Outstanding director John Woo returns to Hollywood with the new drama Silent Night. Exclusive interview
On November 30, Hong Kong director John Woo will release his first American film in twenty years. It's a Christmas drama about revenge called "Silent Night". It has no dialogue.
OBOZ.UA got an exclusive opportunity to talk to John Woo. The Hong Kong director recalled his first steps in American cinema, admitted why he didn't get the work he dreamed of, and also told us what emotions he experienced when he read the script for Silent Night.
Despite the long hiatus, John Woo's contribution to cinema can be found everywhere: from Marvel movies to the John Wick franchise. The artist first gained fame in the 80s, directing a number of classic Hong Kong action films: "A Better Tomorrow" (1986), "The Killer" (1989) and "Hard Boiled" (1992), all three of which star Chow Yun-fat.
Ukrainian and international audiences are familiar with John Woo from his Hollywood superhits: the 1997 Nicolas Cage and John Travolta body-swap action film Face/Off and Mission: Impossible 2 (2000). In 2002, the Times magazine called Woo "perhaps the most influential director making films today." However, the following year, his thriller Paycheck, starring Hollywood superstars Ben Affleck and Uma Thurman, turned into a financial disaster. After this failure, the director returned home, where he made a number of box office hits.
Silent Night is the official return of the classic to international cinema. In the film, a young father (played by Joel Kinnaman) witnesses a tragedy in which his young son dies when he is caught in a gang's crossfire on Christmas Eve. Recovering from an injury that leaves him unable to speak, the father decides to avenge his son's death. Exactly one year later, the Christmas "silent night" will become surprisingly loud.
The film is a new take on the action genre and is different from anything else currently on the screen. The lead role in the brutal film is played by superstar actor Joel Kinnaman (Suicide Squad, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, RoboCop, The Killing, Altered Carbon, House of Cards). The film was produced by Ukrainian-born Hollywood producer Bezil Ivanek, responsible for the commercial and critical success of such franchises as John Wick, The Expendables and Sicario.
- We are very excited to have this opportunity to talk to you. You've blown up Hollywood again! In this context, I'd like to go back in time and recall your first international success. You became extremely successful in your native Hong Kong, but why did you decide to conquer the United States?
- I never dreamed of coming to Hollywood. I wanted to do my own thing and continue filming in Hong Kong, but there wasn't much good material there. Besides, there was no market for the kind of films I wanted to make. Meanwhile, my movie The Killer attracted an incredible amount of attention in the West, even though I didn't know it at first. Quite unexpectedly, I received about fifty scripts from Hollywood studios and independent companies such as Twentieth Century Fox and New Line Cinema. However, I was not interested in them because most of them were just action movies. I came to Hollywood to make an American movie in my own way with different elements in one picture.
- Your real first international success was the movie "Face/Off", which is called iconic now. It's quite an atypical work for the US, a movie that is timeless.
- "Face/Off" was originally a science fiction movie, but I removed about ninety to ninety-five percent of the planned visual effects. I also wanted more dramatic emphasis. The original story idea was pretty simple: the good guy trades identities with the bad guy to bring down his criminal organization and save the world. I changed the story so that the good guy also saves his own son. At first, some executives at the studio were a little worried. They weren't sure that action movie fans would accept such a movie because they wanted to see an action movie, not a drama. But we held a test screening, and people liked it.
You know, there were a lot of good scripts that I wanted to make, but they never came to me. Hollywood producers didn't offer them because they thought I wasn't American and that I didn't understand their way of life. All I could do, according to these people, was make action movies. I can make different kinds of movies, but it's hard for people to believe that. It's still hard for me to find financing for the movies I want to make, like a musical or a western. Maybe my next movie will be a western.
- What about superhero movies?
- I've never liked watching movies with big special effects or something based on comic books. I prefer Martin Scorsese's films, that kind of movie. I was happy to see "Killers of the Flower Moon". It was a real movie. There are not many such movies lately.
- What motivated you to make "Silent Night"?
- I was so excited when I got the script. There is no dialogue in the whole movie! I thought it would be very useful for me because it would allow me to use my abilities to tell a story visually. It turned out to be a Hollywood production. But I don't feel like I'm returning to Hollywood because I never left it. I just made a few movies in China over the last two decades.
- Thank you for the conversation! What would you like to wish the audience in Ukraine?
- I am very happy to work and make movies that can be seen all over the world! I am honored that our film can be seen by Ukrainians as well. I wish you strength and inspiration.
The movie "Silent Night" will be released in all theaters of the country on November 30.
Read an interview with Hollywood actor Joel Kinnaman about filming the action movie "Silent Night", in which no one will say a word, on OBOZ.UA.