From Hong Kong to Hollywood

A conversation with John Woo

That kind of happening really excites me. And that's what I usually do. It's really the same thing I did in Hong Kong with Chow Yun-Fat and Tony Leung. That's why this movie really touches a lot of the audience -- because some of the moments were so real, and not as black and white as in the script.

Klein: Your more rabid fans may still expect your Hollywood films to be exactly like your Hong Kong films -- even down to Chow Yun-Fat flying through the air with both guns blazing. But you've done a lot of things in your career. Would you have continued making the same kinds of films if you had stayed in Hong Kong?

Woo: I don't think I would have done too many more. I probably would have done a couple, but I always want to change and try something else. I love that the fans are so much supportive and so appreciative of my style, and, whether in Hong Kong or here, I would always keep my own style. But not always the same topics. It depends on my mood and how I feel about the world and the society.

That's why I suggested Face/Off focus more on the human stuff: That just matched how I felt. Like the year I made Bullet in the Head [a heartfelt blood bath from 1990], it was just after the Tiananmen Square massacre. And the year I made A Better Tomorrow [the high-grossing 1986 film that created the "heroic bloodshed" genre], I was just so down at the time: I had failed for three years before that movie. So I wanted to do a movie about man's real dignity and honor.

Klein: How does Face/Off reflect your mood?
Woo: Face/Off mainly was about family -- where a man sees his family almost falling apart and he fights to get them back. It was almost exactly how I felt at this time. Because, before I came here, about five years ago, I was working like crazy; me and my family had been separated a long time, and I had a lot of family problems. My children hardly saw me every day, so they were beginning to hate me. I was getting nervous, because my family is my whole thing. That was one of the reasons I wanted to move here. After I moved here, things were back to normal, because people don't work on the weekends, and we live pretty far from the city, and after work I could have a lot more time to spend with my family. So we got to talk more and ... have a reunion. We can get together again. We're a lot more happy than in Hong Kong. That makes me feel so great.

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