John Woo

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5.0 The Young Dragons (1974)
5.0 The Dragon Tamers (1975)
5.0 Princess Chang Ping (1976)
6.0 Hand of Death (1976)
5.0 Money Crazy (1977)
5.0 Hello Late Homecomers (1978)
5.0 Follow the Star (1978)
6.0 Last Hurrah for Chivalry (1979)
5.0 From Riches to Rags (1980)
5.0 To Hell with the Devil (1981)
5.0 Laughing Times (1981)
5.0 Plain Jane to the Rescue (1982)
5.0 The Time You Need a Friend (1984)
5.0 Run Tiger Run (1985)
5.0 Heroes Shed No Tears (1986)
7.5 A Better Tomorrow (1986)
6.0 A Better Tomorrow II (1987)
7.6 The Killer (1989)
5.0 Just Heroes (1989)
8.2 Bullet in the Head (1990)
6.0 Once a Thief (1991)
7.4 Hard Boiled (1992)
6.0 Hard Target (1993)
6.0 Broken Arrow (1996)
5.0 Once a Thief - Brother Against Brother (1996),
7.6 Face/Off (1997)
5.0 Blackjack (1998)
5.0 Mission Impossible 2 (2000)
6.0 Windtalkers (2002)
6.0 Paycheck (2003)
6.0 Red Cliff: Part I (2008)
6.0 Red Cliff: Part II (2009)
6.0 Reign of Assassins (2010)
6.0 The Crossing (2014)
6.0 The Crossing 2 (2015)
5.0 Manhunt (2017)

Yu-Sum "John" Woo was born in 1946 in China in a Christian family. When he was five, his parents moved to Hong Kong. John was raised in poverty, but developed a passion for western cinema that resulted in forming a group of aspiring filmmakers. Woo started working in 1969 as a scriptwriter and assistant director. His first film was Tie Han Rou Qing/ The Young Dragons (1973), a kung-fu movie that characterized by highly-complex action sequences (choreographed by Jackie Chan). After more minor ventures into martial arts films and Chinese opera, influenced by the martial-arts films of Chang Cheh (for whom he had been assistant director), such as The Dragon Tamers (1975), Princess Chang Ping (1976) and Shaolinmen/ Hand of Death (1976), Woo found success with light-hearted comedies a` la Jerry Lewis such as Fa Qian Han/ The Pilferer's Progress/ Money Crazy (1977) and Gwong Law Yau Gwai Yan/ Hello Late Homecomers (1978).

After the thriller Follow the Star (1978), he returned to martial arts with Last Hurrah for Chivalry (1979), possibly the best of his kungfu movies. After the farce From Riches to Rags (1980) and the supernatural comedy Mo Deng Tian Shi/ To Hell with the Devil (1981), roughly modeled after Stanley Donen's Bedazzled (1967), came the comedies Laughing Times (1981), Ba Cai Lin Ya Zhen/ Plain Jane to the Rescue (1982), The Time You Need a Friend (1984), which is basically a remake of Herbert Ross' The Sunshine Boys (1975), and and Run Tiger Run (1985), his first collaboration with Tsui Hark (who acts in it).

After the war film Yingxiong Wu Lei/ Heroes Shed No Tears (1986), in which Chinese commandos are sent to fight a Thai drug ring, take the druglord hostage and escape through the jungle chased by the druglord's army, Woo reinvented his career with Yingxiong Bense/ A Better Tomorrow (1986), the film that marked the beginning of the "hero film" genre in Hong Kong. Thanks to spectacular visual effects, acrobatic gunplay replaced acrobatic kung-fu moves. Thanks to characters that were tragic if not moral heroes, gun shootouts were assimilated to the ethics of martial arts. The themes of duty, honor, loyalty, revenge were recast in a cruel, industrial world. The intense, visceral and at the same time stylish narrative of this film (exagerated gunplay, slow-motion sequences, actions filmed in a mirror) became the archetype for the genre. So did the generally melancholy atmosphere mixed with comical scenes. The film incorporates elements of The Wild Bunch and of Ford's western movies.

Ho and Mark are gangsters and very good friends. They inspect a laboratory where scientists are making counterfeit dollar notes. Wearing a suit and tie, and driving in a Rolls Royce, they deliver a briefcase full of such counterfeit money to a Western businessman who pays with a briefcase full of real Hong Kong money. They deliver the money to their boss who runs a large business office. Mark flirts with a secretary, Linda, who doesn't pay attention to him. The boss reminds Ho that his brother Kit is graduating that day. The boss also asks Ho to take the rookie Shing with him to a mission in Taiwan. Ho tells Mark that he wants his little brother to live a honest life, get married and have children. Kit has just graduated to police detective. Ho congratulates his little brother and meets his girlfriend Jackie, who is studying viola. They are meeting at Kit's home where their father is dying. Their father knows of Ho's criminal life and, when he remains alone with him, makes him promise that he will never harm Kit. Jackie fails her examination because of Kit's comical disasters as he tries to help her. During a lunch with Shing, Mark tells him of when gangsters made him drink urine. Ho has decided to abandon the criminal career: this will be his last job. Ho and Shing meet the Taiwanese gang in a remote area of Taiwan and deliver a briefcase of counterfeit dollars, But it is an ambush: Ho is wounded in the shootout and kills several of the Taiwanese gangsters. Ho and Shing, trapped in the house, are indirectly saved by the cops that rush in, and give them an opportunity to escape. The police chases them and Ho decides to give himself up in order to help Shing escape. Hours later a hitman enters Kit's home and tells their father that Ho crossed the line by killing those men. Jackie tries to defend the old man as the old man fights with the hitman. Kit arrives and a lengthy fist fight ensues which ends with Kit's father being stabbed to death by the hitman. Before dying, the old man's last words are a plea that Kit forgive his brother. Mark learns of the failed mission from the newspapers. The triad's boss tells him that his own nephew betrayed them and joined the Taiwanese gang. Mark is entrusted with exacting revenge. Mark attacks the Taiwanese gangsters in a restaurant: alone he coldly kills most of them. He is walking out thinking that he finished all of them when their leader crawls out from under a table and shoots him in the knees. Ho is imprisoned in Taiwan while Mark is left a cripple. Ho's brother Kit keeps training at the police academy. Three years later, Ho is released from jail. Outside there's a member of the triad waiting for him, but Ho tells him that he's done with the triad and walks away alone. Kit and Jackie are paying their respects to the grave of their father. On the way home they see Ho. It is raining heavily. Kit attacks Ho savagely, and Ho doesn't defend himself. Kit tells Ho that he never wants to see him again and leaves him in the mud. It is difficult for an ex-convict to find a job, but Ho finds a man, Kin, who runs a taxi operation and helps ex-cons. Ho soon becomes a good taxi driver. One day he spots Mark, limping in the street and washing a car's windshield. When the car's owner arrives, he tips Mark. Obviously the crippled Mark is reduced to work humble jobs. It turns out that Mark sent Ho letters in which he painted a completely different picture of his life. They hug like real brothers. Mark asks Ho to start all over again, but Ho shakes his head. Ho learns that Shing is the new boss of the triad, and Mark still works for him. Mark tells him that Kit is investigating Shing, which puts Kit in danger. Meanwhile, the police are still keeping an eye on Ho, suspecting his of contacts with the triad. This is holding back Kit's career: he would be promoted if he didn't have such a brother and he is removed from Shing's case. Kit still follows Shing and sees that Shing approaches Ho to convince him to work for the triad again. An enraged Kit drags Ho outside and treats him like an ordinary criminal. Ho swears in vain that he no longer works for the triad. Mark witnesses the scene and confronts the heartless Kit but is almost shot by Kit. Jackie comes to visit Ho at his workplace. She wants him to leave Hong Kong because Kit is too upset by his presence. But Ho has only one way to prove that he has a new life. Just then Shing's henchmen show up and demand that he follows them to a meeting with Shing and with Mark. Ho initially refuses but Shing makes it clear that he may harm his brother if he doesn't show up. They meet in the fancy office of the triad's boss, who has been replaced by Shing. Shing wants Ho to rejoin the organization and manage the counterfeit operations while Shing would focus on drugs. Shing also counts on Ho to convince his brother Kit to become an informer for the triad. Shing also threatens to fire Mark if Ho doesn't accept. Nonetheless, Ho flatly says no and threatens Shing with revenge if he hurts Kit.
Kit keeps following Shing and finds out where an important shipment of drugs will take place. His boss takes the information but tells him to stay out of it: he still doesn't trust him. His sweet wife Jackie has prepared a birthday cake for her own birthday but Kit in a fit of rage ignores her. Then he surprises her by pulling out a birthday gift: he didn't forget her birthday. Her birthday wish is that Kit and his brother can be friends again. Just then Ho shows up to warn him that Shing is laying a trap. The following day Kit falls in Shing's trap and gets seriously wounded. Shing also presides over a brutal beating of the crippled Mark, whose unconscious bleeding body is then dumped in Kin's garage. And Shing's goons attack Kin's garage destroying cars and equipment and savagely beating Kin himself and his ex-con workers until Ho arrives and fights back. But Kin tells him that fighting back is precisely what they want. Mark, instead, once he regains consciousness, asks Ho to fight one last battle against Shing and then leave Hong Kong: he has been waiting for three years for the moment of revenge against Shing who treated him like a beggar. Mark walks armed into the counterfeir laboratory and forces the scientists to give him a a computer tape. He is attacked by many gangsters but manages to escape with the tape. We now see Shing and the old boss arguing and we learn that the tape has compromising information that can ruin the triad. We also learn that it was Shing who betrayed Ho three years ealier. Ho calls Shing and demands money and an escape boat. The police is informed of everything and prepares a trap to capture everybody. Kit, just released from the hospital, wants to join the operation against his chief's orders. Ho delivers a package to Jackie while she is coaching a children's choir and tells her to give it to Kit and that he will be leaving Hong Kong. The package contains the computer tape with instructions that it proves Shing's criminal activities and with the information that Ho is meeting Shing that night. But when Jackie delivers the tape and Ho's message, Kit realizes that he has the golden chance to arrest Shing, so he grabs a gun and runs out, despite Jackie desperately trying to stop him; and that was not Ho's intention. Meanwhile, Shing coldly kills the old boss who wants to find an agreement with Ho. The meeting takes place in a Buddhist temple. Shing delivers a briefcase full of money. Ho and Mark take him hostage and drive to the pier where the boat is. There are dozens of Shing goons surrounding the area, ready to kill Ho and Mark, but Ho keeps his gun pointed at Shing as they walk to the boat. Then Ho tells Mark to take off in the boat with the money and promises to join him later. Kit is stupid enough to show up in the middle of all of this and is easily captured by Shing's goons. Ho trades Shing for his brother, but then Kit is stupid enough to attack Shing as their are walking past each other. This triggers a massive shootout in which the two brothers, seriously wounded, would easily be overpowered by the many gangsters if Mark didn't come back with more powerful weapons. Mark is a killing machine and causes several explosions. During a break in the shooting he drags Kit to Ho, who is lying on the floor, wounded and bleeding, and yells at him for not forgetting Ho's past. Shing takes advantage of the distraction and riddles Mark of bullets with his machine gun. Ho and Kit charge while the police are arriving, led by the officer who replaced Kit. Ho runs out of bullets and Shing could kill him, but shing calmly raises his hands and surrenders to the police, whispering to Ho that he has money and power and will be released in a few days, and making fun of poor Kit, who even lost his promotion. Kit hands Ho a gun so that Ho can kill Shing before he can reach the cops. Ho then takes Kit's handcuffs and handcuffs himself to him, and they walk together towards the cops.

