20 Facts About Classic Hong Kong Action Movies (To Dual-Wield In Slo-Mo)

20 Facts About Classic Hong Kong Action Movies (To Dual-Wield In Slo-Mo)

Under the big umbrella of the action genre, Hong Kong action movies are a breed of its own. Yet even this label is wide, as it includes everything from wuxia movies to John Woo flicks. In this Pictofacts, we focus on the latter, or more precisely on the ultra-violent, emotionally-corny, high-octane action movies Hong Kong produced during the ‘80s and ‘90s. Yeah, because nothing says action like semantic distinctions. Seriously, though, if we’re being accurate with our language – and we here at Cracked take language very seriously – then we’re not discussing martial arts movies in what follows.

So we’re focusing on strictly action movies, and hence on the actor-endangering madman that is John Woo, a man whose name is synonymous with the genre. Now, our John Woo is a bit rusty, so just as we won’t be discussing martial arts movies, we won’t be discussing Woo’s post-Mission: Impossible 2 Chinese movies either. Honestly, we hope they’re good just because we just love the guy. And even if they’re not, the fact remains that during the ’80s and ’90s Hong Kong action movies were greatly influenced by him. As we celebrate the man’s silent return to Hollywood (and we hope for a Face-Off-centered John Woo biopic), we now discuss some facts about his movies, but also about other aspects of classic Hong Kong action cinema.


CRACKED.COM E HONG KONG ACTION MOVIES THE FORGOTTEN ANCESTORS While they lack John Woo's later, unique flair, the genre's predecessors are mainly 1984's Long Arm of the Law and 1979's The Brothers. In particular, this latter flick directly inspired Woo's A Better Tomorrow.

Source: Wikipedia

Sam Peckinpah

CRACKED.COM HONG KONG ACTION MOVIES THE AMERICAN INFLUENCE John Woo's style had an American inspiration: director Sam Peckinpah, responsible for classics like Straw Dogs, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, and The Getaway. Just take a look at the action scenes in The Wild Bunch to see where Woo was drawing from.

Source: The Rake

Tsui Hark

CRACKED.COM HONG KONG ACTION MOVIES TSUI HARK Another legendary name of the Hong Kong '80s action scene, Hark's been behind movies like Aces Go Places, A Better Tomorrow III, Once Upon a Time in China, and Iron Monkey, plus a bunch of classic John Woo flicks.

Source: Wikipedia

'A Better Tomorrow' Prequels

CRACKED.COM HONG KONG ACTION MOVIES A TALE OF TWO PREQUELS John Woo and producer Tsui Hark had a falling out after A Better Tomorrow and its sequel, so each made their own prequel. Hark did the official one, while Woo made the surprisingly similar but superior Bullet in the Head.

Source: Wikipedia

John Woo and Jackie Chan

CRACKED.COM HONG KONG ACTION MOVIES JOHN WOO AND JACKIE CHAN Before his action films, John Woo's first works were romance dramas and martial arts movies - like 1976's Hand of Death, with a very young Jackie Chan. It's a crime these two never did a big budget movie together.

Source: Wikipedia

Jackie Chan's 'The Protector'

CRACKED.COM HONG KONG ACTION MOVIES THE PROTECTOR This 1985 movie was Jackie Chan's second (failed) attempt at entering the American market, and it was indeed a serious action movie close to the heroic bloodshed pieces back home. Chan really disliked it, and ended up re-editing it himself for Hong Kong.

Source: Wikipedia

Chow-yun Fat

CRACKED.COM HONG KONG ACTION MOVIES THE STAR Chow Yun-fat wasn't just in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and, uh, Dragonball: Evolution. The dude was in five John Woo movies, and a whole bunch of other Hong Kong and Chinese hits from the last three decades.

Source: Wikipedia

John Woo's Improvisation

CRACKED.COM HONG KONG ACTION MOVIES IMPROVISING MAYHEM Like a good jazz fan, John Woo loves improvisation - astonishing, considering his visions of chaos. In his 1989 classic The Killer, Woo would not even use storyboards, but rather follow his mood and intuition.

Source: Wikipedia

Baby Poisoning in 'Hard Boiled'

HONG KONG ACTION MOVIES BABY POISONING The villain for John Woo's 1992 Hard Boiled was supposed to be a baby-poisoning psychopath, but investors hated the idea, particularly in the U.S. Production was halted while the script was rewritten. CRACKED.COM

Source: Wikipedia


HONG KONG ACTION MOVIES JOHN WOO'S CAMEO IN HARD BOILED Chow Yun-fat thought his good guy character was less defined than the anti-hero counterpart (played by Shang-Chi's Tony Leung). So Chow asked Woo to add a mentor to the story and play the character himself (so he wouldn't want to cut those scenes). CRACKED.COM

Source: Wikipedia


CRACKED.COM HONG KONG ACTION MOVIES ALL THAT JAZZ For Lethal Weapon fans, jazz in our '80s action movie makes total sense. But the genre wasn't popular in Hong Kong, so John Woo (himself a fan) broke new ground by giving Hard Boiled a jazz soundtrack, written by the Rhodesian-born composer Michael Gibbs.

Source: Wikipedia

'Hard Boiled' and 'Terminator 2'

HONG KONG ACTION MOVIES GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE If there's one movie that compares to Hard Boiled, that's Terminator 2 - even in the fact that both use boxes of flowers to hide guns. That might be a reference to Stanley Kubrick's The Killing - and yet, John Woo and James Cameron did it just one year apart. CRACKED.COM

Source: IMDb

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