John Woo returns? Blood Brothers Opens!

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Blood Brothers, a film starring two of my favorites, Daniel Wu and Hsu Chi, opens tomorrow in Hong Kong cinemas. The film is produced by John Woo, which marks his first return to Hong Kong / Chinese cinema in a long, long time (fifteen years?) Blood Brothers is a period piece gangster picture set in Shanghai during the decadent 1930’s. But if Woo is the producer, who’s the director?

The film is directed by Alexi Tan, who has an international pedigree having been brought up in the Philippines, but educated in London and New York. I’ve read that his short film caught the attention of Terence Chang and John Woo, who later helped him create Blood Brothers, his first feature film. Tan has a background as a fashion photographer, which should make the scenes of old Shanghai all the more sumptuous.

It’s cool to see someone from outside of Hong Kong be able to put something like Blood Brothers together. I think the industry suffers from a lack of new ideas and viewpoints, and it’s exciting to see an outsider be able to create a film with such high caliber talent. If the movie is a success it may set an important precedent. The fact that the director doesn’t read and write Chinese is significant. Alexi Tan worked with a Chinese writer to adapt the script that was originally written in English.

The Hong Kong film industry has sought outside talent in the past, notably in some of the Shaw films of the 60’s and 70’s.

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If you look closely at the Hong Kong version of the Blood Brothers poster, you’ll see an homage to John Woo. The very bottom features two men with guns drawn, locked in aim at each other, reminiscent of Woo’s gun-play masterpiece, The Killer. The fact that the director, Alexi Tan cites Sam Peckinpah and Sergio Leone as influences, makes me all the more curious to catch this film.

I’m hoping that Hsu Chi will have a pivotal role. Although she’s been around for years, she’s seldom had parts that allow her to develop further or flex her skills. Hsu Chi had several strong performances in the late 90’s but never a platform to shine. Think of a professional athlete – how can they advance with no games?

As the poster subliminally suggests, it’ll be interesting to see how much of an influence John Woo has on this new film. Stay tuned for a review!

In the mean time, check out Daniel’s blog for some behind the scenes, exclusive photos!

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