The latest installment of the John Wick series dropped last weekend, crushing its franchise record opening weekend with a massive $73.5 million. We’ve been watching Baba Yaga shoot, stab, run over, and blow up dozens of chuds every few years now since 2014, but that didn’t stop me from being super excited to watch him throw a kotegaeshi on a dude straight into a speeding car in front of the Arc de Triomphe.
I was ready for excellent martial arts and gun fu, but what I wasn’t ready for was a single overhead shot sequence pulled straight out of a videogame.
The shot was inspired by 2019’s Hong Kong Massacre, according to director Chad Stahelski. In a movie that already ran indulgently close to three hours, he wanted to break up the sequences and try new things. With incendiary rounds throwing superheated particles across the screen, actual stuntmen lit on fire all over the place, and Keanu Reeves himself doing the entire sequence in one continuous ballet of violence, the result is extraordinary.
Hong Kong Massacre was itself inspired by an extraordinary film. Wearing its influences entirely on its sleeve, Massacre has all the hallmarks of a classic John Woo shooter. With a paper-thin plot and stylishly vague cutscenes providing the backdrop, the game is basically Hotline Miami on the set of Hard Boiled. Guns akimbo, hard rain over neon signs, and tea houses full of dudes trying to shoot you, the game is a simple but satisfying top-down shooter.
As for the movie, it doesn’t disappoint. Donnie Yen is incredible as blind martial artist Caine, and Scott Adkins plays Killa, who I suspect is a loving hat-tip to Frank Miller’s Kingpin (it’s just too bad the two couldn’t rehash their battle from Ip Man 4!). Reeves continues to impress with his dedication to the craft, and producer Erica Lee has confirmed that a video game is in the works.