John Woo

Once hailed by action star Jean-Claude Van Damme as "the Martin Scorsese of Asia," John Woo was a legendary action director in the Hong Kong film industry long before immigrating to Hollywood to direct his first American film, "Hard Target" (1993). Reportedly the first Asian to direct a major Hollywood studio film, Woo made his name with action-packed, emotionally florid thrillers like "A Better Tomorrow" (1986), "The Killer" (1989), "A Bullet in the Head" (1990) and "Hard-Boiled" (1992). Enthusiastically embraced by English-speaking critics, Woo was a bold visual stylist who learned his meticulous choreography of movement, graceful camera moves and over-the-top violence from the likes of Sergio Leone, Sam Peckinpah and Jean-Pierre Melville. Though soaked in blood, his films were marked by old-fashioned morality and chastely gallant attitudes toward women, while, even among villains, valuing friendship and loyalty. Woo remained an influential figure among a new generation of filmmakers like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, who eagerly adopted his signature moves.