- reviews - features - people - panasia - blogs - about site - contact - links - forum -
Site Features
- Asian Film Awards
- Site Recommendations

- Reader Poll Results

- The FAQ Page
support this site by shopping at
Click to visit
Musings from the Edge of Forever

Note: This blog expresses only the opinions of the blog owner,
and does not represent the opinion of any organization or blog
that is associated with RONIN ON EMPTY.

Archive for the ‘John Woo’ Category

THE KILLER 2011 in 3-D and Smell-O-Vision!


“Jung Woo-Sung, huh? I’m holding out for Colin Firth.”

While composing a review for the surprisingly good remake of The Karate Kid yesterday, I happened upon the news that John Woo’s The Killer is also being remade — in 3D, no less. A Moment to Remember’s John H. Lee will direct and Korean star Jung Woo-Sung will headline the film. John Woo himself has apparently given the project his blessing, as he, along with his partner Terence Chang, will be serving as a producer on this 3D, Los Angeles-set re-imagining of his 1987 classic. How involved he’ll actually be remains unclear.

Personally, I like Badass Digest writer, Devin Faraci’s idea that Woo is basically taking a John Carpenter-style approach to the remake, as the legendary horror director (Halloween, The Thing, They Live) served as a producer on the updates of The Fog and Assault on Precinct 13, but really didn’t have anything to do with the creative process. If I remember Carpenter’s words correctly, he had no problem with remakes, “as long as the check clears.”

As some of you will remember, there was an earlier remake of The Killer planned by Walter Will in 1992, set to star Richard Gere and Denzel Washington in the Chow Yun-Fat and Danny Lee roles. According to Christopher Heard, however, some American producers balked at the seeming homoeroticism between the two male leads. Homophobia, it seems, derailed plans for the 1992 version. That was almost twenty years ago. God, I feel old.

Anyway, what do you think of the prospect of a Killer remake? Are you excited about its potential? Angered at the heresy? Resigned to the fact that every movie you ever loved will be remade in 3-D? Whatever your take, you can read the full press release under the cut.


Return to a Better Yesterday

A Better Tomorrow III

Certifiable Badass

A Better Tomorrow III: Love and Death in Saigon isn’t a bad film, but as a true prequel to the first two ABT films, I have to admit it’s a little disappointing. Sure, the “origin story” explaining Mark’s penchant for trenchcoats, sunglasses, and explosive gunplay is pretty interesting, considering that Tsui Hark locates these aspects of the character in an unexpected romantic context. And yeah, Chow Yun-Fat, Anita Mui, and Tony Leung Ka-Fei deliver fine performances. Heck, there’s even some truly poignant moments between Mark (Chow) and Kit (Mui), but overall, the movie seems kind of…well…pointless.


Random Movie Quotation of the Week: JCVD


The “Muscles from Brussels” delivers a bravura performance in JCVD, a genre-bending 2008 film from French Algerian director Mabrouk El Mechri. Now I realize that me saying that the film boasts Jean Claude Van Damme’s finest acting turn may sound like sarcasm or faint praise when talking about the man who rose to fame in films like Bloodsport, Kickboxer, and Cyborg, but, it’s not meant to be thinly-veiled diss at all.

This movie was a brave and smart choice for Van Damme to make; let’s just hope he can follow it up with something that’s equally as interesting. Otherwise, his “comeback” will be short-lived indeed. If not, there’s always this to remember him by:


Great Moments in Hong Kong Cinema #2: The Final Gun Battle in A BETTER TOMORROW 2


Periodically, Ronin on Empty will be taking a look back at some Hong Kong cinema classics, albeit with a specific emphasis on “Great Moments” — i.e. classic scenes that no Hong Kong cinema fan (old or new) should miss. Of course, “classic” will not only entail super-cool, gobsmacking moments, but also the downright ridiculous stuff, too. The numbers — #1, #2, etc. — are not indicators of ranking, but merely a way to keep a running tally of how many “great moments” we can list here. Readers are welcome to send in their own fave scenes as well.

A Better Tomorrow 2 is not exactly a great film. Aside from Chow Yun-Fat’s “EAT THE RICE!” scene (itself a candidate for a “Great Moment” retrospective), there’s not many memorable moments in the film’s first half. For the most part, A Better Tomorrow 2 seems like a dud, as it doesn’t quite live up to the dizzying heights of its illustrious predecessor. But thankfully, that initial disappointment evaporates the moment the film enters the climax. Almost immediately, director John Woo and producer Tsui Hark are pretty much forgiven for what came before.


Great Moments in Hong Kong Cinema #1 — Mark Gor Gets Revenge in A BETTER TOMORROW

 ABT 01

Chow Yun-Fat in John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow (1984)

Periodically, Ronin on Empty will be taking a look back at some Hong Kong cinema classics, albeit with a specific emphasis on “Great Moments” — i.e. classic scenes that no Hong Kong cinema fan (old or new) should miss. Of course, “classic” will not only entail super-cool, gobsmacking moments, but also the downright ridiculous stuff, too.

The May 6th episode of the NBC comedy Community  featured a dead-on parody of some of John Woo’s films (particularly those featuring Chow Yun-Fat), which got me to thinking about some of the best scenes from Woo’s filmography. For the first installment of “Great Moments in Hong Kong Cinema,” I chose a stylish action scene from John Woo’s 1984 classic, A Better Tomorrow. The sequence, partially an homage to Martin Scorcese’s Mean Streets, features a dashing gangster named Mark (Chow Yun-Fat) getting a little payback for his friend, Ho (Ti Lung). What’s so “great” about it? Well, you’ll just have to watch for yourself.


John Woo’s Asian America


Woo Vogue

“For a long time I’ve wanted to make a film about the building of the railroad in the United States — it would be about the Chinese and the Irish, who built the railroads, their conflicts and how they learned to become friends.”

– John Woo in Out of the Shadows

The unnamed movie in the above quotation has been alternatively titled Land of Destiny and The Divide at different points in its production. What little about the film that I can glean from the internet suggests that this would have been Woo’s next film after Windtalkers before it eventually descended into development hell as Woo decided to take on other projects and more sizeable paychecks.

In as recent as this interview with Time Magazine, Woo says that he would still work with Chow Yun-Fat, even after the debacle that resulted from Chow’s casting in Red Cliff, and cited this in-development film as evidence of their continued friendship.

As far as I can tell, the setting will be California and involve the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. Chow Yun-Fat would play the Chinese protagonist, while the part of the Irish worker was initially rumored to be played by Nicolas Cage, although Hugh Jackman’s name has been mentioned as well.


Heroic Paintshed

I just had to interrupt my self-imposed hiatus to call attention to the most recent and rather brilliant episode of Community. For those of you unfamiliar with this NBC comedy, the premise involves a lawyer named Jeff Winger (The Soup’s Joel McHale) who is forced to attend community college when questions arise about the validity of his undergraduate degree. At Greendale Community College, he befriends a ragtag group of students, played by an wonderful ensemble cast that includes Chevy Chase, Gillian Jacobs, Donald Glover, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Allison Brie.

At this point, you may be wondering just what the heck any of this has to do with Hong Kong cinema, but I think if you take a good look at the image and the video I’ve embedded below, you’ll know immediately why the episode in question is relevant to a site called

Senor Chang

(more…) Copyright © 2002-2023 Ross Chen