John Woo: Training up a director


Issue: "The Man Behind the Duck," July 26, 1997

How many times have churches, Sunday School classes, and families selected an overseas child to sponsor with monetary and educational support and then seen that young person become one of the hottest film directors on both sides of the the Pacific Ocean?

John Woo grew up on the streets and in the shacks of Hong Kong where he was exposed to crime, drugs, gangs, prostitutes, and murder. "I felt we were living in hell," he says. "I just wanted to fly away from hell. Fly away to another place."

World Vision and Compassion International provided the means for Mr. Woo to indeed find and fly to another place. He came to Christ through World Vision. Today he says that he is "eternally grateful" to the American family that supported him through their Lutheran church and allowed him to get an education.

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At one point, Mr. Woo considered the ministry, but the missionary school (probably correctly) deemed him "too artistic to concentrate on being a clergyman." He went on to become the acknowledged master of Hong Kong action movies.

Anticipating the difficulties he would face when the communists took over Hong Kong, Mr. Woo and his family emigrated to America in 1992. His reputation as a moviemaker has continued to soar with his Hollywood hits Broken Arrow and Face/Off.

Many Christians have problems with the very genre of the violent action picture, but Mr. Woo insists that his movies bolster his own strong family values. His heroes are "always reaching out a helping hand," he points out, "even sometimes sacrific[ing] himself for the others." Though Mr. Woo's vocation lies in making movies that are primarily exciting, rather than theological, he demonstrates the value of saving pennies to send overseas.


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