Auteur filmmaker John Woo is set to join the ranks of Michael Mann, Frank Capra, and Alfred Hitchcock (all directors who remade their own films) with an American language reimagining of his quintessential action picture, The Killer (1989).
Peacock has announced that Woo will return to “reimagine and direct his own classic,” the original of which featured Chow Yun-fat as an assassin who accidentally blinds a nightclub singer (Sally Yeh) during a job, and agrees to kill a triad boss to pay for the operation.
There have been plans for an American remake of The Killer since as far back as 1992 when Walter Jill and David Giler penned a script that was intended for Richard Gere and Denzel Washington. And back in 2018, Lupita Nyong’o was set to step into Chow Yun-fat’s slick linen suit (sleeves rolled up, of course) and wield dual pistols in a gender-swapped take on the Hong Kong classic. There is no casting news for this most recent project at press time.
The Killer slowly turned into a hit in Woo’s native Hong Kong, placing 9th at that year’s box office and taking home awards for Best Director and Best Editing at the 9th annual Hong Kong Film Awards. The film developed a cult-following stateside and helped bring Hong Kong action cinema to American viewers in the ‘90s, influencing filmmakers like Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino and even rappers. The Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon cites Woo’s film as an influence on his 1995 record Only Built For Cuban Linx… with its theme of men with divisive beliefs needing to “become partners to work shit out.”
Woo began his career in 1969 at the legendary Shaw Studios and made his directorial debut with the kung-fu picture, The Young Dragons. In 1986, his film A Better Tomorrow found him showcasing his distinctive style which featured operatic stories of brotherhood coupled with beautifully choreographed ultraviolet gunfights. Woo made his American filmmaking debut with Hard Target in 1993 which kickstarted a successful Hollywood run including Broken Arrow, Face/Off, and Mission: Impossible 2.
John Woo’s remake of The Killer is slated to hit Peacock next year.