It’s almost surprising that acclaimed action auteur John Woo hasn’t found himself in the throes of a Western film production yet. It’s not for lack of trying either considering his willful transition in the early 1990s to work on Universal Pictures’ Hard Boiled and enduring through a great deal of bureaucracy to release his cut of the film; It’s imaginable that this could have been a stepping stone toward that goal at the time for Woo in his post-Hong Kong career, although relocating to China after several productions in the U.S. made it pretty clear that at least tentatively, it wasn’t meant to be.
With any luck though, those long-awaited dreams of doing a Western may eventually come to pass. Woo revealed such an interest in an in-depth interview published at The Hollywood Reporter on Friday by Pete Keeley. The interview connotated the 25th anniversary of the release of Woo’s 1993 action classic, ultimately signaling his Hollywood debut in addition to introducing Tinseltown to the first Asian director of a Hollywood feature film. One might even say that at best, the Jean-Claude Van Damme-headlining action thriller showcased Woo’s acumen for potentially directing a Western.
“I love the characters, I still have great admiration for George Lucas.” says Woo, in response to a 1994 interview with Bright Lights Film in which he tamped down rumors on his involvement on the Star Wars prequels. “But my dream is to make a Western. I’m dying to make a Western. I’m trying to get the script and financing. I’d like to bring back that old spirit [of Western films].”
Keeley went on to ask Woo if there was anything he could disclose about the script. “I don’t want to say the name but it’s very much like one of Howard Hawks’ films.” says Woo. “I like that kind of Western. And of course, [Sam Peckinpah’s] The Wild Bunch was my favorite. [To be able to make it] would fulfill my dream.”
Of note, there is The Outlaw (1943), The Big Sky (1952), and Red River (1948), in addition to Rio Bravo (1959) and its remakes, El Dorado (1967) and Hawk’s final bow, the lesser-received Rio Lobo (1970) last three of which are all Western John Wayne headliners. Your guess is as good as mine in terms of which film he’s using to hopefully make his film in the vein of with nods to Peckinpah’s 1969 classic, though his answer somewhat implies that might already have some ideas or even a whole script down.
As for whether or not he’ll still be up to directing a Star Wars movie, Woo insists he’s not keen enough on the technology at this stage of his career.
Separately, I’m fond of the fantasy notion of Woo reteaming with JCVD who can be seen in a recent promotional video pitching his own Western, Three Coyotes, starring himself along with the action star’s own children. It probably won’t happen, but again, it’s a nice to daydream about.
Woo is currently preparing to direct actress Lupita Nyong’o in a remake of his 1989 bullet ballet Hong Kong hit, The Killer. Universal Pictures and eOne are backing the ambitious remake, and with a production that might have been helmed by someone else if Woo were to have his way at one point.
“It’s very interesting, remaking my own film!”, Woo tells THR. “I actually tried to get another director to work on the film but it didn’t work out so I took over the job. But I do like the idea of making the killer into a woman. And I’m so excited about Lupita. I really like her. It’s a very interesting idea using her as the killer — I think she’ll give us lots of surprises.”
Nyong’o, the Oscar-winning actress of 12 Years A Slave whose recent credits include Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi along with Ryan Coogler’s 2018 Marvel smash hit, Black Panther, was cast in the film back in April.
The Killer opened in 1989 and became a heroic bloodshed hit with actor Chow Yun-Fat starring as a hitman who accidentally blinds a club singer during a shootout. The respite romance that ensues finds itself endangered when the exit job he takes to pay for her corneal transplant lands him in a deadly double-cross, forcing him to protect her with the help of the cop already hunting him down.
Cameras commence rolling in Europe in January next year. As for joining in on the ceremony over Hard Target, here’s a snazzy playlist from Movieclips to help inaugurate you into the weekend.
Read more at The Hollywood Reporter.
Native New Yorker. Lover of all things pizza, chocolate, pets, and good friends. Karaoke hero. Left of center. Survivor. Fond supporter of cult, obscure and independent cinema - especially fond of Asian movies and global action cinema. Author of the bi-weekly Hit List. Founder and editor of Film Combat Syndicate. Still, very much, only human.