Yingxiong Bense II/ A Better Tomorrow II (1987), his last film produced by Tsui Hark, proves that Woo's gangster movies are morality plays. The film boasts great action scenes despite a convoluted plot.

Kit is an undercover cop who is investigating Lung . Ho is a Lung man who accepts to cooperate with the police in exchange for a reduction in his sentence. Lung becomes the target of some gangsters and has to leave Hong Kong. Lung's enemies kill his daughter and his brother. Ho and Kit infiltrate the gang. Lung, helped by Ken, plans the revenge. Ho is ordered to kill Kit, whose true identity has been discovered. Kit dies in Ken's arms. The four men (of the apocalypse?) attack the gang in their hideout and after the massive shootout.
(Translation by/ Tradotto da Pensatore)

John Woo e' nato in Cina in una famiglia cristiana. Quando aveva cinque anni,i suoi genitori si trasferirono ad Hong Kong. John e'cresciuto in poverta',ma sviluppo' una passione per il cinema occidentale, che dimostro' formando un gruppo di aspiranti produttori di film. Woo comincio' a lavorare nel 1969 come regista e direttore assistente.Il suo primo film fu "I Giovani Dragoni" (1973),un film di Kung-fu che si distinse per le sequenze coreografiche d'azione,altamente complesse, di Jackie Chan. Dopo un gran numero di lavori minori nel genere delle arti marziali e nell'opera cinese, Woo ottenne il successo con leggere commedie sentimentali come "Il Progresso di Pilferer".

"Gli Eroi non Versano Lacrime"(1986) e` un film bellico. Commandos cinesi vengono spediti a combattere un anello di droga thailandese. Essi prendono il capo spacciatore come ostaggio e scappano nella giungla imbattendosi nell'esercito del suddetto capo.

"Un Domani Migliore"(1986) inizio` il genere eroico del cinema di Hong Kong. Grazie ad effetti visivi spettacolari,ad acrobatici giochi con le pistole, rimpiazza il kung-fu acrobatico. Grazie ai caratteri, che sarebbero stati tragici, se gli eroi non fossero stati morali, ai colpi di pistola assimilarono le etiche delle arti marziali.I temi di dovere,onore,lealta',vendetta, sono stati collocati in un cruento mondo industriale.La narrativa intensa,viscerale,e,nello stesso tempo stilistica di questo film(giochi di pistole esagerati, sequenze lente, azioni filmate in uno specchio) divenne l'archetipo del genere. Ho e Mark sono due gangsters, mentre il fratello del primo,Kit, si sta addestrando per diventare un ufficiale di polizia. Ho e' stanco del crimine ed e'pronto a cambiare strada, ma viene arrestato durante quello che avrebbe dovuto essere il suo ultimo lavoro. Il padre di Ho viene ucciso. Mark si vendica dei nemici di Ho, ma e' ricercato. Tre anni dopo,Ho, che viene rilasciato dal carcere, e' un riformato che lavora per Ken. La polizia lo tiene ancora sotto sorveglianza. Kit odia Ho, in quanto lo ritiene responsabile della morte di loro padre. Shing e'diventato un potente gangster. Egli offre un lavoro a Ho, particolarmente da quando il fratello puo' fornire loro importanti informazioni circa i movimenti della polizia. Ma il vero piano di Shing e' di uccidere entrambi, Mark e Kit. Ho si trova rigirato fra la moralita' e la lealta'. Durante l'ultimo scontro a fuoco, Ho aiuta Mark a scappare con una valigetta piena di denaro. Ho, successivamente, si arrende alla polizia. Mark torna indietro per aiutare Ho e muore per egli.. Ho e Kit si rappacificano.

"Un Domani Migliore II"(1987),prova che gli sceneggiati gangster di Woo sono giochi di moralita'. Kit e' un poliziotto sotto copertura che indaga su Lung. Ho e' un uomo di Lung che accetta di cooperare con la polizia in cambio di una riduzione nella sua sentenza. Lung diventa il bersaglio di alcuni gangsters ed e' costretto a lasciare Hong Kong. I suoi nemici uccidono sua figlia e suo fratello. Ho e Kit si infiltrano nella gang. Lung, aiutato da Ken, pianifica la sua vendetta. Ad Ho viene ordinato di uccidere Kit, la cui reale identita' e' stata scoperta. Kit muore nelle braccia di Ken. I quattro uomini (dell'apocalisse?) attaccano la banda nel suo lato nascosto e dopo un massiccio scontro a fuoco.

