John Woo Recovers from Tonsillar Tumor; Returns to Work

In late May, the Asian film industry was shocked by the rumors that award-winning director John Woo (吴宇森) was diagnosed with tonsillar tumor, causing much concern and worries amongst his industry friends and fans. After months of speculation, John finally spoke out in public for the first time since May in a media interview yesterday. The 66-year old reassured his fans and friends that he is on the road to recovery during the interview.

Speaking publicly for the first time on his health condition, John said, “I want to hereby thank my doctors in Beijing, who first discovered my benign tumor. If it were discovered any later, it could have potentially become even more serious.” Since spending the last several months recovering from treatment in China, Taiwan and the United States, John said that his health is gradually improving. He thanked his friends and fans for their care and good wishes while recalling, “When I first discovered the tumor, I didn’t want the public to speculate too much about my health. I didn’t want my friends and relatives to worry, so I decided not to announce my illness publicly.”

Even with his illness, John could not steer clear from his favorite subject – films. He commented on the current state of the Asian film scene, saying, “I don’t think we have a film that is a good representation of Asia. There are too many rookie directors who don’t even know where to place a camera and relying heavily on their assistant directors!” He continued, “These days, as long as it’s a big budget production, the film is automatically categorized as an important film. Even my own film, Red Cliff <赤壁> suffered from the same catastrophe – the script was light and we neglected the human spirit of the story.”

John had a few films in production which unfortunately were put on hold after his tumor diagnosis, including Love and Let Love <生死恋>.  Since the cast of the film, including Louis Koo (古天樂), had to fulfill other acting obligations while John was on treatment, he is hoping to restart production early next year in order to accommodate the cast and crew’s busy schedules. 

John also has plans to direct a Western film, reinterpreting French’s director, Jean-Pierre Melville’s classic crime thriller, The Killer <独行杀手>. John said, “We wrapped up discussions on the film last year and I was pleased with the script. The Killer is set in the winter time and filmed in Germany. I plan on going there to scout for filming locations and to cast the male lead.”

John Woo’s passion for directing is apparent as he is eager to restart production on his films immediately, after just recovering from his illness.  

This article is written by Natalie for

Note: This article is written for DO NOT re-post this article on any other websites. No part of this article may be copied, reproduced, rearranged, redistributed, modified by any means or in any form whatsoever without prior written permission.  You may use the content online and for your non-commercial, personal use only. Copying these materials for anything other than your personal use is a violation of copyright laws.

Should you wish to share this article, we recommend that you: (i) link directly to the article at on your website; or (ii) share this article link via social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Related Articles


  1. I agree with John Woo on his assessment of Red Cliff. But I disagree there is no representative work from Asia. Infernal Affairs is a good example even if it is about triads. But is is also good acting, good refreshing take on the usual story and the direction is tight.

    1. yes funn indeed infernal affairs was good.. it was even better thn the western version

  2. It’s refreshing to hear someone like Woo to offer up a doze of self criticism, especially on what many might have perceived to be his signature piece – Red Cliff.

    I also understand his bit on the void of representative work from Asia. Akira Kurosawa is dead and Wong Kar Wai has not been doing a whole lot lately other than spending another 3 years on another film about Ip man (must be the 20th) with one of the miscastin of all time: Tony Leung playing a kung fu master.

    But there is hope: Ang Lee with “The Story of Pi” is coming. Yay!

  3. I too agree with Woo that Red Cliff suffered from light script and lack of human spirit of the story. I was pretty disappointed with the movie. Did not bother watching Red Cliff 2.

Comments are closed.