aka: John Woo presents Stranglehold

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Critic Reviews 76% add missing review (9 out of 10)

As long as you go into this game expecting an intense John Woo thrill, you will not be disappointed. If you like games like Disgaea or Phoenix Wright, this isn't for you. Otherwise, this is an amazingly great purchase. Get it now.

Sep 7th, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

Gamigo (8.8 out of 10)

Wer gnadenlose Action nicht nur gerne im Kino schaut, sondern auch die Heimanlage öfters mal arbeiten lässt, der sollte sich Stranglehold unter gar keinen Umständen entgehen lassen. Ihr wollt Action? Hier bekommt ihr sie! Innovationen sucht man allerdings meist vergeblich, abgesehen vielleicht von der Kugelkamera. Zudem hat man seit Max Payne einfach das seltsame Gefühl, alles irgendwie schon einmal erlebt zu haben. Aber sollte man Stranglehold deswegen abstrafen? Nein, denn dafür macht es einfach zu viel Spaß. Einzig und alleine die gemeine Kastration der deutschen Version (zur Erinnerung, sie war nie für Jugendliche freigegeben) stößt uns übel auf und man kann wohl davon ausgehen, dass diese Art der Seuche noch weitere Kreise ziehen wird. Wer aber keine Probleme damit hat, wenn der rote Lebenssaft nicht literweise fließt und auch die Verblichenen keines Blickes würdigt, der kann bedenkenlos zugreifen.

Oct 2nd, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

360 LIVE (8.7 out of 10)

Am Ende bleibt ein geradliniger, dabei extrem unterhaltsam gemachter Shooter mit ziemlich viel Kino-Charakter, grandioser Action und dem vermutlich höchsten Bodycount aller Zeiten. (...)

Aug 2007 · Xbox 360 (86 out of 100)

The fact that everything in the game, from the environments to the rewards system, is setup to encourage such visually pleasing action rather than simple run and gun ensures that you're never bored by the incredibly linear progression. If we're looking hard to nit pick it's a trifle short, can feel repetitive after a while and the restrictions on Tequila Time in multiplayer means it's never going to hold the interest in that area. Put aside such quibbles however and you're left with a fantastic action game that brings you as close to being the lead in a fully formed John Woo film as you're ever going to get, for his fans that alone will be enough, for the rest of you still left undecided go and watch 'Hard Boiled' with an Xbox controller in your hand and imagine how great it would be if it was interactive.

Sep 29th, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

Power Unlimited (86 out of 100)

Stranglehold is zo’n game die iedere Hong Kong liefhebber gewoon moet checken. Het is hard, het is goed en er is genoeg voor iedereen.

2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

Atomic Gamer (86 out of 100)

While Stranglehold doesn't revolutionize action games, or even any one part of action games, it's a solid game with an authentic cinematic style, great use of Chow Yun-Fat, excellent action, and destructible environments. This one won't be going down in the history books along with the very best action games and the multiplayer mode is mediocre at best, but Stranglehold still carves out a niche that you'll want to come back and experience again every once in a while. Last I checked, Marcus Fenix and Gordon Freeman couldn't fly through the air horizontally while taking out a half-dozen guys with a pair of Berettas. Until they figure that out, Stranglehold definitely has a place in any action fan's library.

Sep 10th, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

XboxAchievements (85 out of 100)

I’d love to score the game higher, as it does so much right throughout the game, and it’s certainly one of the most enjoyable shooters you can find on the Xbox 360. However, a fairly short campaign, poor multiplayer games and no real incentive to play through more than once except for achievements and style points mean I can’t score it any higher than I have here. However, the most pertinent point was made in the first sentence, and if it’s a fun game you’re after, Stranglehold could easily be the game for you.

