By Jason Ulrich, Broadside Correspondent

Looking for a movie to rent that will say you’re both a worldly intellectual and an action fan? These movies tend to be few and far between with one noticeable gem coming out of Hong Kong in 1989. After having produced, directed and written some 20-plus movies, Hong Kong-born director John Woo made the most groundbreaking and career-changing of all his films to date.

The film, The Killer, not only went on to garner rave reviews and accolades, but it also influenced an entire new generation of action filmmakers like the Wachowski Brothers, Quentin Tarantino, Tony Scott and Michael Bay.

Woo’s films also weigh heavily on both first- and third-person shooter video games such as Max Payne and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

Using slow motion, quick cuts, long tracking shots and beautiful lighting to evoke a Catholic-style fall from grace, The Killer’s most beautiful negotiation is between its Western film influences and its Eastern storytelling archetypes, dating back to the sword-and-sandals action films of the ’50s and ’60s that Tarantino loves so much.

The story revolves around an assassin named Jeff (Chow Yun-Fat), hired by the Chinese mob for one last job. On the other side of the spectrum is Lee (Danny Lee), an undercover cop who refuses to give up once he catches Jeff’s scent.

Much of the story is simply the vehicle that Woo uses to help veer us from one amazing gun battle to the next. To throw in the Scorsese-style theme of guilt, Jeff blinds a beautiful singer in the first shoot-out and, after making her his mistress, promises to help get her strangely wavering sight back.

Eventually, Jeff and Lee are forced to team up against the mob in the final blood and bullet-soaked showdown, which puts every shootout from The Wild Bunch to The Matrix to absolute and complete shame.

On the movie’s cover, the audience is promised “ten thousand bullets,” which Woo certainly delivers. After making four more films, John Woo journeyed to America, directing such films as Broken Arrow, Face/Off and Mission: Impossible II, though he never again was able to align the stars in such a way that came close to his now-infamous Hong Kong action film legacy.

This film would later become one of the first 10 films immortalized in The Criterion Collection, which is a film preservation and distribution company, specializing in “important classic and contemporary films” presented in new “editions that offer the highest technical quality and award-winning, original supplements.”

More recently, Woo returned to his native land, filming his dazzling, historic epic take on Red Cliffs, a famous battle that took place prior to the Three Kingdoms period (220-280 AD).

The cycle seemed to come full circle in 2007 when Woo helped make Stranglehold, a videogame sequel to his final Chinese film of the ’90s, Hard Boiled, which many claim to be his only film to come near the glory of the bullet ballet known as The Killer.