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Review Broken Arrow (1996): It's a fun action flick despite huge studio interference!

genre: action, adventure, thriller








You have to ask yourself. What were the big honcho's thinking? Obviously they brought in John Woo, the supreme god of action, to once again deliver the magic he is famous for. Why then try so hard to limit him? He was already being defied by the studio's and it's star Jean-Claude Van Damme proving that most of his current downfall is due to his own big ego. Apparently Broken Arrow was met with more studio interference. (For the record. I am not a Van Damme hater. I love most of his (early) films. However he has made some questionable decisions in his career that probably have contributed to him not being a huge star as he once was.)

However I can't state this enough. Even a handicapped John Woo is capable of elevating a generic action film into something fun. And that is exactly what Broken Arrow is. Almost devoid of Wooism's there is still enough of Woo in this to make it stand out from most Hollywood blockbusters. But make no mistake Broken Arrow is immensely westernized and you wouldn't even know that this had been directed by John Woo hadn't we been told. Only the true fan will recognize the trademark elements John Woo has made iconic. The dramatic freeze frames and dynamics between good guy Christian Slater and bad guy John Travolta are undeniably John Woo. I myself also found it refreshing that for once a woman and male meeting in an extreme situation didn't lead to romance but merely friendship. I don't know if I can credit that to Woo. But it must be since he rarely is interested in that. And one could argue that Broken Arrow is one big boxing match between two friends and it's definitely more about them than any other person who unintentionally get involved. Still it seems a very realistic approach in a film that is super ridiculous. 

For people wondering there are plenty of shootouts. Not as stylized as you are used too but enough. You can tell that the violence is contained and toned down. Even if the big explosions must have caused quite a few deaths off screen. The film never lingers on these but if you take a second to think about it the number of deaths must be high. Perhaps it was Woo who made John Travolta say his line " I don't know what the big deal is. I really don't." To express his dismay about having to tone down violence in a film. 

I can't help but wonder though what John Woo unleashed would have delivered. Surely it must be glorious. If the cut footage is still around then please give us the director's cut we film fans deserve. For now this will have to do!






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