John Woo says working with Chow Yun-fat again would take the right project

chow yup fat John woo

One of the great director-actor pairings in Asian cinema history, that of John Woo and Chow Yun-fat, may be over partly due to age.

When we think of the great director-actor pairings throughout Asian cinema history, at the top is Kurosawa and Mifune. But we can’t forget Kenji Mizoguchi and Kinuyo Tanaka (seriously, add Ugetsu to your must-watch list) or Wong Kar-wai and Tony Leung. But for many of us, we were straight up introduced to international action movies through the teamings of John Woo and Chow Yun-fat, chiefly The Killer and Hard Boiled. But the pair hasn’t worked together in more than 30 years – unfortunately, that may have been the last time.


Despite their place as one of the best director-actor duos in all of action, we only ever got five movies directed by John Woo and starring Chow Yun-fat, two of the most recognizable figures of Hong Kong cinema. As the 77-year-old Woo recently told HK01 (via Yahoo!), “We are getting older and it would be hard to find the right script…[But] I still want to be like Clint Eastwood and make movies that bring the protagonist back to his former glory.”

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John Woo also remembered first working with Chow Yun-fat on 1985’s A Better Tomorrow. “When we were doing A Better Tomorrow, Chow had failed. For three years, everyone made fun of him and the movies he starred in were all flops. I was also in the same situation and was made fun of, so he felt that the dialogue I created seemed to be coming from the bottom of his heart.” A couple of years later came its sequel before they broke ground with 1989’s The Killer, still one of the best action movies ever made (and also apparently “due” for a remake). But my personal favorite not just of their collaborations but in the entire genre is 1992’s Hard Boiled – come on, that hospital sequence just can’t be topped!

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That we haven’t gotten another John Woo and Chow Yun-fat movie since is unfortunate. The closest we’ve gotten was the tease of the actor being attached to star in Woo’s epic 2008-2009 two-parter Red Cliff. Reasons for his departure – and replacement by Tony Leung – range from not having enough preparation over script changes to problems with his contract.

What do you think? Would it be too late for another movie with John Woo and Chow Yun-fat? Which is your favorite movie of theirs? Let us know below!