Broken Arrow (Woo, 1996)

Revisiting John Woo’s American films has been both a revelatory and saddening experience. On the one hand, I know why I liked them as a teenager (the visceral gun battles are still impressive), and on the other I get why they now feel incomplete and childish (from an actual filmmaking standpoint they remain pretty amateurish). Broken Arrow, even more so than Face/Off, plays by it’s own illogical, irrelevant, and inane rules, giving it’s filmmaker credence to just about anything at the cost of plot and character. Travolta hams it up and Slater has a few funny lines, but the real downer is Woo’s use of ridiculous special effects in favor of his patented up close and personal action scenes. At least Hard Target takes some chances in terms of violence represented (that snake scene still gets me). Broken Arrow is about as tame as Woo can get and for this reason it’s by far his worst film here in the States, playing almost like a comedy in some sections when it should be impressing with hard nosed action.

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