John Woo on ‘Silent Night,’ Not Retiring From Making Movies newsbhunt


If a picture is worth a thousand words, then John Woo‘s wordless action movie “Silent Night” is worth at least a thousand gunshots.

Woo returns to Hollywood for the first time since 2003 to quietly deliver “Silent Night,” a blood-soaked, Christmas-themed revenge tale with zero spoken dialogue. It employs the same style of fast-paced, R-rated gun-toting that has become all the rage with action movies nowadays a la the “John Wick,” “Kingsman” and “Extraction” series. But those movies, and many others, can trace their origins back to many of Woo’s older films, like “A Better Tomorrow,” “Hard Boiled” and “Broken Arrow.” Woo’s “bullet ballet” sequences, flashy kills and shootouts with guns, fists, knives and everything in between have paved the way and inspired many modern blockbusters since he started out in Hong Kong.

With “Silent Night,” Woo lets the guns do the talking. Joel Kinnaman stars as a father who loses his young son during a random gang shooting and suffers a devastating injury to this throat, rendering him unable to speak. He sets out on a path of revenge, silently training and preparing himself to take down the gang exactly one year after his son’s death — which happens to be on Christmas Eve.

As a holiday film, “Silent Night” enters the Christmas canon alongside other action movies like “Die Hard” and last year’s “Violent Night.” But Woo is hesitant to call it a straight Christmas movie. With Variety, he also discusses how his style of gun-fu action scenes have spread to other films and why he has no plans to retire anytime soon at 77 years old.

How did you get involved with this crazy Christmas action movie with no spoken dialogue?

When I got the script, I was so excited. What I was excited about was the whole script had no dialogue. It was very challenging. The challenge was using a new technique and visuals to tell the story so the audience could simply understand it and be moved by the story and the performance without missing something. This movie was my experiment. This is my first independent film in Hollywood. I really feel the freedom. I just made my own film, just like the old times when I was making films in Hong Kong.

Was making the film harder than you originally thought it’d be?

Fortunately, I have a very good team. They are very helpful and all tried their best to help me. We didn’t have the luxury of time and money. So we had to make the movie very smartly. I didn’t waste time. I figured out how to combine everything into one shot or even one long take to tell the story. It was forcing me to change, but I really love to change. It makes me feel original.

Did anyone ever slip up and say something out loud while you were shooting?

No, no talking. The general thing with no dialogue was to allow the actor to keep their real performance and express themselves strictly from their eyes, so their eyes tell more of the story, especially with a good actor like Joel Kinnaman and Catalina Sandino Moreno. They all delivered a real performance and it was really touching.

People debate whether “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie or just an action movie. How do you classify “Silent Night”?

Well, in a good drama, it doesn’t matter if it’s an action movie or not. The movie is about love, the love of a father and son.

Gun-fu has really taken off, especially with the “John Wick” movies. Have you seen any action movies with gun-fu that have really impressed you?

Oh yeah, I like “John Wick.” They have a very special style and tone, pretty much like a really colorful comic book. I enjoy the action and the character of Keanu Reeves. It’s fun to watch. To be honest, I haven’t watched much of a movie, I haven’t watched any of the Marvel comic book movies. I only watch old, classic movies every year, like “Lawrence of Arabia,” “2001,” “Seven Samurai.”

How does it feel to see your style of action and gunplay spread to so many movies?

I feel like I have so many friends. In my time, I have learned so much from the West. I got a big influence from the American movies, like from Martin Scorsese and Stanley Kubrick, and French directors. I have learned so much from the West and I combined it into my own style. Now I see a lot of young filmmakers share with me and it’s a good thing. We are all in a big family and all learning from each other. We are inspired by each other and gain a lot of friendship from all over the world.

Scorsese recently said he plans to make a couple more movies before retiring. He’s a few years older than you, but have you thought about how many more films you want to make?

Yeah, I will keep making movies as long as I am still alive. My next film project is based on a true story about an early Chinese immigrant working for a rich man as a slave. And then later they have built a pretty good relationship and friendship. Another project I want to make is a Western. I’ve dreamed about doing a Western for a long, long time since I’ve seen so many Westerns and grown up with them. I’m really excited about it. I already got a good script.



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