John Woo, well-known movie director, is getting the chance to bring his trademark artistic, super-choreographed action to the videogame world in the shape of Midway's Stranglehold. It's a follow-up of sorts to Woo's flick Hard Boiled, with the game starring a digitised Chow Yun Fat as Inspector Tequila as he tracks a criminal organisation from Hong Kong to Chicago. It's no surprise that the title looks like it'll bear all the hallmarks of Woo's cinematic style, with intense shoot-outs, slow-mo gunplay, explosive acrobatics and dual-wielding pistolas all coming to the party.
We caught up with Brian Eddy, Stranglehold's director and executive producer at Midway, to find out more about taking Hard Boiled's formula and turning it into a videogame
Why was the decision made to create a new videogame based on a pre-existing and fairly old property (Woo's Hard Boiled movie), rather than starting completely from scratch or using a new cinematic license?
Brian Eddy: There have been numerous games and movies that have borrowed heavily from aspects from John Woo's movies, but there has never been a game that incorporates all the elements of his Hong Kong action adventures into one authentic John Woo experience. As videogame makers and huge fans of John Woo's movies, we had wanted to develop a game based on John Woo's work for a long time, and a couple of years ago that chance came along when we were able to get in contact with John Woo. Mr Woo had been interested in making a videogame for awhile, so it was a perfect fit!
When Woo was enlisted to collaborate in the game's creation was Chow Yun Fat an immediate choice given their history together, or did that come about deciding to make the game a continuation of the 'Hard Boiled' Universe?
Brian Eddy: Chow Yun Fat was an immediate choice, both because he starred in so many of the John Woo films we love, but also because he has been able to successfully crossover into Hollywood films (as well as star in Chinese movies like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon that crossed over so well that it won four Oscars!) and gain a popular following in the U.S. and Europe, so that even non-movie buffs recognize him. But the bottom line is how could we possibly do a game like this without Chow Yun Fat? He really is synonymous with the genre.
What is John Woo's input into the game? Can you take us through the process from inception to where you are now for a better idea of his role in Stranglehold?
Brian Eddy: John Woo has contributed a lot of art, animation and cinema direction, and has been very involved in the writing of the story. We are trying to recreate his vision in the game, so we regularly meet with him to review the latest version of Stranglehold and get his feedback, which is always very insightful. Even when it comes to areas that he is not directly very involved in, like gameplay design, he still often has a comment that adds to that aspect of the game, like how an animation could be done that would make a special move in the game more dramatic and impactful. Our process working with him has been very collaborative.
For instance, when we started working on the screenplay for the game we brainstormed different stories with him and came up with an outline we all really liked. Then we hired a couple of different writers to go through and create drafts that we reviewed with John Woo, making sure that the story worked with game-play and slowly perfecting what is now the final script. John Woo has apparently wanted to make a videogame for a long time, so he has been very involved in the development of Stranglehold.