aka: John Woo presents Stranglehold
Xbox 360 Specs [ all ]

Description official descriptions

A new triad gang called the Golden Kane is gaining strength in Hong Kong and starts to openly threaten the Dragon Claw with it's leader James Wong, the oldest and most powerful clan. His daughter Billie Wong once had a relationship with a cop and got pregnant with Teko. One day both get kidnapped by the Zakarov Syndicate. The name of the cop who got Billie pregnant is Inspector Tequila. He is a veteran Hong Kong cop who doesn't really work by the book but has his heart in the right place. When a cop gets kidnapped (and killed) by the Golden Kane, Tequila starts investigating, against the orders of Captain Ed Lee.

You take on the role of Tequila and not only get the copkillers but also unwillingly help the Dragon Claw because of Billie and her daughter. But the task isn't an easy one since hundreds of enemies stand between him and his goal which mostly end in killing a boss or blowing stuff up.

To deal with all those bad guys Tequila has not only his fists and his trusty Enforcer (dual wield pistols) but also gets access to machine guns, shotguns, grenades and rocket launchers. But this won't be enough either. To give Tequila the ultimate advantage he also has access to Tequila Time and Tequila Bomb.

Tequila Time is like the Bullet Time in Max Payne. It slows down time and allows Tequila to better react to the situation. You can either activate it manually or it gets activated automatically if you perform a jump or interact with your environment. You can slide over tables, roll around on carts, run up stairrails and kick over tables to use as cover.

The Tequila Bomb are super moves like a Health Boost or a Spin Attack (white doves included). To fill up your Tequila Bomb Gauge, you either need to find hidden Origami Cranes or earn Style Points.

You gain Style Points if you kill your enemies during a Tequila Time move or by using your surroundings. If you are fast enough you gain Style Combos which not only fill up your Tequila Bomb Gauge faster but also multiply your Style Points. These Style Points can then be used to unlock all sorts of concept art from the main menu.

Since John Woo greatly influenced the development, you also take part in Mexican Standoffs. In these you are surrounded by some enemies and Tequila takes them on one by one but he can only lean to left and right to dodge the incoming bullets.

The game also features an online multiplayer mode with statistics. The two available game modes are Deathmatch and Team Deathmatch for up to 6 players.

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Credits (Windows version)

41 People (38 developers, 3 thanks) · View all

Music Company
  • Dynamedion GbR
"Let's Blow It All" Music provided by
  • MasterSource Catalog
"Stranglehold Rough 2" and "Pianoimprovstrangle 2" Composed by
Billie Wong
Capt. Lee
Damon Zakarov
Jerry Ying
Jimmy Wong
John Woo (Announcer)
Teko (AKA Nico)
Ty Lok
Vladimir Zararov
Yung Gi
Lou, the chopper pilot
Tea House Boss
[ full credits ]



Average score: 77% (based on 66 ratings)


Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 45 ratings with 2 reviews)

John Woo does gaming, with mixed results.

The Good
Beautiful graphics; Excellent voiceovers; Plenty of destructive action;

The Bad
Threadbare plot; Limited arsenal; Very short;

The Bottom Line
John Woo, that iconic action movie director known for his stylistic violence and love of doves, dives into the video game world with Stranglehold. The game is technically a sequel to Woo's classic film Hard Boiled but you needn't bother watching that movie to understand what little plot there is to this game (although fans of the movie will probably enjoy seeing several characters and locales from the film).

The basic plot follows the rule-breaking, tough-guy cop Tequila as he fights to save his old flame, Billie, and their daughter, Teko, who have now gotten mixed up in a turf war between two rival crime families, one of which Billie's father is the leader of. This leads to much bloodletting and a big plot twist a little more than halfway through the game.

The plot is weak and pretty much an excuse to have Tequila get pissed off and shoot a lot of people, but hey, that's what you're here for, right?

You can even the odds on the hundreds of goons you'll face by utilizing your four special moves: Healing, quite useful and easily the power I used most often; precision shot, which allows you to fire one supremely powerful bullet wherever you want (hint, aim for the guys shooting at you); barrage, which makes you invincible as you unload a ton of lead into everything you see; and a spin move that will cut down anyone standing. Each special move (with the exception of healing) comes packaged with a stunning cutscene of it in action, making the game feel like one of Woo's movies.

Actually, the differences between this game and his films are negligible. The movies have slightly better plots, but the acting and production values easily compare to his better films. The graphics in Stranglehold are nothing short of amazing, with a very life-like Chow Yun-Fat taking the lead with two-pistols a'blazing.

The game is short however, and you might manage to beat it in the time it'd take you to watch three John Woo movies. With only seven chapters, Stranglehold is beatable in five or six hours if you play on a nice hard difficulty level. That said, at least there's no filler here.

