Imagine if Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro suddenly decided they hated each other and would never work with each other again. In my mind, the apparently now-permanent break-up of John Woo and Chow Yun-fat is that catastrophic.
Though the two men haven’t worked together in a director-actor capacity since Hard Boiled, most of us figured they’d reunite at some point down the line, and probably on a film shot back in the homeland. When Red Cliff came about, we rejoiced despite the period epic’s presumed lack of two-fisted gunplay. What a relief to have these two men returning to China for a potential return to glory after years of having their talent misappropriated in Hollywood.
When Chow unceremoniously dropped out of the production a few months ago, the disappointment was palpable, but it didn’t take long for producer Terence Chang to step in and attempt to mediate a détente that would get both men back on working (if not friendly) terms again. The last I’d heard, a rapprochement of sorts had been brokered, which also meant that Chow would be also be acting alongside the great Tony Leung for the first time in over a decade.
Well, forget about. I mean really forget about it. Here’s Chang’s very dispiriting statement: "Chow is definitely out. His dropping out of our film caused us tremendous scheduling problems … If he rejoins us, I am afraid he might create ill feelings among all the crew and all the other main actors." That reeks of rancor. As for how it could come to this, Anne Thompson adds the following: "I’ve interviewed both Chow and Woo… and can attest that they are both lovely human beings. I remember trying to get each of them to explain why they have not worked together, and could detect some pride mixed with a little competitiveness in their answers. That’s a volatile combination on a movie set."
On the not so pitch dark side, Leung is still involved. But there’s not an actor alive with Chow Yun-fat’s presence, so Woo and Chang will definitely be settling. And we’ll be mourning what could’ve been.