10 Movies to Tide You Over Until John Wick 4 Comes Out
Updated: May 28, 2019
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With the opening weekend success of John Wick 3: Parabellum, John Wick 4 has not only been green lit, but it has a tentative release date of May 21, 2021. I am a big fan of the John Wick series and while I cannot wait for the next one to come out, I have created a list of 10 movies that I will be rewatching to help the next two years to pass by a little quicker. This is a numbered list, but the rankings do not mean anything.
1. The Killer
John Woo’s 1989 classic film The Killer was an influential film on the John Wick series. In fact, Keanu Reeves was offered $7 million dollars to do a remake of The Killer in 1995, but that project fell through. This film is the start of all of the John Woo signature visuals such as characters firing two handguns at once and releasing doves on screen.
This is also the start to what is known as Gun Fu, the currently fictional martial art of sophisticated gun play. With over 20,000 rounds used on the beach house scene and over 40,000 rounds used in the final action scene, John Woo not only created Gun Fu but took it to the next level with this film. The film is a simple hit man film that is elevated by its groundbreaking action and hyper violent gun play.
If you are in the Houston area on June 9th, 2019, at 4pm, you can see The Killer on the big screen at Alamo Drafthouse in La Centerra. Click here to get tickets and information about the theater.
2. Hard Boiled
Hard Boiled is ranked number 18 on Entertainment’s “Top 50 Cult Films of All Time” and for good reasons. How do you top a Criterion Collection action film that kicked off a fiction martial art style and set the bar of genre action films in Hong Kong? You double the ammunition, triple the body count, and stylize the film with slow motion. Those three things sum up what is amazing about John Woo’s Hard Boiled from 1992. It is a great cop and mobster film that doubles down on the violence from The Killing. Hard Boiled is also a Criterion Collection Film, so the first two movies are bonafide masterpieces.
If you are in the Houston area on June 16th, 2019, at 2pm, you can see The Killer on the big screen at Alamo Drafthouse in La Centerra. Click here to get tickets and information about the theater.
I will admit upfront that of the 10 movies on the list, this is probably my least favorite film. It is still a 3 out of 5 movie in my opinion, but I did not want to mislead anyone about the greatness of this one. With that caveat out of the way, this is a good kung fu film that is also Keanu Reeves' directorial debut. You can see that Keanu loves martial arts and he put together a decent martial arts film. The other reason that this film made the list was because it stars Tiger Hu Chen who was an uncredited Triad member in John Wick 3 and worked on The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions as a stuntman. Tiger Hu Chen really makes Man of Tai Chi a good action film and his performance does save this film from oblivion. This one is more of a love note to kung fu films, so you could definitely do worse than Man of Tai Chi.
Furie could have easily become a second rate “Taken” style story. Veronica Ngo saved this film with some amazing stunts and epic fight scenes. She was a gangster previously but left because she became a mother. When someone kidnaps her daughter, she reverts back to her criminal ways and does whatever she must to get her daughter back. There are some really excellent fight scenes that make this film a good watch for action fans.
This film was sold to me as “The Expendables of the East”. When you take Tony Jaa, Tiger Hu Chen, Iko Uwais, Scott Adkins, Michael Jai White, and put them all on the big screen together, you get an epic amount of action. While the plot falls into the “direct to DVD” realm, the fight scenes are nothing less than magical. Check your brain at the door with this one and you will enjoy more than enough of the 96 minute run time.
When I thought up this list, this was the first film I thought of. Budgetary constraints took a larger script that went through a prison system and an overall larger gangster plot and paired it down to a single raid in one building. This film is a shining example of taking lemons and creating one of the greatest glasses of cinematic lemonade of all time. Luckily, this film was so successful that we got a sequel that gave us all of the parts that were left out of the original script. Shooting the film in one building and having a singular goal meant that there was no need for endless plot development and left lots of extra room for non-stop action. After watching The Raid: Redemption, you may feel compelled to start a petition to have Iko Uwais to be in John Wick 4.
7. The Night Comes for Us
Out of all of the films on this list with all of their violence, use of guns, weapons, and so on, The Night Comes for Us stands above them all as the most blood soaked film. Human bodies were not suppose to be this butchered and beaten down and still be able to function like you see in this movie. This film also stars Iko Uwais and is another example of why we need to bring him to the United States for mainstream audiences to enjoy in John Wick 4. The Night Comes for Us was a Netflix production and the director Timo Tjahjanto has hinted that this was the first film in a planned trilogy. He says that we have 4 more members of the Six Seas to experience. If you don’t know what that means, then do yourself a favor and stream this film.
Won Bin is a quiet pawn shop keeper with a hidden past life. His only friend is the little girl from across the hall that comes to his shop. When she is kidnapped, he reverts back to his old ways and takes on an underground criminal enterprise that feels like it never ends. This is a great version of the man who has nothing to lose fighting to save the only thing he loves and has some absolutely mind-melting action scenes.
I have to be honest again with this list: I like Ong-bak: The Thai Warrior better than The Protector as a film. Ong-bak was the first time I ever experienced Tony Jaa and it was where I realized I had a new action star idol to worship. The Protector was the next film that I saw and while I enjoyed its action scenes and set pieces, I felt like it ran a little long and was bogged down in some moments. What makes The Protector a must watch for action fans is a single continuous shot that last for three minutes and forty-seven seconds. The fight scene takes place on a spiraling staircase and features amazing stunts that took over a month to set up and 5 takes to get it right. The one scene is worth the price of admission alone.
10. Police Story
When you are creating a list of great martial art films and action films, it would behoove you to mention one of the greatest on screen martial artist of all time, Jackie Chan. As a teenager, I could not get enough of Jackie Chan films. He was my hero growing up and I watched everyone of his movies that I could get my hands on. Whenever I meet someone that has not seen a Jackie Chan movie, first off I am shocked, and secondly, I recommend to them Police Story. It is a really great example of fun stunts in a film that are unique and and mesmerizing. This is a great starting off point for getting into Jackie Chan’s catalog.
At the time of writing this article, we only have 729 days until John Wick 4 comes out. What are some of the films that you are going to watch to pass the time?