Nov 17th, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

AusGamers (8.5 out of 10)

At the end of the day Stranglehold is that rare breed of game that fuses simplicity with great technology. The destruction model for the game’s environments (fuelled by the Havok and Unreal game engines) is unparalleled, while the overall sensation of cool just keeps you pushing on (fuelled by John Woo and Chow Yun-Fat). It is a relatively short game, but there's plenty of reason to keep picking it up, if not for the Achievements then for higher scores per level or just plain beating the unforgiving Hard Boiled mode, if you're still not convinced though, we have the PC demo available for download here. I grew up watching John Woo and Chow Yun-Fat in their honkie movie exploits, but never once did I imagine their filmmaking styles would be perfect for a videogame, now I do. More please.

Sep 17th, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

IGN Australia (8.4 out of 10)

Stranglehold is far from being the ultimate shooter, but it knows what it is, and that's a homage to some of the great Hong Kong action films, and this is a role it revels in – not just in the sense of style that pervades every aspect of the game, from the settings to the special moves, even the epic sense of cool that pervades everything Tequila does, but in the production values and – importantly – the fact that it doesn't take itself too seriously. As the game progresses, the action film clichés stack up, but in the best possible way. After all, how can a bad guy diving out of the window of a skyscraper, only to appear moments later rising up in a helicopter, possibly be bad? And who wouldn't love seeing Tequila diving out of an exploding building, only to land in a speedboat? Robots, that's who. Are you a robot?

Sep 20th, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

ActionTrip (83 out of 100)

In a nutshell, it's safe to say that with Stranglehold, you will be getting exactly what you paid for: over-the-top arcade action with a Hong Kong twist and trademark Woo choreography. As such, the game is great. On the other hand, there is only so much you can do with what you got here, and Stranglehold, although very good, is neither technically nor in any other way, able to pass that threshold and achieve excellence.

Sep 5th, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

Xboxdynasty (XD) (8.2 out of 10)

Stranglehold ist wie die Popcorntüte im Kino. Sind die ersten Popcorn noch lecker, wird die Leckerei immer öder, je weiter man in der Verpackung vordringt. Actionfans weiß der Titel zwar sofort zu gefallen, aber leider nicht auf lange Zeit zu motivieren. Ähnlich wie im Kino, gibt es auch bei der Spielergemeinschaft immer zwei Seiten. Seid ihr eher der Typ der im Kino bei heftigen Explosionen und den waghalsigsten Stunts mit offenem Mund noch gerade ein WOW von den Lippen lassen könnt? Dann ist Stranglehold euer Spiel! Solltet ihr zu der Sorte Kinogänger gehören, die in einem Actionfilm eher mit dem Kopfschütteln und so was von sich geben, wie: “Mensch, muss der denn niemals Nachladen?“ oder „Ist das Mister Unverwundbar?“, dann lasst lieber gleich die Finger von diesem Titel.

Sep 11th, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review (81 out of 100)

Ein wahres Actionfeuerwerk ist John Woo´s Stranglehold auf jeden Fall geworden. Dank der tollen Präsentation glaubt man fast wirklich in einem Kinofilm mitzuspielen. Spaß macht das Spiel daher fraglos, doch nach einiger Spielzeit sackt die Motivation dann doch merklich ab. Besonders die oft geringe Abwechslung innerhalb einer Mission hat mich richtig gestört, zudem hält man das irre Spieltempo kaum länger als eine Stunde am Stück aus. An ein Max Payne kommt Stranglehold auch deshalb nicht heran, da eine spannende Story fehlt. Fast ist man daher schon froh, dass die Daueraction nur sieben Stunden anhält. Ein Erlebnis ist der Titel aber allemal, der erhoffte Hit allerdings nicht.

Sep 21st, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

IGN (8.1 out of 10)

There are a lot of mindless shooters on the market, but none of them immerse you in John Woo's world. And that's where Stranglehold stands out. This is the true sequel to Hard Boiled, which means Stranglehold is more about style than substance. So, not surprisingly, the story is melodramatic and forgettable and the adrenaline-pumping action is the star of the show. Stranglehold could use two more chapters and a little more visual polish, but it is an otherwise exhilarating experience. There are plenty of "Oh my God" moments and just enough challenge to sustain anyone's interest from start to finish.