Diexue Shuang Xiong/ The Killer (1989) ranks among his masterpieces, and is the film that made the director famous abroad. While it does not significantly innovate over the established themes and techniques of Woo's cinema, it provides an elegant and mature "summary" and unification of all of them. There is a new metaphysical/spiritual element (Jeffrey is Jesus), though, that somehow spawns in turn a sociopolitical critique of capitalism. The plot mixes Jean-Pierre Melville's Le Samourai and Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch; and the cop is reminiscent of Clint Eastwood's character Harry Callahan in Sudden Impact (1983). John is presented in epic terms. This is at first a film on heroic adventures, then a film on friendship, the only value for which it seems worth living and dying. The protagonists slowly commit suicide, a bit at a time: they spend all their time being shot or breaking the rules, thereby increasingly destroying their lives. It is in death that they find the meaning of their lives, because they can claim of having died for friendship. The girl represents the only good thing in John's life but she doesn't belong to his world and in fact he cannot touch her when he is dying.

In a church that looks like a river of candles, a man, Ah Jong, is staring at the statue of the Virgin Mary when another man, his older friend Sei, walks in. Sei delivers a briefcase containing money, a gun and the photo of a man to kill. Ah Jong walks into a nightclub where a cute singer is performing. He finds his way into a private room where he kills his target, but this causes a massive shootout during which he has to kill scores of gangsters. The singer gets caught in the crossfire and wounded in an eye. Back at the church, his friend Sei removes the bullets from Ah Jong's back. Meanwhile the doctor informs Jenny that her cornea has been damaged and that she will need a cornea transplant or go blind. She sees everything blurred. Ah Jong visits the nightclub again to listen to her singing and then watches as she walks home alone using a cane because she can't see well. He sees two thugs attack her and springs into action, making them run away and returning the purse to a frightened Jenny who cannot see him well, and doesn't recognize him as the hitman. Ah Jong escorts Jenny home Meanwhile, cop Li and his partners set a trap to arrest some gun smugglers. A traffic cop who is just passing by causes another massive shootout. The ringleader runs away and jumps on a tram. Li chases him on the tram and shoots him even though the criminal has taken a person hostage. A passenger has a heart attack and the family sues the police department. The chief is angry at Li for endangering the lives of innocents on a tram. Meanwhile, Sei visits Ah Jong at his home. We learn that Sei is a respected elderly triad member but his right hand is injured so he can't shoot anymore. Sei delivers another briefcase for another job. This time Ah Jong asks for a lot of money: he has become very close to Jenny and wants to pay for her cornea transplant. Ah Jong rents a motorboat during the race of the dragon festival and shoots the target, a politician named Wong. Li is there to protect Wong and sees the motorboat sail away. Li and his partner jump into another motorboat and chase Ah Jong. Ah Jong lands at a beach where a little girl is playing in the sand. He realizes that someone is hiding among the trees with a gun and jumps just in time to avoid being killed. Ah Jong shoots the gangsters who ambushed him but causes an explosion that attracts Li and his partner. Now it's a three way shootout: the gangsters who try to kill Ah Jong, the cops who try to arrest him, and Ah Jong who has to defend from both. In the middle of the shootout Ah Jong risks his life to protect the little girl who has been caught in the crossfire and wounded. He drags her into a car and drives at maximum speed towards a hospital. The cops take another car and chase him. At the hospital Ah Jong first delivers the girl to the emergency room and then takes Li's partner hostage to make sure that Li won't interfere with the urgent surgery. Ah Jong then escapes stealing the keys of the car used by the cops, so they cannot chase him anymore. Li realizes that Ah Jong is not the regular killer: he is humane and very intelligent. Meanwhile, Ah Jong demands his payment from his friend Sei. Sei, however, receives instructions from the triad's boss to terminate Ah Jong because he has compromised his own identity. Meanwhile, Li has guessed that Ah Jong is the same acrobatic hitman who killed a lot of people at the nightclub and visits it while Jenny is singing and learns from her that she has a kind friend who visits her. Sei visits Ah Jong with a briefcase that contains white paper instead of money, but Ah Jong has guessed the betrayal and welcomes him at gunpoint. He then lets Sei grab the gun to test him: Sei pulls the trigger but there are no bullets inside. Seconds later they are attacked by a group of gangsters, obviously sent by the same boss to make sure that Ah Jong, gets killed, and Ah Jong kills them all. Sei tells him who the boss is and why he wants him dead. Ah Jong doesn't kill him. Li arrives later to investigate and, besides the dead bodies, finds photos of Jenny, and makes the connection: Ah Jong is the mysterious friend who visits Jenny. Li then waits for Ah Jong in Jenny's apartment. Jenny is now almost completely blind and doesn't realize that the two are aiming a gun at each other while they chat with her, pretending to be old friends. Ah Jong manages to escape again. Li explains to Jenny that Ah Jong is the one who caused her blindness and convince her to help them arrest him. Later, Sei begs the triad's boss to let him pay Ah Jong: it's a matter of honor, as he has never failed to deliver what he promised. Just then Ah Jong attacks the triad's boss but fails to kill him. Sei is the only one who manages to chase Ah Jong. Ah Jong stops the car and angrily confronts Sei because he has seen him beg the boss and is ashamed that an elderly member of the triad would lower himself to beg. Sei is old-fashioned and still respects the old code of honor. Jenny accepts Li's plan to arrest Ah Jong and tells Ah Jong to meet her at the airport. Li deploys an army of police officers. At the last minute Jenny changes her mind and, blind, starts shouting warnings to Ah Jong. Sei shows up and the cops starts chasing him while Ah Jong, disguised as a business man, takes Jenny into the luggage carousel and escapes again. This time the chief removes Li from the job and assigns it to a new detective. Li's partner follows Sei to see where he will go and is caught in the middle of a shootout as the triad tries to assassinate Sei. Despite being wounded, Li's partner drives and chases the gangsters who are chasing Sei. He dies but before dying he can whisper to Li where Sei went. Sei leaves Ah Jong with an arsenal of guns and then promises to get his money from the boss, one way or another: he wants to pay his debt. He tells Ah Jong to meet him at the church. Li jumps on a motorcycle and rushes to Ah Jong's place, but arrives when the triad's gangsters are surrounding Ah Jong's place. Jenny is inside but can't see anything. Li tries to arrest Ah Jong and again they get in the situation where each is pointing his gun at the other, but Jenny grabs another gun and points it at Li, determined to defend Ah Jong even if he's a killer. Just then the gang attacks the house. In the massive shoutout Li and Ah Jong join forces and become friends. When they have killed them all, Li takes Ah Jong's bullets out. They chat about life, recognizing each other's moral values. Ah Jong asks Li a favor: if he gets killed, he wants Li to make sure that his corneas will be used for Ah Jong's eyes. The three head for the church where Sei is supposed to bring the money. Sei is meeting the boss. He demands the money but the boss laughes at his sense of honor and dignity. The boss and his men fight Sei, who seems to have zero chances against them, but then Sei prevails and leaves with the briefcase full of money, chased by the boss and his men. A bleeding Sei enters the church and delivers the briefcase, but he is followed by the triad's gangsters who attack the church. Sei is mortally wounded and demands that Ah Jong finishes him so he won't die like a dog. Li and Ah Jong fight with the dozens of gangsters in a grand display of courage and bonding. They seem to have won but the boss takes Jenny hostage. Li grabs one of the boss' thugs as a hostage to trade for Jenny, but the boss simply shoots his own thug and then points the gun again at Jenny's head. Ah Jong has to drop his gun and the boss immediately shoots him. The bullets hit both of Ah Jong's eyes. He agonizes on the floor while Li chases the boss. Ah Jong is dying blind. Jenny is completely blind too and crawls towards him while he crawls towards her, but they miss each other and he dies without being able to hug her (and won't be able to donate his corneas because his eyes have been shot). Police cars arrive. The boss, terrified that Li is about to finish him, surrenders to the cops and begs them for protection from Li. Li advances in the middle of the cops and coldly executes the boss.
