In the wake of the horrific Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, Hong Kong action director John Woo was inspired to apply his hyper-stylistic, ultra-violent directorial prowess to showcase the horrors of dictatorial reign and juxtaposing the political conflicts of the day with the similar conflicts of protest revolving around the Vietnam War. Those who are used to Woos balls-to-the-wall style of directing, eschewing logical and realism for absurdist spectacle, will be surprised to see a fusion of that thrilling bravura with the socially critical depiction of violence in the grueling wartime setting of the Vietnam conflict, as three friends find themselves caught in the midst of the bloody, unforgiving conflict while trying to make a living in the criminal underworld. The brotherly camaraderie which is a staple of Woos Heroic Bloodshed films flourish even greater here with the dramatic backdrop of the war compelling their relationships, and the action has never been as visceral or exciting. Bullet in the Head is as grand as it is ambitious, and often overlooked in the pantheon of the great action director’s work.
11:08: The Controversy of Cuties
32:40: The Academy’s Diversity Initiative
41:08: Ken Burns’ The Civil War
45:47: Bullet in the Head