John Woo

Broken Arrow

Year: 1996
Directed By: John Woo
Written By: Graham Yost


When we reviewed The Last Boy Scout I mentioned that when you have seen one action movie like this you have practically seen them all.  The only differences being who played the hero and how many bad guys they killed.  This movie is really no different, Christian Slater is the hero and he kills plenty of bad guys in a movie that is about nothing more than gun play and explosions.  This one was directed by John Woo and that does give it a slight edge I think.  I have a special place in my heart for these kind of mindless action movies. They were the kind of movies my parents watched and while I grew to demand more to be entertained I still enjoy these.  I’ve actually liked most of “the Die Hard scenario” movies that came out during the nineties and I like this one too, Die Hard in the Desert.

With John Woo movies you can count on two things.  It will be pointless with over the top action, but everything will look really cool. Woo makes cool action movies and for what they lack in plot they more than make up for with the exaggerated action. Woo also usually has a good score to his films that make them seem more dramatic and mask the fact that there isn’t really any point to the film.  This one is a perfect example; it’s the Die Hard scenario and about nothing more than guns and explosions, peppered with enough fight scenes to keep things interesting. I love the intro boxing scene and how it was choreographed.  These guys aren’t really even boxing in the traditional sense. They are just beating the hell out of each other, for fun, as all friends like to do. Christian Slater literally runs down a jeep on foot in this movie, and as he dives for the vehicle he also catches a gun in mid-air.  That’s John Woo for you.  Oh yeah it is totally ridiculous but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it looked cool and I was into it when it was happening.

Another thing about John Woo, he always saw the value John Travolta had as a bad guy.  I think Travolta has had a really interesting career and I have always liked him despite his personal issues.  Being both a Scientologist and the type of possible homosexual that forces himself on other men he doesn’t really seem like the kind of guy I would like personally.  Yet I think he has made some great movies and played some good roles. He has been around forever and done nearly everything, but I have always liked him best in this kind of role.  I think he is better as a bad guy like this one as opposed to Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction. Great movie and great role that put him back on top but I always thought he looked ridiculous with that hair, and he was a junkie.  The film was great because of the other incredible characters and performances but that is all beside the point. He is getting old now and it’s going to be harder for him to continue getting significant roles. He hasn’t aged as well as his Scientologist counterpart, but he is much older and we may see Tom have the same problem soon. Travolta will be playing the part of John Gotti in an upcoming film about Gotti that was a big priority of the studio at first but seems to keep having hiccups. I don’t know about that casting but I do sincerely hope Travolta blows me away with the part and gets back his credibility.

Christian Slater has really got to miss the 90s right? I have never been a big fan of his Jack Nicholson wanna be style of acting but he is not that bad and I have liked him here and there. Slater tried his hand real hard at this genre during this time.  It was an interesting time because Schwarzenegger and Stallone were just starting to get too old and soon anybody was being cast in this kind of part.  Funny to think that over fifteen years have passed and they are both still trying to cling to these kinds of roles as action heroes.  Even though one has served as Governor and the other has been busted but is still obviously juicing to maintain his physique. As for Christian Slater I do like him in this movie. In truth anybody could have played the part and I don’t know that he brought anything special to the part but still, he was alright.

While I don’t know that it is really necessary I still feel I have to mention Howie Long in the review of this movie. The man may not have been the greatest actor but dammit he did his best and he fit the role perfectly for this movie.  As a huge NFL fan I think Howie is awesome.  He had a great career playing for the Raiders and I think he is a vital part of FOX’s pregame show.  He has also produced two sons that have been drafted in the first round of the NFL draft.  His oldest son Chris Long went second over all a few years ago and just this year his son Kyle was drafted in the middle of the first to Chicago. Also worth mentioning is Delroy Lindo but only because he always brings it in roles like this.  I am not really a fan of Lindo but he has a great authoritative voice that makes him fit well in many movies.

This is the kind of movie that could only be made in the pre-Jack Bauer world.  Let’s face it, Christian Slater is no Jack Bauer and Travolta should count his lucky stars that he didn’t have to deal with Kiefer when he stole nuclear weapons.  Slater doesn’t even torture him, just gets his ass beat before getting lucky and winning.  Travolta got off easy.  Still I like these kinds of mindless action movies and I like this movie.  It’s part of a time in film when this was a scenario for success regardless of whether it was a good movie or not and I miss those times now.  As an audience I think we demand much more this day and age.  We have to be emotionally invested and shocked nowadays, but maybe that’s just me.  I think the time for this type of movie has passed but despite that opinion Liam Neeson has somehow had success making TWO Taken films.

