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JOHN WOO's (Director) illustrious career as a filmmaker began in Hong Kong, where he spent over two decades at the center of a thriving film industry directing nearly 30 feature films. He was known primarily as a comedy specialist until the mid-1980s when he created a series of inspired romantic and violent gangster dramas that broke box-office records.
Woo was born in Guangzhou, China, in 1946, and moved to Hong Kong with his family at age 4. He was educated at Matteo Ricci College and, at age
19, began making experimental films. In lieu of film school, Woo sought entry-level positions in the flourishing Hong Kong film industry.
In l971 he began working as an assistant director at Shaw Brothers. Just two years later he made his directorial debut with "The Young Dragons." He was then signed to an exclusive contract at Golden Harvest. Two more successful martial arts pictures followed, "The Dragon Tamers" and "The Hand Of Death," the latter featuring action superstar Jackie Chan in his first major screen role.
Woo found equal success with a Cantonese opera film, "Princess Chang Ping," but first became a major force in Asian filmmaking with a
string of eight hit comedies, including "Money Crazy" and "From Riches to Rags."
Woo left Golden Harvest in 1983 and joined a new company, Cinema City, where he directed the romantic gangster film "A Better Tomorrow," starring Chow Yun-Fat. Woo's lush crime thrillers with Chow -- which also include the brilliantly choreographed character-driven action film "The Killer" and Woo's last Hong Kong-produced film "Hard Boiled" -- won enthusiastic fans among moviegoers and moviemakers alike around the world. Woo also directed the Vietnam War-set "Bullet in the Head," the comedy action caper "Once a Thief" and "A Better Tomorrow
Woo made his U.S. feature film debut with "Hard Target," starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. In 1994 he formed WCG Entertainment with his producing partner, Terence Chang. Under this banner, Woo had his first Hollywood hit, "Broken Arrow," starring John Travolta and Christian Slater. His third Hollywood film, "Face/Off," starring John Travolta and Nicolas Cage, broke box-office records for the Hong Kong director and was praised by critics worldwide.
Woo kept busy between his feature films directing pilots for television including "Once a Thief," an adaptation of his feature film, and "Blackjack," starring Dolph Lundgren. In 1998 Woo directed his first commercial, a Nike spot featuring seven Brazilian soccer stars. His next feature will be produced by his new company formed with partner Terence Chang: Lion Rock Productions.
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