Die Xue Shuang Xiong/ Killer (1989) e` il film che lo rese famoso nel mondo. Woo dipinge John con toni epici. Prima e` un film sull'eroismo, e poi e` un film sull'amicizia, l'unica cosa per cui sembra valer la pena vivere e morire. I protagonisti si suicidano poco alla volta: nel film non fanno che incassare pallottole o violare le regole della polizia, in tal modo distruggendo sempre piu` le proprie vite. Ma nella morte trovano il loro senso, perche' possono affermare di essere morti per l'amicizia. Jenny rappresenta l'unica cosa buona della vita di John. Ma non appartiene alla vita di John, e infatti quando John sta morendo non riesce a toccarla. John e` un killer a pagamento. In una chiesa un intermediario gli consegna una valigetta. John esegue gli ordini per cui e` stato pagato e si reca in un club dove deve sterminare tutta la banda. E` un killer insolito, perche' ha un'aria sempre malinconica. Sul palco si sta esibendo una ragazza. La scena e` filmata al rallentatore. John massacra tutti i gangster e per sbaglio colpisce la ragazza al viso. La protegge per quanto puo`, ma deve scappare. In chiesa i complici gli estraggono le pallottole dalla schiena.
Il detective Li interroga la cantante, che e` rimasta parzialmente cieca, ma ha paura di collaborare. La sera la ragazza esce appoggiandosi a un bastone. Alcuni teppisti la aggrediscono. John e` li` che la sta osservando e interviene. Jenny non lo riconosce perche' non lo vede bene. Lui sembra provare rimorso per averla ferito e tenta di rimediare comportandosi da amico.
Intanto l'ispettore Li, anche lui insolito nel suo campo, e` riuscito a infiltrarsi in una banda e riesce a farsi portare di persona a uno scambio di armi con il leggendario criminale Eddie. Purtroppo sul gruppo capita un poliziotto in motocicletta. Eddie lo fredda e poi accusa John di averli traditi. Li non ha scelta e deve scatenare la sparatoria, nella quale muoiono tutti meno Eddie. Eddie salta su un tram. La sparatoria continua fra i passeggeri e una donna muore di attacco cardiaco. I superiori lo redarguiscono per essere stato cosi` sconsiderato da sparare fra la folla, ma lui era da mesi che sognava di prendere questo criminale, che per di piu` gli ha ucciso un poliziotto sotto gli occhi.
Sidney e` il miglior amico di John. Soffre perche' non puo` fare il killer come potrebbe: gli funziona soltanto una mano. Fa da intermediario per un altro boss, che vuole la testa di Tony, l'uomo che controlla il traffico della droga. John e` stanco di uccidere, ma Jenny ha bisono di un trapianto di cornea che verra` a costare molto caro e pertanto accetta. E` diventato il suo ragazzo.
L'attentato si svolge durante il Dragon Boat Festival. Tony e` un personaggio importante e proprio Li e il suo partner Chang vengono incaricati di proteggerlo durante la manifestazione, benche' ripugni a entrambi. John e` su un motoscafo al largo e li osserva con il binocolo. Prende la mira e lo uccide con precisione incredibile. Poi fugge sul motoscafo inseguito da Chang e compagno su un altro motoscafo. Approda a una spiaggia su cui giocano alcuni bambini. Ma ad attenderlo c'e` un'auto, e killer appostati fra le canne. Un riflesso lo mette in guardia. Li sgomina tutti, ma la sparatoria attira Li. I bambini vengono presi in mezzo nella sparatoria e una bambina viene colpita. John rischia la propria vita per portare la bambina in salvo e caricarla su un'auto. Poi scappa, di nuovo inseguito da Li. Li intuisce che, se ha rischiato la vita per quella bambina, la portera` a un ospedale. E infatti Li e` arrivato al primo ospedale e ha depositato la bambina sul tavolo operatorio. Li lo raggiunge, mentre la bambina da` i primi cenni di riprendersi, ma lui e` piu` svelto e fugge di nuovo.
I superiori rimproverano Li per essersi lasciato uccidere Tony sotto gli occhi. Li si mette sulle tracce di John. E` affascinato dalla sua calma e dal suo sguardo.
John chiede di essere pagato, ma il nuovo capo della malavita lo vuole morto per eliminare testimoni e incarica proprio Sidney di ucciderlo. La polizia risale alla sparatoria nel bar e alla ragazza, e Li capisce presto che uno come lui non abbandonerebbe la ragazza dopo averla ferita. Li si reca nel locale dove lei canta al pianoforte e aspetta.
John ha capito che e` stato l'amico a fare in modo che lo aspettassero alla spiaggia e appena lo vede lo picchia, ma l'amico gli prende la pistola mentre lui apre la valigia dove dovrebbero esserci i soldi. John aveva tolto le pallottole e si fa una risata. Non riesce pero` a ucciderlo: lo stordisce soltanto. Ma massacra gli altri gangster che lo incalzano da tutte le direzioni. Poi punta la pistola al visto dell'amico e gli fa confessare chi e` che lo vuole morto: e` Weng, il nipote di Tony.
John gli risparmia la vita. L'amico e` sorpreso, ma John e` stanco di uccidere.
Li accorre sul posto e riconosce le foto della ragazza e intuisce che si tratta del killer a cui stanno dando la caccia. John intanto si reca dalla ragazza. Li lo stava aspettando. Si puntano la rivoltella a vicenda mentre parlano tranquillamente alla ragazza facendo finta di nulla per non spaventarla. John riesce a scappare in maniera comica. Li torna su e spiega la verita` a Jenny. Jenny non vuole credere che John e` un assassino ed e` quello che l'ha ferita. Li tenta a convincerla a colaborare con la scusa che e` l'unico modo di evitare che John venga ucciso da Weng. Infatti il boss ha ordinato la sua esecuzione a un killer professionista e al suo esercito di gangster. John e` gia` sulla pista del boss, deciso a farsi pagare i soldi del contratto. John sente l'amico tentare di intercedere a suo favore. Poi entra in azione nel garage. Ferisce anche il boss, e scappa in auto inseguito soltanto dall'amico. John si lascia raggiungere su una collina che guarda su Hong Kong e si sfoga con l'amico. Poi gli offre la mano. Sono di nuovo amici.
John telefona a Jenny. Li e` ancora li` e ha convinto la ragazza a tedergli una trappola all'aeroporto. John si fida di lei.
Ma nell'aeroporto la ragazza ci ripensa e si mette a urlare. La polizia insegue qualcuno che sembra John ma e` Sidney, che si e` prestato a depistare la polizia. John aspetta che si allontanino e prende la ragazza. Riescono a fuggire al formicaio di poliziotti. Li interroga invano Sidney, che rifiuta di collaborare.
Dopo l'ennesimo fallimento, Li viene rimosso dal caso.
John spiega a Jenny che ha ucciso soltanto persone che meritavano di morire ma adesso non vuole piu` uccidere nessuno. Rimettono in liberta` Sidney sperando che li porti dal killer.
Viene la resa dei conti per Sidney. Prima i gangster feriscono il poliziotto partner di Li (Chang) che lo sta tenendo d'occhio, poi lo inseguono in auto e Chan li insegue a sua volta sanguinante. Sidney arriva da John, mortificato di non essere riuscito a fargli pagare il dovuto, e giura di tornare dal boss e farsi dare i soldi.
Li va a trovare in ospedale Chang che gli muore sotto gli occhi, e giura vendetta. Chang gli ha rivelato l'indirizzo verso cui si dirigeva John. I gangster lo aspettavano all'uscita dell'ospedale e si mettono all'inseguimento. Li ferma John e che stavano per partire alla volta di Singapore. John rifiuta di arrendersi e lo invita a ucciderlo. Dopo una colluttazione si ritrovano di nuovo a terra pistola contro pistola. Jenny supplica Li di lasciarli in pace. Li si sta lasciando impietosire, ma non c'e` tempo: l'armata di gangster si sta avventando sulla casa. Li e John si ritrovano alleati contro tutti, in una sparatoria apocalittica. Riescono a scappare su un'auto nella bolgia infernale. Poi John disarma Li, ma Li ha capito che lui non sparerebbe a un poliziotto. Li l'ha capito meglio di chiunque altro. Li cura anzi le ferite di John.
John, Li e Jenny si rifugiano nella chiesa. Ci sono milioni di candele ma la ragazza non vede piu`nulla: e` diventata completamente cieca. Adesso John ha bisogno disperatamente dei soldi, che Sidney ha promesso di recuperarlgi dal boss
Sidney va dal boss, calmo ed elegante, poco dopo che i sopravvissuti hanno restituito il compenso per aver fallito la missione. Sidney sgomina tutti e con la pistola alla gola obbliga il boss a consegnargli il denaro, ma il boss capovolge le sorti e i gangster si mettono a picchiare Sidney per fargli confessare dove si nasconde John. La scena e` intervallata a quella di John e Li che parlano in chiesa delle loro vite. Sidney sanguinante continua a chiedere il denaro e a lottare. Vuole saldare il debito con il suo miglior amico. Con un ultimo eroico sforzo riesce a farsi dare il denaro e a scappare in auto.
John fa promettere a Li di prendersi cura di Jenny se gli accadesse qualcosa. Sidney arriva sanguinante alla chiesa con i soldi, ma lo hanno inseguito in decine guidati da Weng. I gangster attaccano la chiesa. Sidney muore, e in punta di morte dice a John che loro due appartrengono a una vecchia generazione . John lo uccide perche' sta soffrendo.
John rifiuta di scappare con Li e si avvia verso i gangster. Li non resiste e lo segue spalla a spalla. Affrontano gangster che spintano da tutte le parti. Li viene colpito, John viene colpito. Un prete porta in salvo la ragazza mentre i due compiono l'ultima disperata sortita, imbrattati di sangue. Una scena che ricorda Wild Bunch.
Li e John inseguino i gangster persino fuori (una delle piu` gigantesche della storia del cinema). Weng cattura Jenny. Li prende in ostaggio il suo braccio destro, ma Weng, spietato, uccide il suo stesso uomo. John non ha scelta: deve sacrificarsi. Weng massacra John e scappa, mentre John rantola e Jenny lo cerca. Li da` la caccia a Weng per finirlo. John e Lenny strisciano di fianco l'una all'altra senza trovarsi. Weng si consegna alla polizia (che e` arrivata in massa) per non essere ucciso da Li. ma Li lo fredda davanti a tutti i poliziotti, e grida piangendo "il mio amico"!