You get solid action all the way through, with no interruptions and useless puzzle levels or any other artificial ways to extend the length of the game. I respect that, although I don't quite agree with your surprisingly limited arsenal of firearms. There's a always a right gun for the job, but in an age of weapon-filled games, Stranglehold's simple selection bucks the trend. For good or for ill, I'll let you decide, but personally I could've done with more delightful ways to obliterate the highly destructible environment.

Everything you see will probably break apart under enough gunfire. Walls, pillars, tables, and even, in one memorable level, some dinosaur skeletons. For sheer destructiveness, Stranglehold stands head-and-shoulders above most games.

And that comes to my final say. This is not a deep game, nor is it really moving or intelligent. But sometimes you don't want, or need, that. Sometimes, you just want to blow stuff up. And for that, Stranglehold takes the crown; this is an action junkie's dream come true.

Note: I only reviewed the singleplayer game, and not the multiplayer, so consider this review slightly incomplete.

Windows · by Steely Gaze (208) · 2008

Have You Ever Fired Two Guns While Jumping Through The Air?

The Good
Beautiful Ballets of death, gun action porn, drama the likes of which has never been seen in American action movies and sometimes done better than most dramas out there, these are a few of the things said about John Woo’s Hong Kong flicks even though these things did not survive his trip to the U.S. his Chinese movies still have a very special place in Hong Kong and even world cinema.

John Woo Presents Stranglehold is as the title implies a game that brings John Woo’s flair for action to videogames even though this had technically been done before with games like Max Payne, and the many Matrix games although it is a fallacy to say this game rips off those because they were influenced by John Woo to begin with.

The Beginning of this review is going to do a not so brief retrospective of John Woo’s career. Coming from a Christian family and a life long admiration of Sam Pekinpah, French director Jean Pierre Melville, and Martin Scorsese, started his career with humble beginnings in China in 1969 although his career would not sky rocket until some odd 17 years later. This retrospective of his career is going to focus on the heroic bloodshed films.

In 1986 John Woo directed A Better Tomorrow a film about a criminal Ho and his friend Mark played by Chow Yun Fat, gangsters in a counterfeit operation Ho’s brother Kit is police officer unaware of his brothers criminal life but when events cause him to discover this dirty secret a bitter rivalry between the two brothers and bringing to gun fights what The Shaw Brothers did for sword play, and Bruce Lee for kung fu and common John Woo themes of brotherhood, honor, and betrayal started the “Heroic Bloodshed” Genre becoming a huge success guaranteeing a sequel. In 1987 A Better Tomorrow 2 was released but conflicts with the producer Tsui Hark created script problems so that while the movie does have great action topping the first the plot falls short of the original.

In 1989 Woo’s next project The Killer was released a film about a killer with morals named Ah-Jong(Chow Yun Fat) in a Criminal world changing where honor has now become a dirty word, while on a job Ah-Jong accidentally blinds a singer named Jennie riddled with guilt he takes one last job to pay for a surgery to let her see again although the production was crippled by continued arguments with producer Tsui Hark who wanted to dramatically change John Woo’s vision thankfully he did not have time to mess with it and spoil Woo’s masterpiece.

1990 saw the release of Woo’s most ambitious and personal film, Bullet In The Head a tragic tale of three best childhood friends Ben(played by the amazingly talented Tony Leung) the easy going nice guy, Frank the loyal friend willing to do anything for his friends, and Paul the ambitious one whose dreams of success soon turns to greed when the three head to Vietnam to make money as smugglers and escape the law after accidentally killing a crime boss named Ringo in 1969 in the thick of the Vietnam War after the group suffer many hardships testing their friendship to the brink and the resulting tragedy results in much of the films drama the film has been oft described as haunting fittingly so since after viewing you almost feel as emotionally drained as the characters in the film and the experience stays with you for days after you have seen it.

After the disappointingly low success of his last two films The Killer being moderately successful and Bullet in the Head making very little success possibly because of its political statements and its non mainstream appeal, John Woo decided to make a more crowd pleaser in 1991’s Once a Thief which brings back the John Woo, Chow Yun Fat collaboration in a lighthearted slapstick comedy caper about three orphans turned art thieves although now a lot of John Woo fans seem to dislike it probably cause the expected a film more similar to The Killer or A Better Tomorrow and did not expect what they saw, it was very successful when first released in China.

Over the years John Woo was sometimes accused as glorifying gangsters and triads he decided to make a Dirty Harry style film that glorified the police in Hard Boiled, having Chow Yun Fat return in the last collaboration between him and Woo, in the film Inspector Yuen Tequila(Chow Yun Fat) and undercover cop Alan (Tony Leung) who is dealing with his double life as a triad and a police officer and beginning to forget his real identity, try to take down the gun smugglers who killed Tequila’s partner with John Woo playing a bit part as a bartender at the jazz club and mentor to Tequila. Although the film is riddled with cop movie clichés (which was the point) it has some of the best action ever filmed and even though there is a lack of story considering its John Woo this still has a much better far more plausible story than most action movies the film performed well but not great in China doing much better in the rest of the world eventually causing John Woo to move to The U.S(big mistake) but since the release and success of Red Cliff it is possible that he may return to Hong Kong and make great films again.

