When you think of guns and explosions, you think of one man: John Woo. When he first came out both locally and internationally with films such as the classics The Killer and Hard Boiled as well as Hard Target, Face Off and Mission: Impossible II, people have always looked up to him and dubbed him “The King of Gun-Fire” and that no one will ever surpass or come close to his works. However, Woo’s action output have relatively declined since the early 2000s when he put such films aside to concentrate on other kinds of films he has had in mind. Since then, people have always been wondering whether or not Woo’s is going to get back to these beloved films, if there are other directors that can direct great gun action scenes, and if the gun action genre is declining or running out of ideas. In my experience for those last two points, I’d say: yes, and DEFINITELY not. Woo may have created a sensation with his style of action film-making but he wasn’t/isn’t the only one to successfully come up with new and fresh ideas for action scenes involving guns. When it comes to Hong Kong cinema alone, directors such as Ringo Lam; Tsui Hark, Dante Lam; Kirk Wong; and particularly Johnnie To (check out The Mission, PTU, Breaking News, Exiled and Vengeance to see his creativity with constructing action scenes work wonders) come to mind and really sticks out. Then you also have other Asian directors – like Jee-woon Kim’s A Bittersweet Life and The Man from Nowhere by Jeong-beom Lee – forwarding the genre ahead with their own ideas for gun action scenes every once in a while.
Now that Hong Kong has left its’ mark all over the world in terms of staging gun-firing onscreen, there’s no question that other countries are beginning to catch up and leaving their own mark, and Mainland China is no exception. Mainland China is already showing signs of embracing the Hong Kong style of action film-making into their films, with most directors and action directors originating from Hong Kong moving to the booming film market to bring their flavors in many co-productions. Two of the most recently made co-productions with brilliantly staged gun action scenes are David Wu’s (former John Woo collaborator) Cold Steel and The Viral Factor helmed by Dante Lam. With the non-MA action genre getting back on its’ feet, the next film to continue the new tradition is the upcoming action thriller The Bullet Vanishes. Produced by Derek Yee (Full Throttle, One Nite in Mongkok, Protege) and directed by Law Chi-Leung (Viva Erotica, Double Tap), the film stars Lau Ching-Wan and Nicholas Tse. Here’s the first released trailer of the film.