John Woo on a new mission: boosting Chinese films

Tue Jun 9, 2009 9:31am EDT
 
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By Belinda Goldsmith

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Hollywood film director John Woo has returned to his roots to bring a traditional Chinese story to the big screen, and hopes this will garner new interest for Chinese films globally.

Woo, well known for his choreographed action movies such as "Mission: Impossible II," said "Red Cliff" aims to convince young Chinese that movies don't need a Hollywood stamp to be good and to prove the merits of Chinese films to Western audiences.

"Red Cliff," the most expensive Asian-financed movie made with a $80 million budget, is about the ancient Chinese battle of that name. It is Woo's first Chinese-language film since the 1992 thriller "Hard-Boiled" and his first U.S. release in six years.

Woo said the scale of the movie made it an epic with action and romance akin to "Troy," "Gladiator" or even "Lawrence of Arabia" that should appeal to an international audience.

"I wanted to prove that in China we have the ability and the talent to make big movies like Hollywood but adding something that's never been seen before," Woo told Reuters on the sidelines of the 56th Sydney Film Festival where "Red Cliff" is showing.

"I wanted to make a movie that would appeal to people all over the world, that would bring people together because even though we come from different cultures, we have a lot in common."

Woo, 63, who has directed over 26 films, is well known for his Hollywood movies such as "Face/Off" and "Broken Arrow." He is renowned in Asia for gangster dramas and action movies including "The Killer" and "A Better Tomorrow."

But Woo said he has struggled over the years to unite his two audiences, so with "Red Cliff" he set out to make a movie that rose above cultural and historical barriers.   Continued...

 
<p>Chinese film director John Woo pauses during an interview in Sydney on the day of the Australian premiere of his new film "Red Cliff" June 9, 2009. Woo has returned to his roots to bring a traditional Chinese story to the big screen, and hopes this will garner new interest for Chinese films globally. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne</p>