Aug 31st, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

Defunct Games (80 out of 100)

When Midway announced that they were going to develop the world's first John Woo video game we had our doubts. How would this video game company ever be able to match the excitement of Hard Boiled or The Killer? Now that the game is out it looks like our worries were for nothing, because John Woo Presents Stranglehold is a fantastic action game. Unfortunately it's not a perfect action game, but we feel it's still worth your time.

Sep 10th, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review (UK) (8 out of 10)

If you're prepared to do without online, then Stranglehold has an awful lot going for it. It might well be the most direct, straightforward action game you've played in years, but in a way I'd see that as job done by Midway - it never seeks to overcomplicate, the combat and controls are refined, the learning curve is well balanced, the visuals fantastic, and in many ways there's an almost old school purity about it. Simply put, it's exceptionally good at what it sets out to achieve, which is to distil the best bits of John Woo's cinematic vision and turn it into a crazed video game approximation that anyone can play - in that sense, you can't really fault it. Some might baulk at the lack of depth, and the sense of mindless repetition, in which case steer clear. The rest of you can put your brain on standby, and enjoy the most ridiculous display of videogaming carnage ever.

Sep 14th, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review


Only problem with this game really is that it is a bit short in this day and age and that the acting is pathetic, unless Chinese actors speaking Chinese English does it for you. Other than that it’s a decent title. It is also quite nice to see a Hollywood movie director directing a game and actually pulling it off.

Jul 23rd, 2008 · Xbox 360 · read review (80 out of 100)

Doch bei dem ganzen Stakkato vergisst das Team, dass ein Film wie HardBoiled auch von seiner Dramaturgie lebt, dass alles auf einen Höhepunkt hinarbeitet, den John Woo in nahezu all seinen Filmen mit zielsicherer Perfektion zum Einsatz bringt. Hier allerdings kennt das Drehbuch nur ein Tempo, kennen die Gegner kaum Intelligenz, die Spannungskurve keine Variationen und die Grafikabteilung hat nicht verstanden, dass bei einem Actionfilm nicht nur die Akteure und die Sets, sondern auch die Hintergründe überzeugen müssen. Stranglehold hätte viel mehr sein können als nur ein Dauerfeuer-Viagra für Baller-Fetischisten. Doch statt einem Lobgesang auf den "Heroic Bloodshed", der nur bei den emotional und dramaturgisch überzeugenden Zwischensequenzen angestimmt wird, bleibt Stranglehold eine leicht dissonante Explosiv-Orgie ohne Kompromisse.

Sep 13th, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

Armchair Empire, The (8 out of 10)

But as far as action games go, Stranglehold is about as flashy as they come, with enough slick gunplay to keep fans of the genre glued to their seats and having fun, even if they skip multiplayer altogether.

Sep 25th, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review (80 out of 100)

Stranglehold on pelinä kuin hongkong-leffat; tahallisen korni, toiminnantäytteinen, juoneltaan ohkainen, eikä missään nimessä liikaa ajattelua vaativa. Muille kuin haastavien räiskintäpelien ystäville sitä on melko hankala suositella ja räiskijöillekin vinkkaisin ensin demoversion testaamista, sillä sen perusteella pelistä saa varsin kokonaisvaltaisen kuvan. Täyden pelin hinta on mielestäni näin lyhyestä pelistä hieman liikaa, sillä ainakin itse odotan saavani moisella rahalla hupia pidempään kuin muutamaksi hassuksi ehtooksi. Räiskintäpelirintamalla on tällä hetkellä sen verran paljon kiinnostavampiakin tuotteita, että rohkenen väittää, että Stranglehold tulee livahtamaan alelaareihin aiemmin kuin arvaattekaan.

