The Ultimate 1980s Action Movie Is Being Rebooted By Its Own Director

By Michileen Martin | 3 weeks ago

eighties action heroes

Remakes and reboots. They’re all over the place. Listen to what people say and no one wants them or likes them. Yet someone keeps watching them because they keep getting made. Well if you’re one of the ones who feels like you just can’t make any room in your life for another remake, what about a remake by the guy who made the original? That’s what’s happening with John Woo’s classic Hong Kong action thriller The Killer. A new version is coming, and Woo will be the one directing it.

As reported by IndieWire and others, Woo will be helming a “reimagined” version of the film that proved so influential to Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, and other filmmakers. John Woo is teaming up with Universal Pictures and Peacock for The Killer remake, presumably to be released on Peacock’s streaming platform. There’s no release window announced yet, or any word on talent beyond Woo.

Just as Deadline wrote back in 2011, various remakes of The Killer have been in various development stages over the years. Sometimes Woo has been attached to the projects to a more or less limited degree, sometimes not, but admirers of the original film should feel at least a little more confident now that Woo himself has the reins.

As for exactly how this version of The Killer will be “reimagined,” no one is completely sure. As IndieWire notes, back in 2018 Lupita Nyong’o (Black Panther) was attached to a gender-swapped version of the story, but the following year it was announced she had to leave the project for scheduling reasons. It was only one of so many attempts to remake the film over the years, with names like Richard Gere, Denzel Washington, and Michelle Yeoh attached in one form or the other. If that’s some kind of sign that it should simply be left alone, no one’s listening.

the killer
Chow Yun-Fat in The Killer (1989)

First released in Taiwan and later Hong Kong and eventually North America and beyond, The Killer wasn’t a hit right away. But like so many initially under-appreciated films, the romance and bloody stylization of Woo’s early film eventually inspired critics and filmmakers. The double-fisted guns thing. That was all John Woo. Whether you hate the double-fisted guns thing or love the double-fisted guns thing… that was all John Woo.

A few years after The Killer, John Woo took his action genius to the United States. His final Hong Kong film was 1992’s Hard Boiled. His stateside films enjoyed varying degrees of success, with perhaps his biggest success — certainly in terms of how its remained in pop culture memory — being Face/Off, in which Nicolas Cage and John Travolta play characters who switch faces. On the other side of the spectrum is 2000’s Mission: Impossible II, which proved to be no one’s favorite chapter of the franchise.

Before he remakes The Killer, John Woo will have to finish making Silent Night. Like many of Woo’s films, Silent Night is described as a revenge story. Joel Kinnaman (The Suicide Squad) will play a father whose son is killed in the crossfire of two gangs’ conflict. Once he heals from his own wounds, he seeks to avenge his fallen son, and we’re almost positive he’ll be doing the double-fist gun thing at one point.