This game is responsible for getting me into John Woo movies I mean don’t get me wrong I was always aware of his films and wanted to see them but probably never would have put up the effort to actually see them if it was not for this game it is very hard to get a hold of these movies where I live.

The game Stranglehold serves somewhat of a prequel to Hard Boiled although the weird thing is that the only returning characters are Tequila(voiced by the legendary Chow Yun Fat)and John Woo’s bit role as the bartender, his boss isn’t even the same. The plot revolves around Tequila doing what he does best kicking ass and taking names and looking like an uber badass while doing it, he is hunting the drug dealers who killed a cop and kidnapped someone who has a tie to Tequila’s past.

The Gameplay is a fast paced 3rd person shooter that literally puts you in an action movie a lot of games claim to do this but by far this game is the closest to doing so not to bad mouth a game like Max Payne or True Crime Streets of LA you can slide down rails, shoot the environment down on your foes, participate in John Woo’s trademark Mexican standoffs, enter Tequila Time(remind you of something?)to slow the environment, swing from chandeliers, dive onto rolling carts with a fully destructible environments including tea houses, clubs, and high rise buildings although the plot and events are very much out of a videogame being too over the top even for John Woo it is very fun to play but not necessarily to replay, some levels are not very good and do not warrant a second play.

To say this game is really fun is almost an understatement because when you play you feel like such an unstoppable badass early on it really, is like stepping in a action heroes shoes, there are specials in the game called Tequila Bomb specials that uses a gauge that can be refilled by picking up paper cranes or getting style points like Precision Aim that lets you zoom in and target someone’s exact body part and watch the camera follow the bullet to reach its destination, the barrage attack lets you shoot constantly and quickly to just run through and lay the smack down, the spin attack makes Tequila spin around the area really fast taking out anyone in the radius of your character, and last but not least is the ability to heal yourself in the heat of battle when there are no med kits around .

The Previously mentioned style points are received by stringing together a bunch of sweet kills with style and in quick succession, the sheer creativity you have with your kills is mind blowing.

The game has a very well done use of the achievements like one that is called Hardboiled Killer where you have to get 307 kills (the body count of Hard Boiled) in multiplayer and one called Chow Would Be Proud for getting a set number of style points in a single level some games have generic achievements like finish the game or complete level one but some games like this and The Orange Box are very creative with them.

The graphics and environments are very well detailed really has the Unreal Engine ever not delivered the goods in those departments? The voice acting and sound effects are well done but the music is really nothing special and it is a small but nice touch that in certain levels Tequila wears different clothes.

The Bad
Although this game is fun there are some things that detract from the experience like how some of the levels are uninspired and the bosses strategies usually don’t amount to more than pumping them with tons of lead and hiding behind cover.

The difficulty curve is too uneven the basic novice setting is easy at first and spikes up much later in the game, and the higher levels get ridiculously hard by the third level sending ridiculous waves of enemies at you.

The amount of weapons isn’t as varied as some action games and the ability to only carry two types is lame a real badass action star would carry enough weapons to supply a small army!

The Bottom Line
I think that overall this game is a very good example of the action genre I recommend it to action fans, and John Woo fans especially if you’ve ever been playing an action game and wish you could be very creative with your kills by cranking up the style.

All this game would need is some great drama and it would be like some John Woo movie heaven!

In game form that is.

Xbox 360 · by Classic Nigel (108) · 2009


1001 Video Games

John Woo Presents Stranglehold appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

German version

On September 22, 2007, the international versions of John Woo presents Stranglehold were put on the infamous German index by the BPjM. For more information about what this means and to see a list of games sharing the same fate, take a look here: BPjS/BPjM indexed Games.

Because Midway already knew that this would happen, they released a different version of the game in Germany in which all blood and ragdoll physics on corpses were removed. It got rated by the German rating organisation USK with "Not free for minors" and contains only the German voice-overs unlike the other European releases.

Hard Boiled

Midway's Stranglehold is the spiritual successor to the John Woo directed action film, Hard Boiled. The orchestrated bullet-ballet style of John Woo, as well as the game's main character, Inspector "Tequila" (originally in the film and now in the game as Hong Kong action-star Chow Yun Fat) and some the environs from the film are captured in Stranglehold.


As of 2007, Stranglehold is the first ever PC game to ship on 2 DVD9 discs and to use up almost 15GB of hard drive space.

Information also contributed by Karthik KANE and rstevenson

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Sicarius.

PlayStation 3 added by Sciere.

Additional contributors: MAT, Patrick Bregger, Starbuck the Third, FatherJack.

Game added October 8th, 2007. Last modified August 27th, 2023.