DVD Release DateJohn Woo explains absence of 4K releases for his pre-Hollywood action films

John Woo explains absence of 4K releases for his pre-Hollywood action films

  • John Woo’s groundbreaking Hong Kong films like Hard Boiled and The Killer remain unavailable in high-definition formats.
  • Complex licensing issues hinder the 4K release of these films.
  • Despite limited accessibility, Woo’s early films continue to impact and shape modern action cinema.

Renowned director John Woo has greatly impacted the action cinema genre with his innovative early works in Hong Kong cinema, such as Hard Boiled, The Killer, and A Better Tomorrow. Unfortunately, these films are not readily available in modern high-definition formats, unlike Woo’s later Hollywood blockbusters, including Face/Off and Mission: Impossible 2.

In a recent interview with Collider, Woo discussed the difficulties associated with releasing his early classics in 4K format due to intricate licensing issues. These complications demonstrate the common struggle in the film industry where rights ownership can significantly affect the availability and legacy of a movie. Regarding the issue, Woo expressed his disappointment:

“I don’t think so because I don’t own the rights. The production company has sold everything to another company. I tried to do it, but I couldn’t because I don’t own it.”

Woo’s groundbreaking work in Hong Kong cinema not only transformed the action genre but also led to his prominence in Hollywood. His distinctive style, featuring elements such as “gun-fu” and slow-motion shootouts, has left a lasting imprint on action filmmaking. The possibility of viewing films like The Killer in 4K remains a tantalizing yet remote dream for movie enthusiasts.

Currently, Woo is working on Silent Night, an experimental film starring Joel Kinnaman, which explores a vengeful father’s journey after his son falls victim to gang violence. The film’s unique dialogue-free narrative and anticipated release on December 1 promise to be an exciting addition to Woo’s impressive career.

Woo is also returning to his roots with an English remake of The Killer, starring Nathalie Emmanuel and Omar Sy, which is expected to premiere on Peacock. This project demonstrates Woo’s ongoing influence and ability to adapt his classic works for new audiences.

Although lovers of Woo’s early Hong Kong films may be disheartened by their limited availability in 4K, it is important to appreciate the films’ existing formats. Physical DVDs and digital releases provide a glimpse into the era of cinema that shaped today’s action films. Despite distribution challenges, these movies continue to captivate and inspire viewers with their innovative storytelling and visual artistry.

John Woo’s lasting impact on cinema attests to the enduring power of innovative filmmaking. While the availability of his early classics in modern formats remains uncertain, his contributions to the action genre are undeniable. His ongoing exploration of new projects, such as Silent Night and the remake of The Killer, ensures that his influence in cinema remains substantial and significant.