Oct 22nd, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

Totally Gaming Network (8 out of 10)

In summary Stranglehold is a blast from start to finish, it has a total John Woo movie appeal and your heartbeat will certainly race in portions of this game. It is great fun to play and even better on replay as you can try bigger and better ways at causing mayhem on your quest to be the hero. The multiplayer while fun to play does have it’s problems and could have probably been executed better but it’s tweaks here and there and as such is no biggy… this therefore is certainly a game worth owning.

Sep 21st, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

GameSpy ( )

The game is short, explosive and downright slick and it's everything we hoped it was going to be. Stranglehold is a must for action lovers and John Woo fans everywhere and while you'll be done with the game in a reasonably short time, the journey is one full of eye-popping moves and gratuitous, enjoyable carnage.

Sep 5th, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

Yet Another Review Site (YARS) (8 out of 10)

The graphics are proper Hollywood eye candy. Very stylised , and most definitely a John Woo product. The camera does go astray on occasion when enemies get close up, but this is just a minor annoyance. As is the fact that after a bit you do find the gameplay a little bit repetitive. Not enough to stop you playing through till the end. The major fly in the ointment is the multiplayer- just don't bother with it. I would stick with Gears of War, or Halo 3! Audio wise this is top draw as the voice acting & one liners from the hapless goons combine with the excellent score to create a believable game environment. If you are a fan of John Woo's cinematic work, then you are in for a treat. Time for a Tequila Slammer I think- Cheers!.

Oct 11th, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

GamesCollection (8 out of 10)

John Woo sceglie il videogame come mezzo mediatico per il seguito di Hard Boiled, spendendo in sviluppo almeno quanto uno su pellicola. Semaforo verde, un gioco accattivante incentrato su l'azione pura in stile Cinese e Circense (ecco, l'ho detto) che non deluderĂ  i fan John Woo ne i fan dei giochi d'azione. Un buon gioco per spassarsela qualche ora all'insegna dei film d'azione di un tempo.

Feb 15th, 2008 · Xbox 360 · read review

Gamer 2.0 (7.9 out of 10)

Overall, Stranglehold offers bang for your buck akin to purchasing one large firework instead of a handful of smaller ones. Except that the large firework turns out to be only slightly larger than a mediocre one. Still, it manages to push the envelope with cinematic firefights worthy of the John Woo name even if its story has been told a million times.

Sep 12th, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

TeamXbox (7.7 out of 10)

Like a blockbuster action movie, there are definitely moments when Stranglehold drags (the second level was tedious), but there’s no doubt that your heart will be pumping by the time you make your way through the later levels. You’ll need to make full use of your Tequila Time and Tequila Bomb powers, as there’s no way you’ll survive without them. Our biggest qualm was with the game’s multiplayer mode, which feels tacked-on and unnecessary. Ultimately, this feels like a good first outing for the King of Heroic Bloodshed, and we can’t wait to see what he’s got in store for us next. Perhaps a video game sequel to “Hard Target” starring Van Damme and his stunningly greasy mullet?

Sep 4th, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review (15 out of 20)

Stranglehold utilise parfaitement la grammaire cinématographique de John Woo et offre aux fans du réalisateur un pendant vidéoludique à ses plus belles oeuvres. Le jeu est beau, jouissif et se laisse savourer de bout en bout. Néanmoins, des problèmes d'IA, de durée de vie et de construction limitent le titre de Midway au rang de "simple" très bon jeu malgré son statut d'élégant défouloir. Pourtant, on en viendrait déjà à croiser les guns pour profiter d'une éventuelle suite tant le titre ici présent semble préfigurer un avenir radieux pour le jeu d'action nouvelle génération.

Sep 13th, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

1UP (7.5 out of 10)

And while the story and writing are reasonably solid, they're not nearly riveting enough to outweigh the too-simple, occasionally glitchy nature of the fundamental game. Stranglehold is good enough to present some solid entertainment for the eight or so hours you'll spend playing through the story. And it's certainly good enough to look forward to a sequel, and an opportunity for the developers to put some more meaty gameplay on top of all that pretty tech. But it ultimately ends up as little more than a mindless destruct-a-thon, heavy on style and just a bit too light on substance.