Yidan Qun Ying/ Just Heroes (1990), codirected with with Wu Ma, is a minor gangster film about younger gangsters after their boss dies; an inferior version of A Better Tomorrow despite the star-studded cast.

Dip Huet Gai Tau/ Bullet in the Head (1990) is both another gangster film and a war epic. It is his darkest film ever, in which Woo indulges not only in noir atmospheres and extremely violent scenes but in exploring the bleakest side of human nature: greed, betrayal, cruelty. The core of the film is the tragedy of betrayal: the violent and emotional peaks of the film (the torture in the Vietcong camp and the final duel) mirror each other, but the betrayal of the friend hurts more than the cruely and torture of the enemy. One man represents everything that is noble about humankind: altruism, generosity and self-sacrifice; and the other one represents everything that is squalid about humankind: greed, selfishness, amorality. It stands as a giant parable of the eternal battle between good and evil. It is also one of Woo's most personal films as he was an anti-war activist during the US-Vietnam War and the film was made right after the Tiananmen Square massacre in mainland China. It has echoes of Apocalypse Now, The Deer Hunter and, as usual, The Wild Bunch, but also of Von Stroheim's Greed. (The only extant version of the film is missing almost 45 minutes of footage).

The film is set in 1967, while the USA is fighting a war in Vietnam and China is devastated by Mao's Cultural Revolution. The film opens with a fight between gangs and with a kid flying a kite to a girl's balcony. A flashback shows us the three friends Frank, Ben and Paul from childhood to today. Other than the scuffles with the rival gang, they are happy: we see them racing on bicycles at night. Ben marries Jane and Frank is in charge of borrowing the money to pay for the wedding banquet. Frank borrows money from Kwai but Ringo's gang attacks him and tries to steal it. Frank escapes with the money and shows up on time to pay but his friends notice the bleeding wound. Finally, Frank confesses that he has been attacked. Ben wants revenge. Ben and Frank attack Ringo's gang and a big stick and knife fight erupts during which Ben kills Ringo. Jane the bride waits in vain for Ben to return. The cops knock at her door to inform her that he is wanted for murder. On top of that, Kwai is looking for Frank to get the money back. The trio decides to leave Hong Kong. In the middle of a communist riot, suppressed by the police with tear gases, Ben says farewell to Jane, indifferent to the bomb that explodes killing the soldier who was trying to disable it. The trio take a boat to Vietnam, where the USA is fighting a bloody war, and plan to make money by smuggling goods. They are already dreaming how they will spend their money when a terrorist, trying to kill a general, blows up their taxi and all their belongings. A child then throws another bomb. They are rounded up with other suspects and taken into a compound where they witness the military kill the child who threw the second bomb and who refuses to collaborate. The trio then explores the night life of Saigon where prostitutes and US soldiers mingle at the sound of rock'n'roll. They are looking for a Europeans called Luke who can introduced them to mobster Leung. Ben sees a Chinese girl, Sally, being mistreated by Leung's gang. She gives Ben an appointment at a bridge. Luke arrives but first he has something to do: he walks into the restrooms and shoots dead the man who was slapping Sally. Then he talks with the trio. Paul wants weapons. Luke provides them. Paul and Frank wants to test the power of guns and rob a store. While they are walking out, they see a jeep full of soldiers coming their way and raise their hands to surrender, but the soldiers don't want them: they want to rob the jewelry shop behind them. They kill the owner, steal the jewelry and drive away, indifferent to the two Chinese small-time thief. At the bridge where he has an appointment with Stella, Ben witnesses an antiwar demonstration that turns into a violent riot. Ben and Stella finally manage to walk out of the mess and she tells him that she was hired by Leung as a singer who then forced her to become a prostitute and a drug addict. Stella tells him that Luke fell in love with her and they planned to run away but they were caught by Leung's goons and Luke was beaten. Frank, Paul, and Ben join Luke in an attempt to free Stella. They arrive when rogue soldiers just deliverd Leung some gold and documents containing CIA secrets to sell to the enemy. The trio pretends to get into a fight but instead grabs guns hidden in the piano and then shoots Leung's men and and takes Leung hostage, while Luke uses dynamite disguised as cigars to make his way into Luke's office and blow up his safe. Ben frees Sally, who has been drugged, and finds her passport, so she can leave Vietnam, while Paul finds Leung's gold. They have what they wanted but to get out they have to survive a massive shootout with Leung's men. Leung shoots Sally and wounds her. Luke and Paul carry her to the car while Ben and Frank stall the police that just arrived. Using the dynamite cigas, Ben and Frank get out alive and jump into the car. Luke starts driving away but they are soon in the middle of a battlefield, with bombs exploding all around them and a crowd of desperate civilians begging for help. They reach a river and Luke tells Frank to plant mines around them, while Paul stares at his gold and Sally agonizes. The boat arrives but so do the gangsters and the corrupt soldiers. Ben tries in vain to carry Stella to the boat under heavy fire but she dies. The helmsman is killed. The mines stop the gangsters. The foursome have to abandon Stella's body in the river and flee in the boat. Paul is getting obsessed with the gold to the point that Ben starts throwing in the river. Paul then points his gun at his friend. Frank too throws gold in the river and asks to be shot too. They are asking him if the gold is more important than their friendship. Paul drops the gun but hugs the remaining gold. The gangsters and the corrupt soldiers catch up with them and blow up the boat. The four have barely time to jump. Paul is going crazy over the gold: he dives to rescue it and almost drowns. Luke is left alone to fight the attackers but he is a killing machine but he would be overwhelmed by the gangsters if the Vietcong didn't surround everybody. The Vietcong arrest Luke and then arrest the trio. They are all taken to a camp where many other men are kept prisoners. They witness torture and executions. The Vietcong find the gold and, hidden in the gold and unbeknownst to Paul, the CIA documents. They now suspect that the trio works for the CIA. The Vietcong commander lets them watch as a US soldier is forced at gunpoint to kill other prisoners until he refuses and then he is killed. Then they force Frank to kill three US soldiers. To save Frank who is having a nervous breakdown, Ben volunteers to kill the next ones, but it's only an excuse to start shooting the Vietcong. Ben and Frank engage in a massive shoutout with no chance of winning while Paul does the same in the hat where he is being interrogated about the CIA. Just then the US forces, tipped by Luke, attack the camp with helicopters, It's a massacre. Ben executes the commander who forced Frank to kill prisoners. Paul grabs his gold and runs, abandoning his friends again. Frank finds him but gets wounded. He is screaming in pain and this might betray them to the Vietcong: Paul, failing to silence him, shoots him in the back of the head to kill him. Luke saw it. Paul keeps running away, carrying his gold. He shoots a lot of innocent villagers in order to steal their boat. Ben tries to protect a child and gets shot in the back. Paul leaves smiling in the boat. Buddhist monks find Ben unconscious and take him to the temple where he is cared for, while Luke finds Frank almost dead and loads him in a helicopter.
A year later, Ben meets Luke again. Luke tells Ben that Frank is alive but in terrible psychological conditions. We see a deranged and armed Frank face a man and kill him in the street for no apparent reason. Then he gets paid for the killing and runs to buy heroin from a drug dealer. Luke knows where Frank hides and takes Ben to see Frank, but it is a terrible sight: Frank behaves like a feral animal and even tries to kill Ben when Ben tries to take the drug away from him. Luke tells Ben that the bullet is still in Frank's head: if operated, Frank would become a vegetable. Ben cries and tries to find some emotion in Frank's heart by talking about their childhood. But Frank shows no emotion whatsoever. Luke hands Ben a gun to finish Frank and Frank doesn't move: Ben shoots and kills him, his best friend.
Ben leaves Luke and Ben joins the thousands of villagers marching towards safer areas, escorted by US tanks, while the Vietcong advance and bombs explode all around them. Ben travels back to to his wife Jane in Hong Kong, who is running a shop and has raised his son, named Frank. Ben still has one revenge to exact. Paul has used the gold to start his own company and has become a rich and powerful businessman. Ben visits him in the middle of a board meeting. Paul offers him half of what he owns, but Ben unwraps a gift for him in front of everybody: Frank's skull. Ben always promised Frank to bring him back to Hong Kong and he did. Then he exhibits the bullet that Paul shot in Frank's head. Paul doesn't show any remorse. Ben leaves, taking the skull with him. ben waits for Paul in the garage of the building and then chases him with his car. It becomes a sort of car duel in the streets of Hong Kong, with the two cars hitting each other repeatedly, each driver trying to kill the other. They end their mad race at the pier where they once raced on their bicycles. They crash repeatedly their cars into each other and shoot repeatedly at each other, wounding each other. After one last crash, Paul's car overturns and Ben's car explodes. The two former friends face each other in a gun duel while multiple explosions rock the pier. Paul could finish a disarmed Ben but gets distracted by Frank's skull. Paul starts talking to it. Then he puts his gun in Ben's hand and forces Ben's hand to aim at the skull and to pull the trigger (like Ben did to kill Frank). The skull rolls into the flames. But that's when Ben has a chance: he grabs Paul's head and executes him the way he executed the Vietcong commander.

