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					Good afternoon everyone.
My name is Ethan, and today I would like to talk about John Woo.

John Wu, Hong Kong director and producer, the directorial guru of action, the master of
violence. Recognized for his stylized films of highly choreographed action sequences and
use of slow motion. His stylized action sequences were hip, fresh, and interesting. He
slowed down the action to zero on the gritty details of pain and violence, turning action
into art. His movies are a gory ballet, expertly choreographed with tight, bone crunching
detail. John Woo changed the face of the action movie.

His movies have gone from awe inspiring to yawn inspiring because of his silly little
obsessions with certain imagery. It's one thing to have a recognizable style. Not everyone
can re-invent themselves for each work they create. But John Woo has gone beyond style.
Recently his work has degraded into a series of images that can be found in one form or
another in almost all of his movies. John Woo has done the unthinkable, the unbelievable.

John Wu has directed several notable Hong Kong action films, among them, A Better
Tomorrow, Hard Boiled, and The Killer.

A Better Tomorrow (1986) was the gangster film that made John Woo one of the top
directors in the Hong Kong film industry during the mid to late 80's. He is finding his own
style in this film. But it was just the beginning, until The Killer was filmed.

The Killer is widely regarded as John Woo's best all round film, and pretty much defines
the "Heroic Bloodshed" genre taking the code of chivalry from the old swordplay films
and bringing it into the world of guns and bullets. Woo basically started the whole genre
with the seminal A BETTER TOMORROW, but THE KILLER is the most distilled
vision of the concept he or anybody else in Hong Kong produced. It's a very romanticized
film - even though the main characters earn their livings from violence they're painted as
very noble characters and starkly contrasted with the real villains who kill without honor.
There's a broad message of peace and restraint from violence there too, though, it's
somewhat conflicted with the romanticisoation of some of the bloodshed.
Play the killer

The attention to detail in the film is most obvious in the cinematography. For the
cameraman Peter Pau, this was his first big film and the one that established him as one of
Hong Kong’s top cinematographers. He gives Woo most of the credit for the film's visual
style through describing how much thought Woo would give to the way the camera
should be positioned and moves to bring out the emotional quality of the scene.

Analysis The Killer. (NEED MORE DETIALS)
This sequence mostly described a process of an assassination; John Wu utilized the
process combined with a Dragon boat match together. As we have already seen before,
from a video grammar point, the former scene displays a large number of redness, for
example, the Red Dragon boat, the red color which is behind the target. Traditionally, red
represents festivals, happiness, and delight. But in the movie, red also represents violence,
blood. Especially, red appears here, indicating that the violence or bloody things will
happen, plus the sound of environment is quite noisy, making the audience confused.

By utilizing quick alternative edits, it made the audiences nervous. Slow motion was
utilized to show the main character's composure and calmness, heavily contrasting with a
slow tempo and speed.

"The Killer" was one of the movies which represents John Wu's collection in Hong Kong
before he started to progress in Hollywood after 1993.

His Hollywood films include Hard Target, Broken Arrow, Face/Off , and Mission
Impossible 2.

Among the works of him during his Hollywood era, the Face/Off is the most noticeable
one. The movie can be seen as one of his top collections. John Wu demonstrates
aesthetics of violence a lot in this movie, in order to make more extreme passionate
scenes. The movie can be seen as another pinnacle in his film career.
John Wu has used plenty of performance techniques more than ever, to demonstrate some
action scenes that make the film appear to have a stirring effect, which is unprecedented.

Play Face/Off jump clips

Such as the clip that shows Cage jump into the water from the top of the jail. As you seen
before, John Wu had used a lot of overlay edits and slow motion. There were 3 cameras,
filming this action at the same time from different angles and different positions. He
broke them up and recomposed this action with multi-camera angles. On one side, he

makes the action extended, but for the other side,it gives the audience a powerful visual


John Wu also uses movement lens instead of fixed lens to represent violent action
sequence in this film. It’s a bit different than works he used to do. Compared with The
Killer, he used fixed lens to represent battle sequences in the killer. It was good, but the
effect is not as powerful as this one. Here is an example.

Play battle in sasha’s house.

In this sequence,John Wu also uses pleasant music and slow motion that heavily

contrasts with violent action on screen, it breaks up the typical tasteless "shoot-‘em up"
sequences by giving the rather overly done violence a special rhythm, therefore changing
the tempo of the whole scene and adding a deeper level of thoughts and emotions into the

Both of these films are John Wu’s masterworks. They have lots of things in common and
we can view these as his trademark.

He would like to use doves as a symbol for peace in his films. They are often pictured
flying away as the shooting begins.
Characters often use a gun in each hand and one character throws a gun to another
character sometimes.

The Face to Face Gun Barrel Scene/Standoff - At some point the good guy and bad guy
should appear holding gun barrels up to each other's faces in a classic face off. The
camera should be spinning around.

The Back to Back Gun Fight – The good guy and bad guy should appear back to back
against a wall or mirror, usually engaging in dialog while reloading guns that otherwise
contain an endless supply of bullets. Each person should have two guns. When the
dialogue ends, they will turn, back away at a 45 degree angle and fire away, making sure
they will not hit each other. (Face Off, Hard Target, etc)

Here is good example to prove that in this film. So let’s take a look.

Play final battle.

Although many people think that "Face/Off" is not the best film of John Woo, I still
believe that this is the best film of John Wu, which can demonstrate the profound ability
of the director and demonstrate his unique style of aesthetic violence.

Thanks for your attention.
NB: Lighting, composition of shots eg wide, mid, close up shots. Ambience of sound
during a gun battle (only if have time)


References: John Wu