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D I R E C T O R ' H OLLYWOOD — Director/writer/ producer John Woo was born in Guangzhou, China, and moved to Hong Kong with his family when he was four years old. At age 19 he began making experimental films and then spent over two decades in Hong Kong at the center of a thriving film industry, directing more than 26 feature films and creating a series of inspired romantic and violent gangster dramas that broke box office records. Fast forward quar ter of a centur y and Woo's still breaking box office records; his latest film, Red Cliff, was released as a marathon five-hour, two-par ter in Asian markets (par t one opened in July '08, par t two in January this year), and when the first par t was released it went on to gross over $124 million US and broke the box office record previously held by Titanic in mainland China. Star ting this month, a radically shor t- ened two-and-a-half hour version is being released in American markets. But when the action-meister star ted work on Red Cliff, he was understandably both excited and a little ner vous. On the one hand, the war epic, which reunites Woo with action star Tony Leung for the first time since the 1992 classic Hard Boiled, seemed tailor-made for Woo. After all, the acclaimed Chinese director of such action films as Mission: Impossible II, Broken Arrow, Face/Off and The Killer, has built a reputation for exper tly handling elabo- rately-choreographed stunts and over-the- top action sequences. But the project, set in ancient China some 1,800 years ago, also presented enormous aesthetic and logistical challenges to Woo and his team, which in- cluded his longtime producer Terence Chang, and DP Lu Yue, shooting Woo's first feature film in mainland China. Here, the director talks about making Red Cliff, his love of post, and the emergence of China as a filmmaking powerhouse. POST: What sort of film did you set out to make? JOHN WOO: "The story is a very famous one, not just in China but throughout Asia, and basi- cally I wanted to make an epic. I always wanted to make a film like Lawrence of Arabia or Stanley Kubrick's Samurai. So try it, and even compared Arabia, I'm And I wanted make an epic of a Hollywood POST: What pulling it together? WOO: "Even expensive China, it was ing. We got Japan, and Taiwan, Hong Asia love movies of confidence n't a problem. was very hard the end and "The film are so many ters in it. Also, more appealing All Asians and par t of characters. know about to make it ern audiences, and feel excited. John Woo — Red By IAIN BLAIR This veteran director's latest is a film of epic proportions. John Woo, while film is going 10 Post • November 2009

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