Zongsheng Sihai/ Once a Thief (1991) is another minor film, a comedy and caper movie that marks a return to the light-hearted style of his early days. But it improves over that format because the characters are trapped in a convoluted web of melodramatic relationships that borders on a love triangle and a Oedipus complex.

Joe, Jim and Cherie are a trio of thieves that specializes in stealing paintings from museums around the world. They show their skills in Paris, when they steal a painting while it is being moved from the Louvre to another museum. They use all sorts of acrobatic acts and masterful tricks.
The three were adopted as children by a cruel Hong Kong crime lord, Chow, who considers them his own sons and raised them to be criminals. There is a strange relationship among the three: Jim the shy and Joe the womanizer vie for Cherie's attention, and Jim is jealous of Joe.
A French collector hires them to steal a cursed painting from a haunted castle, but their father doublecrosses them and tries to kill them. After a gigantic car chase and shootout, Joe is lost in the explosion of a boat.
Jim and Cherie think him dead and decide to Hong Kong and get married. But two years later Joe returns: he is alive, but confined to a wheel chair. They learn that the cursed painting is now in the hands of her "father" and realize that it was one of his machinations. Joe and Jim decide to take revenge by stealing it for real.

Lashou Shentan/ Hard Boiled (1992) was to be Woo's last Hong Kong film. It is also his most fluid exercise in violent and fast-paced scenes.

Tequila is an overzealous police detective who gets involved in a carnage in which many bystanders are killed. Tequila and his men kill most of the gangsters, including a mysterious individual who just killed Tequila's partner. It turns out that the mysterious gangster was an undercover cop and that Tequila has ruined an undercover operation.
Tony is a killer who works for one boss, Hoi, but is courted by a rival, Johnny. It turns out that Tony is also an undercover cop, who is trying to infiltrate Johnny's organization. Johnny hires Tony to attack Hoi and, when they have defeated the gang, orders Tony to kill Hoi, his old boss. Enters Tequila, a living nuclear bomb, and interrupts the celebrations. The shootout is another carnage, and Tequila almost kills Tony, who simply escapes. Once he is informed of Tony's real identity, Tequila joins him and helps him destroy Johnny's organization, via a colossal shootout in an overcrowded hospital.

Hard Target (1993) is a vehicle for a Jean-Claude Van Damme action movie.

Chance (Van Damme) is an unemployed sailor who defends Natasha from some gangsters who don't want her to investigate the hunting incident that his father was victim of. Needing money, Chance accepts to help Natasha find her father. The two get in trouble with the gangsters, who chased them all over the city and the countryside.

Broken Arrow (1996) was also a commercial compromise, a spy thriller with lots of computer-generated special effects.

Riley and his superior Vic are air force officers that hate each other. Vic beats and humiliates Riley on a boxing ring and later Vic tries to kill Riley during a flight. The plane crashes and both pilots eject.
Riley lands in the desert and has to disarm a ranger who wants to arrest him. Riley convinces the ranger to help him stop the evil Vic whose goal is to steal some nuclear bombs.
The plot is approximate (to say the least).

Once a Thief: Brother Against Brother (1996) is a misguided follow-up to Once A Thief, and a pilot for a television series, that fails both as comedy and as action.

Mac, Li Ann and Michael are three Hong Kong thieves. Michael is the son of a mafia boss, the other two have been adopted by the same. Michael and Li Ann are engaged, because so wants their father, but Li Ann loves Mac. Mac and Li Ann try to rob the boss and flee with the money, but they are caught in the act. Li Ann escapes, but Mac is arrested by the police.
While in prison, Mac is blackmailed by the police: if he refuses to cooperate, they will release him, and his life will be worthless because the mafia wants his head. Mac is shocked to meet again Li Ann, who has joined the same organization, and, believing him dead, is now engaged to Victor. Michael becomes their enemy, both because he represents the mafia and because he is chasing Victor to kill him and recover his fiance`.
(Translation by Gaia Giorgi / Tradotto da Gaia Giorgi )

Yidan Qun Ying / Just Heroes (1990) e' un film minore sulle vicissitudini di giovani gangster dopo la morte dei loro boss.

Bullet in the head (1990) di Woo e' una narrazione epica sulla guerra in Vietnam incentrata sulla vita di tre amici.

