1. Woo was born Wu Yu-Seng in Guangzhou, China, amidst the chaos of the Chinese Civil War at the end of October, 1946.
2. Because of school age restrictions, his mother changed his birth date to 22 September 1948, which is what remains on his passport.
3. Impoverished, the Woo family lived in the slums at Shek Kip Mei.
4. His father was a teacher, though rendered unable to work by tuberculosis, and his mother was a manual laborer on construction sites. Charitable donations from disaster relief efforts enabled the family to relocate; however, violent crime had by then become commonplace in Hong Kong housing projects.
5. At age three he was diagnosed with a serious medical condition.
6. Following surgery on his spine, he was unable to walk correctly until eight years old, and as a result his right leg is shorter than his left leg. As a young boy, Woo had wanted to be a Christian minister.
7. He later found a passion for movies influenced by the French New Wave especially Jean-Pierre Melville.
8. Woo found respite in musical films, such as The Wizard of Oz and in American Westerns.
9. He has stated the final scene of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid made a particular impression on him in his youth: the device of two comrades, each of whom fire pistols from each hand, is a recurrent spectacle later found in his own work.
10. Woo married Annie Woo Ngau Chun-lung in 1976 and has three children. He has lived in the United States since 1993.
11. In 1969, Woo was hired as a script supervisor at Cathay Studios.
12. In the Kung fu action genre, it was choreographed by Jackie Chan and featured dynamic camera-work and elaborate action scenes.
13. The film was picked up by Golden Harvest Studio where he went on to direct more martial arts films.
14. He later had success as a comedy director with Money Crazy , starring Hong Kong comedian Ricky Hui.
15. Several of his films were commercial disappointments, and he felt a distinct lack of creative control.
16. It was during this period of self-imposed exile that director/producer Tsui Hark provided the funding for Woo to film a longtime pet project, A Better Tomorrow .
17. The story of two brothers—one a law enforcement officer, the other a criminal—the film was a financial blockbuster.
18. A Better Tomorrow became a defining achievement in Hong Kong action cinema for its combination of emotional drama, slow-motion gunplay, and gritty atmospherics.
19. Its signature visual device of two-handed, two-gunned shootouts within confined quarters—often referred to as “gun fu” was novel, and its diametrical inversion of the “good-guys-bad guys” formula in its characterization would influence later American films.
20. Woo would make several more Heroic Bloodshed films in the late 1980s and early 1990s, nearly all starring Chow Yun-Fat.
21. These violent gangster thrillers typically focus on men bound by honor and loyalty, at odds with contemporary values of impermanence and expediency.