the kind of action films that made him famous in the 1980s and 1990s.

The film is inspired by Ken Takakura’s Japanese classic “You Must Cross the River of Wrath” (1976), and features Woo’s daughter Angeles alongside Chinese star Zhang Hanyu.

And despite battling health issues recently, Woo revealed on Saturday that he has more thrillers in the pipeline.

“A good film inspires,” said Woo. “It doesn’t matter what generation watches it. I feel like I have a lot more challenges ahead of me and new opportunities to learn about other cultures, and other lives.”

Woo rose to prominence in the Hong Kong action scene with classics including “A Better Tomorrow” (1986) and Hard-Boiled (1992), which both starred Chow Yun-Fat.

The director then tried his hand at Hollywood blockbusters, including “Face/Off” (1997) starring John Travolta, before setting up shop in Beijing in the early 2000s and put together historical dramas such as “Red Cliff” (2008) and “The Crossing” (2014).

His filmmaking style is admired by those outside the action genre, a point made by fellow BIFF guest Darren Aronofsky, the American director who has brought his thriller “Mother!” to the festival but is better known for arthouse fare such as the Oscar winner “Black Swan” (2010).

Aronofsky named checked Woo at a press conference on Thursday when asked about his inspirations and said that the Hong Kong director’s eye for impressive visuals and balletic action style had left an indelible mark on him when he was starting out as a filmmaker.

The Busan festival continues until October 21.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:51 - GMT 06:51