Mentre si reca al matrimonio dei suoi amici Ben e Jane, Frank viene attaccato dalla banda di Ringo. Dopo il matrimonio, Frank e Ben decidono di uccidere Ringo ma sono costretti a lasciare Hong Kong. Scelgono di andare in Vietnam ma rimangono coinvolti nella guerra: un massacro dopo un altro. Frank, Vincent e Ben sono assoldati da un gangster locale, insieme a Luke e la cantante/squillo Sally. I tre amici decidono di derubare il boss e rendere libera Sally che, purtroppo, durante la fuga muore. I vietcong li catturano e costringono Frank ad uccidere i prigionieri americani ma Ben lo aiuta a fuggire. Arrivano gli americani guidati da Luke. I tre amici si nascondono. Vincent tradisce i due amici e scappa con l'oro, sparando agli innocenti abitanti dei villaggi durante la fuga. Un anno dopo Ben rincontra Frank, ormai tossicodipendente ed efferato assassino che gli chiede di ucciderlo e Ben... lo fa. Ben ritorna ad Hong Kong da sua moglie e suo figlio Vincent ha avviato un'azienda ma Ben non ha dimenticato quanto accadde e, datogli la caccia, lo uccide. Woo si crogiola nell'atmosfera noir e nelle scene violente.

Zongsheng Sihai/ Once a thief (1991) e' un altro film minore, una commedia movimentata che segna un ritorno allo stile spensierato dei suoi primi anni ma con uno sviluppo del genere in cui i personaggi si ritrovano intrappolati in una complicata rete di relazioni sentimentali intessuta da un triangolo amoroso e complesso di Edipo.

Joe, Jim e Cherie formano un terzetto di ladri specializzato nel furto di opere d'arte nei musei di tutto il mondo. Danno mostra delle proprie capacita' in occasione del trasferimento di un dipinto dal Louvre ad un altro museo. Fanno uso di una quantita' di acrobazie e trucchi formidabili. I tre furono adottati di bambini da Chow, un crudele signore del crimine, e si considerarono come suoi figli, cresciuti per essere dei criminali. Fra i tre si instaura una strana relazione: Jim il timido e Joe il donnaiolo si disputano l'attenzione di Cherie; Jim e' geloso dell'amico. Un collezionista francese li ingaggia per rubare un dipinto maledetto da un castello infestato dagli spettri, ma il loro padre li inganna e tenta di ucciderli. Dopo incredibili inseguimenti e sparatorie, Joe nell'esplosione di una barca viene dato per disperso. Jim e Cherie pensano che sia morto e decidono di andare ad Hong Kong per sposarsi. Due anni dopo, pero', Joe ricompare: e' vivo ma costretto su una sedia a rotelle; comprendono che il dipinto maledetto e' ora nelle mani del "padre" di Cherie (?) e si rendono conto che quella era una delle sue macchinazioni. Joe e Jim decidono di vendicarsi rubandolo per davvero.

Lashou Shentan / Hard boiled (1992) e' l'ultimo film girato ad Hong Kong di John Woo; e' anche il piu' scorrevole nella rappresentazione della violenza e delle scene "rallentate".

Tequila, un piu' che zelante detective della polizia, rimane coinvolto in una strage in cui molti passanti rimangono uccisi. Insieme ai suoi uomini uccide la maggior parte dei gangster, compreso un individuo misterioso che aveva ammazzato il suo compagno. Si scopre poi che il misterioso gangster era un poliziotto infiltrato e che Tequila aveva vanificato l'operazione di copertura. Tony e' un killer che pur lavorando per un boss, Hoi, riceve delle offerte da un rivale, Johnny. Si scopre che anche Tony e' un poliziotto che tenta di infiltrarsi nell'organizzazione di Johnny. Johnny assolda Tony perche' combatta Hoi e quando la banda e' sconfitta gli ordina di uccidere Hoi, il suo vecchi boss. Tequila, bomba nucleare vivente, si intromette interrompendo la festa. La sparatoria provoca un'altra carneficina e Tequila sta quasi per uccidere Tony che, semplicemente, fugge. Una volta informato della vera identita' di Tony si unisce a lui aiutandolo a distruggere l'organizzazione di Johnny, ingaggiando una sparatoria in un ospedale sovraffollato.

Hard Target (1993) [distribuito in Italia con il titolo "Senza tregua"] e' un mediocre veicolo come film d'azione per Jean Claude Van Damme. Chance (Van Damme) e' un sarto disoccupato che difende Natasha da alcuni gangster che vogliono impedire di investigare sull'incidente di caccia di cui fu vittima suo padre. Chance accetta di aiutare Natasha e trovare suo padre. I due di trovano nei guai con i gangster e vengono inseguiti per tutta la citta' e le campagne.

Anche Broken Arrow (1996) e' un compromesso commerciale. Riley ed il suo superiore Vic sono ufficiali dell'aeronautica con un odio reciproco. Vic sconfigge ed umilia Riley sul ring e, in seguito, tenta di ucciderlo durante un volo. Prima che l'aeroplano si schianti i due si lanciano. Riley atterra nel deserto e deve disarmare un ranger che vuole arrestarlo. Riley la convince ad aiutarlo e fermare il malvagio Vic che punta a rubare bombe nucleari. La trama e' approssimativa (a dir poco).

Once a thief: Brother Against Brother (1996) e' una variante del seguito di Once A Thief, ed e' una puntata pilota per una serie televisiva, fallita sia come commedia che come film d'azione.

Mac, Li Ann e Michael sono tre ladri di Hong Kong. Michael e' il figlio di un boss della mafia e gli altri due sono stati adottati dallo stesso. Michael e Li Ann sono fidanzati poiche' cosi' vuole il padre ma Li Ann ama Mac. I due tentato di derubare il boss e scappare con i soldi, ma sono colti sul fatto. Li Ann fugge ma Mac e' arrestato dalla polizia. In prigione Mac e' ricattato dalla polizia: se rifiuta di collaborare lo rilasceranno e la sua vita sara' priva di valore dato che la mafia vuole la sua testa. Mac e' sconvolto nell'incontrare di nuovo Li Ann, entrata nella stessa organizzazione e che, credendolo morto, sta insieme a Victor. Michael diventa nemico di entrambi: e' un esponente della mafia e insegue Victor per riavere la propria fidanzata.
Face/Off (1997) Sean, a zealous police detective, is obsessed with arresting the evil Castor, who is responsible for the death of his son. Sean is not en easy man to live with, and has alienated the love of both his wife Eve and his daughter. Archer surrounds Castor and his brother at the airport. Castor is wounded fatally and his brother arrested. Archer finds evidence that Castor has prepared a new terrorist act. The only way to find out is to ask Castor's brother. Archer accepts to undergo a delicate surgical operation that gives him the face and the voice of Castor, for the purpose of approaching him in prison. The plan succeeds: Archer learns the location of the bomb. But Sean has "resuscitated" from his coma and has figured out everything. He has forced the surgeon to give him Archer's face and then has killed every person who knew about it. Nobody knows that Archer is a police officer. He has now become for real a dangerous criminal, while Castor can enjoy his job and his family.

If English is your first language and you could translate my old Italian text, please contact me.

Face/Off (1997) e` un film d'azione altamente spettacolare, ma anche con una storia di doppelganger e di scambio di personalita` con risvolti filosofici e psicanalitici.

