Described by critic Nick Pinkerton as Woo’s “single greatest work” and by John Woo himself as “maybe too pessimistic” (it is a uniquely brutal movie, often compared to Michael Cimino’s The Deer Hunter, 1978), Bullet in the Head demonstrates in part Woo’s debt to the deliriously romantic musicals of Jacques Demy (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, 1964), one of the director’s early influences as a young moviegoer in Hong Kong (although Demy never made movies about greed between friends set during the Vietnam War).

The script began as Woo’s sequel to A Better Tomorrow but in the wake of his split with producer Tsui Hark, Woo rewrote the film to accommodate his feelings about the 1997 handover of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to China (and the subsequent formation of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) and his reaction to the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989.

In place of Chow Yun-fat, Bullet in the Head stars the only living man who could rival Chow for romantic star power: Tony Leung Chiu-wai, a Wong Kar-wai mainstay who here appears with Days of Being Wild (1990) co-star and Cantopop “God of Songs” Jacky Cheung Hok-yau.

Edited down from its original three-hour-plus cut by Woo immediately after preview screenings suggested the film was commercially unviable, Bullet in the Head has been unavailable on home video in the United States since Laserdisc days. I’ll be showing a Korean Blu-ray (in Cantonese with English subtitles) that runs 131 minutes, five minutes short of a long-circulating 136-minute bootleg but visually as good as it has probably looked since its first screenings overseas.
THIS FRIDAY, February 22, in CERIA 365 at 7:00 pm.

Free and open to all UNM students. Enter CERIA through the front door by the fountain.

UNM Film Students to Showcase Projects

UNM Film Students to Showcase Projects

Ideas were floated – some of them coming to fruition.At the KiMo Theatre on Thursday, graduating seniors in the Interdisciplinary Film & Digital Media program at the University of New Mexico will present their capstone projects.The course is the final...

Changes come to UNM’s film department

Changes come to UNM’s film department

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - New Mexico's film industry is booming, and one of our largest universities is making some changes to keep up with the industry's growth. From new courses and degree offerings to Hollywood high-tech equipment, additions to the...

Cinematic Arts Movie Night – “Windtalkers”

Cinematic Arts Movie Night – “Windtalkers”

The second-to-last film John Woo directed in the United States before returning to mainland China to make historical epics, Windtalkers (2002, 134 minutes) was roundly criticized on its release for focusing a film ostensibly about Navajo code talkers in...

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