Sep 4th, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review (73.5 out of 100)

Stranglehold is by no means a bad game, but due to a lack of depth and variety, it's far from being an essential purchase. Fans of the genre and John Woo afficionados won't be disappointed, but gamers who are looking for something more than a simple, no-nonsense shoot 'm-up, should look elsewhere.

Dec 1st, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

The Review Busters (7.25 out of 10)

Stranglehold will make you believe that Hollywood directors can create good video games. John Woo's first video game will have you interested in its story, but you will mostly enjoy the game play. With only seven hours of game play on the easiest setting this game will have you playing it over and over again on the harder difficulty settings, especially if you want all those achievement points. Stranglehold does fail on delivering a true John Woo online gaming experience, you will only find yourself getting frustrated when you go online with this game. Only buy Stranglehold for its single player experience and not for its online game play. On a final note though I really do enjoy this game. Because of Stranglehold I got into John Woo's older Hong Kong movies and I should have a review on Hard Boiled for you guys soon.

2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

Computer Bild Spiele (2.38 out of 6)

In diesem Spiel spüren Sie, was heißt, ein Actionheld zu sein. Es sieht fantastisch aus und Sie sind ununterbrochen in Schießereien verwickelt. Bis auf einige Probleme mit der Kameraführung glänzt das Spiel mit gelungener Steuerung und grandioser Grafik. Erwarten Sie aber keine Spieltiefe oder fordernde Rätsel. Mit Stranglehold - einer Art "Moorhuhn" mit Pixelmenschen - werden Sie packende Stunden erleben, das Spiel aber kaum für einen zweiten Durchgang herauskramen. Daran ändert auch der viel zu hektische Mehrspielermodus nichts. Im Solospiel wirkt der Spielfluss aber aufgeräumt, weil alles richtig positioniert ist. Das ist "gute" Unterhaltung.

Oct 3rd, 2007 · Xbox 360 (72 out of 100)

Samalla peli ei valitettavasti tarjoa ihan niin paljon vastinetta rahalle kuin toivoisi. Kuuden tunnin mittainen yksinpeli ja Tequila Timen vesittämisellä pilattu tylsä moninpeli eivät ainakaan allekirjoittaneen mittapuulla vielä saisi aikaan ostopäätöstä, vaikka Woo kolahtaisi kuinka kovaa. Se on kuitenkin selkeästi niin hyvä Hard Boiledin henkinen jatko-osa, että jokaisen John Woo -fanin tulisi ainakin kokea se. Pari-kolmekymppiä halvempana Stranglehold on varsin suositeltava toimintapläjäys, täysihintaisena tuntihinta muodostuu aika kovaksi.

Oct 8th, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

Gamer Within (7.1 out of 10)

It’s not the type of game that you’re going to remember for its utterly unique and innovative gameplay or features. Rather, it’s a game that manages to effectively combine and refine familiar gameplay techniques that combine with its “cool” factor to produce a game that is a lot of fun to play.

Sep 25th, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

GameSpot (7 out of 10)

Stranglehold isn't the sort of game that's going to set the shooter genre on fire. It's a more-than-competent take on an existing formula, and it has enough unique moments and overall challenge to succeed. Sure, it gets repetitive at times, it's got a few design quirks, and the multiplayer is borderline irrelevant. But there's enough solid, exciting action here for shooter fans to sink their teeth into. It's a short ride, but an amusing one while it lasts.

Sep 4th, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

UOL Jogos ( )

E quem disse que todo jogo precisa ser um divisor de águas? "Stranglehold" exige pouco dos miolos e nem tanto assim dos reflexos. É o tipo de game para jogar sem grandes expectativas, só para relaxar. A idéia de levar a fórmula de "Hard Boiled" ao título deu certo e, pelas horas da campanha single-player, compensa o investimento. Depois, ficará esquecido na prateleira, porque o multiplayer é quase descartável e não há fator replay. Toda ação frenética é limitada, mas aqui os toques de John Woo sustentam bem a trama.

