John Woo is in the middle of what might be a renaissance. It’s too early to really make that call, but he’s more active now in the wake of Red Cliff than he’s been in the past few years. And more active with interesting projects — if you haven’t seen Red Cliff it is definitely worth the time; Reign of Assassins looks promising; and there’s the IMAX film Flying Tigers that Woo is preparing to make.

But the spectre of trouble looms. A Variety piece on the director announces that “Woo is hoping to line up A-list talent for his English-language remakes of two hugely influential action films”: Le Samourai and his own The Killer. Read More »

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There’s finally been some movement on John Woo‘s next period war epic, the ’40s aerial fighter movie which we first heard about over a year ago. It was tentatively being referred to as Flying Tiger Heroes, but the title has now been shortened to the snappier sounding Flying Tigers.

Who’s Woo looking to cast in the film? There’s no certainty that this will ever happen, but his ideal candidate is Liam Neeson. Find out more about what he had to say, and about the film’s IMAX prospects, after the break. Read More »

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It’s almost a great, hopefully not sad cosmic joke that Bob and Harvey Weinstein, so famous for buying and then either recutting or shelving Hong Kong films, will distribute John Woo‘s latest made-in-China effort, Reign of Assassins. The Weinstein Company announced today that it has pre-bought North and South American rights to the film, which was produced by John Woo and longtime partner Terence Chang, and co-directed by Woo and Su Chao-Pin, who also wrote. Read More »

Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: I celebrate all levels of trailers and hopefully this column will satisfactorily give you a baseline of what beta wave I’m operating on, because what better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? Some of the best authors will tell you that writing a short story is a lot harder than writing a long one, that you have to weigh every sentence. What better medium to see how this theory plays itself out beyond that than with movie trailers?

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The story of Marco Polo has been brought to the screen before and will probably be adapted many times in the future. The next film about the explorer could be directed by Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend) as Warner Bros. has attached the director to a project based on a pitch by Adam Cooper and Bill Collage, who will write a script based on Polo’s adventures. Read More »

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The RZA‘s career in the movies reportedly started with a call from Harvey Weinstein. Here’s how he tells it, in an impersonation of the big man. The phone went, he picked it up, there was a raspy voice and it said:

Hey RZA, it’s Harvey. I want you to be in my movie. You got a new career now.

Such a smooth talker, the big man.

That movie was Derailed, Mikael Halfstrom’s thriller with Jennifer Aniston and Clive Owen. Since then, a series of supporting roles and scoring gigs have seen RZA keep his side careers spinning nicely but all of his notable achievements were still on wax, courtesy of the music made through his membership of the Wu Tang Clan. However, that may be about to change with his next step up the cinematic ladder and the advent of his debut as a writer-director. Fingers crossed that The Man With the Iron Fist is a movie as good as his hip hop.

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It doesn’t look like John Woo will be returning to Hollywood anytime soon. After a string of not-so-great Western films, Woo returned to China and delivered the massive two-part epic Red Cliff. I’ve only seen the first film of the Chinese release (haven’t yet seen the condensed most other countries got), and while it certainly isn’t perfect, it towers above anything Woo delivered while in Hollywood. Now we have a first look at his next project, Jianyu Jianghu (also known for now as Rain of Swords In The Pugilistic World), which stars Michelle Yeoh.

Woo will be co-directing the film with Su Chao-Bin (Silk, Better Than Sex). They’ll be joined by longtime producer bud Terrence Chang. The cast also includes Chang Chen, Kelly Lin, and Barbie Hsu.

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I’m in the middle of watching Red Cliff and I’m amazed that, for the first time in at least a decade, I’m excited by a John Woo movie. (Import DVDs for the win, and I’ll probably still go see the half-length US edit out of curiosity.) So I’m happy to see that his next Chinese production seems to be going forward. Given that Woo has a habit of developing and announcing films that would never happen, there was good reason to be skeptical that we’d ever see Rain of Swords in a Pugilistic World, which would be an all-out wuxia film with Michelle Yeoh.

But now there’s a sales poster and we have the synopsis as well. After the break, we’ve also got a short teaser for Little Big Soldier, Jackie Chan‘s latest Chinese film. His Chinese stuff hasn’t been great — it’s no match for his classic output — but it’s miles better than the garbage he’s been in stateside for the past many years. Read More »

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