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John Woo is remaking The Killer—for real this time—with Lupita Nyong'o

yeah, we can picture it
Photo: Marvel Studios (Disney)

John Woo has spent much of the past decade making movies back home in Hong Kong—he’s got a new one, Manhunt, that debuted overseas last fall and is due on Netflix in May—but now Deadline reports that the legendary action director has signed a deal to return to Hollywood for a remake of his 1989 bullets-and-doves classic The Killer. The film is being pitched as a star vehicle for Lupita Nyong’o, who proved her action chops as Wakandan superspy Naika in Black Panther earlier this year.

Nyong’o will step into the role originated by Woo favorite Chow Yun-fat; in the original, Chow played Ah Jong, an assassin wracked with guilt over accidentally blinding a beautiful singer in a shootout who takes on one last job to pay for her eye surgery. The remake will reportedly unfold along those same lines. It’s not clear at this point whether the remake will take the same path as the original, which opens with Ah Jong’s mission but largely revolves around the dance between Ah Jong and Inspector Li Ying (Danny Lee); it’s also unclear if the role of the detective who obsessively (and homoerotically) pursues Ah Jong in Woo’s original film will be gender-swapped as well. We do know that Woo is directing from a script that’s gone through several different iterations already, with another pass from L.A. Confidential and Legend screenwriter Brian Helgeland on the way.


Plans for an American remake of The Killer have been floating around since the early ‘90s, when The Warriors’ Walter Hill scripted his version of the story. Woo himself was attached to another ultimately unfinished version of the project in the early 2010s. That one failed to get financial backing, but this time around, the project seems to be really happening, with backing from a major studio and plans to shoot in France and Germany later this year.

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