Sep 13th, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

PlayDevil ( )

Stranglehold is ultimately an average action title. The multiplayer promise is completely ruined by a) the lack of people playing and B) the fact that it is just a race to pick up all the cranes dotted about the level. This is a real shame as bullet-time in multiplayer would be very cool. The single player is also very short, and whilst it is clearly a high-budget, fun game, there are some shortcomings in the AI, and some frustrating moments. Also, there is not a great deal of replay value, leaving you with a 5 hour game; making it very expensive per hour of enjoyment you get. Stranglehold is an ambitious title and if you like pure action and ignore a few flaws, it may be entertaining for a short time.

Jan 18th, 2008 · Xbox 360 · read review

Gamestyle (7 out of 10)

If you like destruction, shooting people and a game with a brain the size of a pea then there is no doubt that Stranglehold is the game for you. It’s not smart or clever, but despite the flaws it still managed to entertain us right to it’s conclusion. Much like a John Woo movie then.

Sep 27th, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

Super Play (Sweden) (6 out of 10)

Så när som på ett slående hjärta på rätt ställe finns det ingenting under ytan. Stranglehold är inget dåligt spel, men det borde vara mycket bättre än så här med tanke på förutsättningarna.

Oct 2007 · Xbox 360

G4 TV: X-Play ( )

Stranglehold sits alongside Double Dragon and Dynasty Warriors as the type of digital entertainment you'll like despite its numerous flaws. For every knock on the AI or short length or why-bother multiplayer, there's always the inherent joy of shooting someone in the face. That's why you're playing Stranglehold, and that's what it does well. You didn't really expect this to be the next Metal Gear Solid or Zelda anyway, did you?

Oct 23rd, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

Games TM (5 out of 10)

(...) As a game that barely manages to fulfil its minimum expectations, falls far short in a number of areas, and excels at little but the destructibility of its environment, only an average score can be awarded. A five it is, the, but it should have been so much more.

Sep 2007 · Xbox 360

Destructoid (4.5 out of 10)

That said, however, I do consider Stranglehold a “must-rent” game. It’s most assuredly worth the eight or nine bucks to experience the different levels and Massive D scenarios, and even I have to admit that seeing Inspector Tequila again – even in a story as absurdly underwhelming as Stranglehold's – is pretty exciting. If you do end up buying it, I would suggest that you only play it for twenty or thirty minutes at a time: not only will you spread the meager amount of gameplay over several days, but playing it in short bursts will prevent the levels from ever feeling as stale or repetitive as they might if played back-to-back. After that, do what I did: sell your copy on eBay, and just play the free demo should you ever feel a niggling itch to touch this promising, but ultimately underwhelming, title once again.

Sep 7th, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

Game Revolution (C-)

Really, the saving grace of Stranglehold is that it’s actually fun when it’s working right. The gunplay is satisfying, and the flying bullets and shreddable environments just feel right. If you’re a fan of Hard Boiled or action games in general, Stranglehold is a worthy rental and you’ll easily beat it before it’s due back.

Sep 6th, 2007 · Xbox 360 · read review

Player Reviews

Have You Ever Fired Two Guns While Jumping Through The Air?
by Classic Nigel (145)

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.

Jun 1st, 2009 · Xbox 360

Plus 16 player ratings without reviews

Contributors to this Entry

Critic reviews added by Wizo, Yearman, Patrick Bregger, Cantillon, vedder, Corn Popper, Big John WV, Cavalary, Debbie Kearns, CalaisianMindthief, Picard, Jeanne, Alsy, Sciere, Cain ., Evil Ryu, chirinea, Parf, Jacob Gens, Tim Janssen, firefang9212.