A Singular Director

I would agree with Dacy up to a point, that it’s the star performances that make Hong Kong films popular. But who creates many of those star performances?

Until he was cast in a John Woo film, Chow Yun-Fat’s “undeniable personal charisma” didn’t find much of an audience. Woo’s ability to bring out the best in actors and to give them a previously unimaginable weight and depth has in the past revived the failing career of Ti Lung, made a serious actor of pop star Leslie Cheung and made Chow Yun-Fat a mega-star in Asia. Many other actors, including Tony Leung, Jacky Cheung, Simon Yam and Danny Lee, have delivered the best performances of their respective careers in John Woo films.

Dacy delivers a backhanded insult to Woo by contending that no Hong Kong directors direct any films in their entirety. Having been present on the set in Hong Kong on more than one occasion when Woo was directing, I can testify that no one but Woo directs his films. He doesn’t even use a second unit, let alone take advice from, collaborate with or co-direct with any other first-unit directors. That’s one reason he’s so legendary.

After observing him on the set of “Hard Target” in New Orleans for a few days, it was obvious that he was not only in total command, but was accorded a degree of respect, and even awe, by his American crew that I will venture to say is exceedingly rare in this industry.



Director, the Film Center Art Institute of Chicago