John Woo Yu-Sen aka Sam Ng SBS (born 1 May 1946) is a Chinese film director and producer from Hong Kong. Recognized for his stylised films of highly choreographed action sequences, Mexican standoffs, and use of slow-motion, Woo has directed several notable Hong Kong action films, among them, A Better Tomorrow, The Killer, Hard Boiled and Red Cliff. His Hollywood films include Hard Target, Broken Arrow, Face/Off and Mission: Impossible 2. He also created the comic series Seven Brothers, published by Virgin Comics. Woo was described by Dave Kehr in The Observer in 2002 as "arguably the most influential director making movies today". Woo cites his three favorite films as David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia, Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai and Melville's Le Samouraï.
Woo was born amidst the chaos of the Chinese Civil War in 1946. The Christian Woo family, faced with persecution during Mao Zedong's early anti-bourgeois purges after the communist takeover of China, fled to Hong Kong when he was five. Impoverished, the Woo family lived in the slums at Shek Kip Mei. His father was a teacher, though rendered unable to work by tuberculosis, and his mother was a manual laborer on construction sites. The family was rendered homeless by the big Shek Kip Mei fire of 1953. Charitable donations from disaster relief efforts enabled the family to relocate, however, violent crime had by then become commonplace in Hong Kong housing projects.
Woo went to Concordia Lutheran School and received a Christian education (his Christian background shows influences in his films). See quote 2 bellow, please change} As a young boy, Woo had wanted to be a Christian minister. He later found a passion for movies influenced by the French New Wave especially Jean-Pierre Melville. Woo has said he was shy and had difficulty speaking, but found making movies a way to explore his feelings and thinking and would "use movies as a language".