Sean Archer e` un poliziotto coraggioso, le cui spregiudicate azioni mettono a repentaglio la pace coniugale con la diligente moglie Eve. Per colpa di un pericoloso terrorista, Castor Troy, suo figlio e` morto. L'altra figlia, Jaime, non si e` ripresa dallo shock ed e` diventata una ribelle sfrontata. Durante uno spettacolare inseguimento in elicottero, Sean cattura Castor, che rimane in coma in ospedale. Sean sa che Castor stava progettando un attentato su grande scala e tenta invano di far parlare i suoi complici: il fratello dinamitardo, un trafficante di droga, la sorella di questi e amante di Castor (madre anche di un bambino); ma nessuno collabora. Sean accetta allora un piano demenziale: in un ospedale segretissimo hanno messo a punto una tecnica per rimuovere e sostituire facce, e vogliono provarla su di lui e Castor. Una volta munito della faccia e della voce di Castor, Sean potra` scoprire dove e` progettato l'attentato. Nessuno deve saperne nulla, ne` i colleghi ne` sua moglie. Dopo la chirurgia plastica, il falso Castor viene internato in un carcere di massima sicurezza, dove ritrova sia il fratello sia un arcinemico. Il carcere e` supertecnologico: i detenuti camminano giorno e notte con degli stivali metallici e i pavimenti sono dei campi magnetici. I guardiani sono delle belve di aguzzini. Intanto Castor si risveglia dal come e scopre di essere senza faccia, telefona alla sua gang e in pochi minuti ha ridotto all'impotenza tutto il personale dell'ospedale. Li costringe ad attaccargli la faccia di Sean. Il vero Sean e` appena riuscito a far parlare il fratello di Castor, che gli ha rivelato dove si trova la bomba. E` tutto contento ma proprio in quel momento viene a trovarlo... se stesso! Castor, adesso falso Sean, gli mostra la prima pagina del giornale in cui si parla dell'incendio della clinica: tutti coloro che sapevano del piano sono periti. Castor gli fa capire che restera` prigioniero per il resto della sua vita e che lui, Castor, potra` entrare in casa sua e usare sua moglie a piacimento. Sean gli si avventa contro ma viene immobilizzato dalle guardie e chiuso nella cella di massima sicurezza. Castor va a casa di Sean, prende familiarita` con la casa, la moglie, la figlia. Poi in ufficio con i colleghi. Per prima cosa fa rilasciare il fratello, e Sean lo viene a sapere, sempre piu` disperato. Il piano di Castor diventa quello di diventare un eroe nazionale, e ci riesce facendo "confessare" al fratello dove si trova la bomba. Poi va di persona a disinnescarla e il giorno dopo e` in prima pagina su tutti i giornali della nazione. A casa seduce la moglie (la madre del bambino che lui uccise) con una cenetta romantica come il vero Sean non c'era mai riuscito. Riesce persino a guadagnarsi la simpatia della figlia con i suoi modi di strada. Il vero Sean intanto scopre un modo per evadere. L'unico modo di farsi togliere gli stivali e di essere punito con un elettroshock: scatena pertanto una rissa con i guardiani, viene portato nella camera di tortura, e, non appena, gli tolgono gli stivali, si allea all'arcinemico per sgominare i guardiani. I detenuti massacrano le guardie e Sean riesce a farsi largo fino al tetto, anche se scopre che si tratta di un'isola e un elicottero lo mitraglia. Non ha altra scelta che buttarsi in mare e nuotare fino a riva. Intanto Castor segue la moglie di Sean al cimitero a rendere omaggio alla tomba del figlio, di cui ricorre il compleanno. Il vero Sean sa che andranno in chiesa alla messa e si ripromette di esserci. Castor apprende che Sean e` evaso e non ha dubbi sulle sue intenzioni. Pone quindi il fratello sulle sue tracce. Sean ha rubato un'auto della polizia ed e` riuscito a chiamare la moglie, ma naturalmente lei non gli ha creduto. Sean trova asilo e aiuto dal trafficante di droga. La sorella, Sasha, e` la donna di Castor, e il bambino e` figlio di Castor. Sean si invaghisce del bambino, in cui rivede il suo. Sia il trafficante sia la donna gli offrono il loro aiuto per uccidere l'odiato poliziotto Sean Archer. Castor intanto sta dando una lezione di vita a Jaime, le regala persino un coltellino con cui difendersi dagli stupratori. La polizia attacca l'edificio del trafficante di droga, ma Sean e la donna riescono a sfuggire. Sean sembra piu` interessato a salvare la vita del bambino che la propria. Sean deve uccidere molti poliziotti ma non se la sente di spacciare anche un amico. Castor fa uccidere e uccide molti dei suoi amici, ex complici. A un certo punto Sean e Castor si trovano vicinissimi, separati soltanto da una parete a specchio. Si voltano e sparano entrambi al proprio specchio, cercando di uccidere se stessi. Sean riesce a fuggire sul tetto e uccide il fratello di Castor, che piange sul suo cadavere. Sean ha restituito a Castor la morte di un caro. La vicenda aumenta la popolarita` di Sean il poliziotto invicibile, il che` suscita l'invidia del suo capo. Sean approfitta di un momento favorevole e uccide il capo facendolo sembrare un attacco cardiaco. Il vero Sean riesce intanto a penetrare in casa sua e a parlare alla moglie. Le offre infinite prove della sua vera identita` e alla fine la supplica di fare il test del sangue sull'uomo che ha preso il suo posto. La notte stessa lei si reca in clinica e scopre la verita`. Sean e` li` ad aspettarla, e si prende la responsabilita` dell'accaduto: e` stato lui a prestarsi per un'altra missione pericolosa quando la moglie non voleva. Questa e` la punizione: che l'assassino di loro figlio ha dormito con lei. Poco dopo irrompe anche il falso Sean, svegliatosi sospettoso. La moglie ha gia` messo in salvo Jaime. Sean ritorna dalla donna, che adesso ha giurato vendetta contro Sean Archer per l'uccisione del fratello trafficante. Sean si presenta alla messa per il figlio e rimane solo con Castor nella chiesa. Il duello si complica quando arrivano Eve, subito presa in ostaggio, e poi Sasha. Quest'ultima salsa Sean, puntando la rivoltella contro il falso Sean, senza sapere che questi e` il suo uomo. Tutti si sparano, si scatena l'inferno. SAsha ha salvato la vita al vero Sean e in punto di morte gli chiede di prendersi cura del bambino ed evitare che diventi anche lui un gangster. Alla fine Sean e Castor, ancora vivi, riprendono a picchiarsi. Arriva Jaime, che pensa bene di prendere le difese di quello che crede suo padre e spara a quello che crede il terrorista, ma capisce subito che le cose stanno diversamente perche' suo padre la prende ostaggio. Si libera della sua stretta usando il coltellino che proprio questi le aveva regalato. Il vero Sean, ferito, non si da` per vinto e l'inseguimento riprende, sempre piu` spettacolare, su due motoscafi lanciati a folle velocita` nel porto. Dopo esplosioni di navi ed essersi schiantati contro un molo, i due riprendono a picchiarsi con ferocia, esausti, ma propulsi da un odio mortale. Quando alla fine Sean arpiona a morte Castor, questi si toglie la soddisfazione di tagliarsi la faccia a pezzi, per impedire a Sean di riprendersela: per tutta la vita Sean vedra` Castor ogni volta che si guardera` allo specchio. Sean lo lascia agonizzante contro lo steccato. Il lieto fine d'obbligo ribalta tutto: la chirurgia riesce e Sean riacquista la sua faccia, poi a casa porta il bambino adottato (figlio dell'uomo che ha ucciso suo figlio) e naturalmente la figlia e` ridiventata un'adolescente modello.

Blackjack (1998) is another lame television movie.

Jack, a former police detective who now works as a body guard, gets involved in the case of a child whose father was killed by the Russian mafia. In a shootout Jack is temporarily blinded and become paranoid about the white color. A friend of Jack from the police asks him to help protect a supermodel, Cinder from a maniac. A pretty psychologist helps Jack heal from his paranoia, Casey helps Jack guard against the maniac, but the model is hiding a mystery or two.
(Translation by Laura Tittarelli)

Blackjack (1998) e' un altro film per la televisione dal risultato fiacco.

Jack e' un ex investigatore di polizia che lavora come guardia del corpo. Rimane coinvolto nel caso di una bambina orfana di padre a causa della mafia russa. In una sparatoria Jack perde temporaneamente la vista e diventa fobico del colore bianco. Un suo amico, ed ex collega della polizia, gli chiede di aiutarlo a proteggere una top model, Cinder, da un maniaco. Nel frattempo una affascinante psicologa aiuta Jack a guarire dalla sua fobia e Casey gli da' una mano nel suo compito contro il maniaco, mentre la modella nasconde a tutti un paio di segreti.

Woo directed the sequel Mission Impossible 2 (2000) to Brian DePalma's Mission Impossible (1996) and a mediocre World War II film, Windtalkers (2002). After the sci-fi movie Paycheck (2003), based on a Philip Dick story, he architected the historical drama Red Cliff: Part I (2008) and Red Cliff: Part II (2009), in total a 5-hour epic (shrunk in the USA to a 140-minute movie). The success of these films led him to continue in the genre of historical epics with Reign of Assassins (2010) and another two-part epic, The Crossing (2014) and The Crossing 2 (2015).

Manhunt (2017) is a remake of Ken Takakura's 1976 movie.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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