Sunday Discussion: What Do YOU Think of John Woo?
by Alex Billington
February 3, 2008
Earlier this morning we posted a teaser trailer for John Woo's upcoming Chinese epic Red Cliff. In the article I made mention of the fact that I personally believe that John Woo is a hack director, saying that "he's made nothing but utter crap" since the 90's. Since then some people have called me out claiming my statement is incredibly harsh and wrong and that calling Woo a hack in lieu of other crappy directors is just ridiculous. I stand to hold my own opinion, and I don't think I'm alone, but I've been called out before (Hancock trailer anyone?), so this time I must ask - what do YOU think of John Woo?
My extreme dislike for Woo originally developed after Paycheck, his most recent feature film. That came out in 2003 and now 5 years later he still hasn't made a feature film, how coincidental, especially considering that Paycheck was a giant piece of crap that failed at the box office (it only made $53.8 million total on a $60 million budget). After that movie, I looked back and realized that he's one of the worst action directors in recent years. I'll admit that I haven't seen many of his Chinese movies from 1992 and earlier, but ever since Face/Off, he's been just plain bad.
To start things off, I actually really like both Broken Arrow and Face/Off, two of his earlier Hollywood movies from 1996 and 1997 respectively. They're not that bad, but then again, I'm referencing viewings probably back before 2000 and not since then. I bet if I went back and watched them I might not enjoy them as much, especially with my current animosity towards Woo. Since Face/Off in 1997, Woo has directed Mission: Impossible II, Windtalkers, Hostage, and Paycheck, some of the worst, most formulaic piles of action crap I've ever seen. All Woo does to throw action into a movie is rent some closed off location so they can hire stunt drivers to drive anything from motorcycles to cars and shoot at things and blow them up. Real directors like to challenge themselves and film in locations that make sense to the setting.
I could go on and on with my problems with Woo's directing, but I'll just slow down here. I have no problem calling Woo a hack. I'm not going to retract my statement, instead I'm going to boldly defend what I said and what I believe in. I'm not about to cover it up for fear of the "masses" getting angry at what I said - because we're all about opinions and discussion here and that's what this is about. I respect that other people appreciate him, but I certainly do not. I think Woo couldn't create a very good action movie for the life of him, and it's obvious that he's scared (and Hollywood is) of bringing him back after the disaster that was Paycheck. And now he's been hiding out back in his homeland of China working on a sprawling historic epic.
What is your take on John Woo? Do you think he is as big of a hack as I do or do you have a bit of fanboy appreciation for him? I'd love to hear everyone else's thoughts on Woo as well. And if you think he is actually a good director, please explain why, and don't just call me an idiot and end it there. I hope there is a bit more intelligent discussion due to come out of this than just calling me an idiot for having my own viewpoint.