I’ve gone much farther than this movie deserves but found myself in the position to really go the extra mile, it’s just unfortunate it came with such a silly movie.  Yet there is always a time and a place for a film like this.  If you find yourself ready for something pointless and loud then this is the movie for you.  The movie runs a bit too long in my opinion but for the first half I am always into it. That isn’t to say the second half is bad, but it’s just more of what you have already seen.  I have just evolved as a viewer and need more from a film these days.  So I don’t know that I can say this movie is worth your time, but maybe it is worth some of it, it’s an easy way to kill some free time if nothing else.


Year: 1997
Directed By: John Woo
Written By: Mike Werb and Michael Colleary


When I was in my early teens this was probably one of the coolest movies I had ever seen.  It didn’t seem so cheesy then, and fifteen years ago this idea seemed like maybe something we were close to achieving in the real world. It all seems a bit silly watching it now, but this movie does bring back fond memories for me, and it was intricate in my evolving love of action films.

The world was so different in 1997, yet still the same.  It was an interesting time, but I can’t really remember the time period well enough to talk intelligently about it. I was 13 then, and that seems like a million years ago now.  I do remember loving this movie though, and that it was a hit.  In a year like 1997 this was a successful film.  It didn’t matter how ridiculous some of the film is, it made a lot of money despite that.  It might be ludicrous that every time these guys shoot at each other something explodes, and it might not be possible for Castor Troy to smoke a cigarette with no lips. These two guys might have serious and unprecedented operations that they are immediately healed from but none of that matters.  All that matters is how cool everything in this movie is. At least consider how awesome it must have been to a thirteen year old in 1997 watching it.  Castor Troy dressed as a priest and seducing a chorus girl is awesome, his two golden guns are awesome, above all else he is a cool and calculating villain and that is awesome too.  I think Nicolas Cage‘s performance as Troy in the earlier part of the film was his best role of the “trilogy.” Cage made three action films in a row during this time with The Rock and Con Air coming out right before this one and the three films are known as Cage’s “action trilogy”.  Cage has an interesting ability to deliver ground breaking performances in one film then turn around and make the stupidest wastes of time out there.  This was fifteen years ago though, and all three of these action films were well received.  Cage’s star was shining bright in 1997 and no matter how absurd some of his movies were people still paid to see them. I particularly like this one and The Rock, I did like Con Air for a time but grew to find it too cheesy.  They were all cheesy, but the action made up for it, it was a time that only explosions mattered, before heavy duty CGI and excessive green screens.

Ah, and now to John Travolta. Who I happen to think was great in this film, and many others.  I have always been a big fan and the news coming out this week has been quite the shocker.  I’m not surprised despite my admiration of his films.  If nothing else, Grease and Saturday Night Fever should have thrown up some red flags in the 70s right? Travolta is currently facing two lawsuits charging him with sexual misconduct against men.  It has opened the flood gates apparently and similar stories are popping up everywhere. Travolta has been around forever and is actually known for having one of the more long lasting relationship in Hollywood with his wife Kelly Preston so these are really serious allegations. Personally, I don’t care if Travolta is gay, but sexual misconduct is what it is and I hope the allegations aren’t true.  I think Travolta plays a great bad guy and obviously John Woo does too because he has used him in that capacity a couple of times, no pun intended. Travolta and Cage both have to play two different parts in this film and I think they both do a great job with the role reversal.  Gina Gershon is also worth mentioning in one of the female leads.  She is so smoking hot and never worked enough, she should have been cast in so many more roles.

John Woo directed this film and he was a really notable action director at the time. Although he has great vision and imagination when it comes to action, it is all so over-exaggerated and foolish.  To give him some credit, he did a great appreciation for style and good monologues that he used in a fantastic way.  Those proved to suffice during his heyday. John Woo’s movies might seem silly now but they meant a lot to me when I was younger. They were good fun mindless action movies to just sit back and enjoy when there was nothing better to do.

This movie is really really cheesy from beginning to end but it still has its merits and is still thought of favorably. I think this movie is worth your time, if nothing else let it take you back to a different time, a time before the world changed with the internet, terrorism, and the 24/7 news.


I find it really ironic that we are at this movie when John Travolta is under so much fire for sexual harassment. I don’t think I ever really saw this movie until I was out of college and caught it on television one day. I thought it seemed pretty cool and interesting. It’s not a movie that is like other movies. But, because we are snobs here, I have to say after watching it for the blog, I am thoroughly unimpressed. Everything seems implausible to me and makes me laugh. I’m sorry, but an action movie that makes me laugh during the serious scenes isn’t doing something right. This movie is cheesy at best and if you want to waste some time on it go ahead.

NEXT MOVIE: Fargo (1996)