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Hollywood to set “John Wick” spinoff movie in Hong Kong

FORGET ALL THAT boring, negative geopolitics stuff. For many teenagers and young adults around the world, mention “Hong Kong” and what comes to mind is the location of some superb movies and games—and there are more in the pipeline.

But let me share a favorite of mine – and not just mine. Movie fans appear to consider the John Wick franchise to be the pinnacle of the action movie genre, so it’s great that the fourth (and arguably best) in the series has a major Hong Kong element in the shape of martial arts star Donnie Yen. This actor, in my opinion, was justly celebrated for the Ip Man movie series, in Cantonese, and embodies the vigour of Hong Kong culture in every character he plays.

In the original script for the fourth in the series, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) is the target of a seasoned blind assassin and martial artist played by Yen. But during the filming, Yen objected to the character’s generic Chinese name “Chang” or “Shang” and stereotypical Mandarin collars. Donnie Yen persuaded the director to give the character a cool name (“Caine”) and slick clothes.

The revised character was so popular that now Lionsgate is planning a spin-off film with Yen in the central role, and set in Hong Kong. Thank you, Donnie!

Donnie is a good friend of Fridayeveryday, and our colleagues did an interview with him (see link below).

But going back to John Wick: Chapter Four, one of the gunfight scenes appears to be inspired by the indie-game The Hong Kong Massacre, by VRESKI. Viewers will note (see image below) the use of top-down wide perspective as well as John Wick’s memorable “Dragon-Breath” gun that scorches enemies unwise enough to stand nearby.

Top left is a scene from VRESKI’s game, and bottom left is a scene from the John Wick movie.

Yen and Reeves also share a short dialogue based around a Cantonese curse that translates to “death to your whole family”. Though this could be seen as a moment of comedic relief in a movie where most of the talking is done by guns, it’s pleasing to hear Hong Kong’s mother tongue in a major Hollywood movie.

Last year, the Soleil game studio released an action video game called Wanted: Dead which was set in Hong Kong. In the game, we follow the Zombie Unit, an elite Hong Kong police squad on a mission to uncover a conspiracy.

And of course, there was a recent mini-series called The Expats, featuring a love story set in Hong Kong.

It’s a much-discussed problem in Hong Kong that the over-political western media has a downer on the city, so it’s refreshing that people around the world will get a politics-free view of the city through culture—even if there are far more gangsters in fictional Hong Kong than you’ll ever meet in the real one. That’s surely a good thing!

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