Organizers for the Venice Film Festival have honored John Woo with its lifetime achievement award, saying the veteran director transformed action movies both in his native Hong Kong and his current professional home of Hollywood.
Calling the 61-year-old filmmaker "an innovator of the contemporary language of cinema," festival organizers said in a statement posted on their official Web site Monday that they decided to award Woo the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement.
"The acknowledgment recognizes a filmmaker who in recent decades, with his revolutionary conception of staging and editing, has renewed action movies to the core, introducing an extreme stylization close to visual art, both in Asia and in Hollywood," organizers said.
"This is a surprise to me. I'm excited. I'm very grateful," Woo told The Associated Press in a phone interview from the eastern Chinese city Hengdian, where he is producing a new kung fu movie starring former Bond girl Michelle Yeoh.
"I feel very gratified that I can communicate with many people around the world and make many friends through movies," he said.
Woo made his name in Hong Kong with stylish action films like "A Better Tomorrow," "The Killer" and "Hard Boiled" before moving on to the U.S., where his credits include "Broken Arrow," "Face/Off" and "Mission: Impossible II." Woo recently returned to China to make the two-part historical epic "Red Cliff." His next project is a movie about the so-called "Flying Tigers" _ American fighter pilots who defended China against Japanese invaders during World War II.
"In his war and gangster film masterpieces, Woo has been capable of transfiguring hyperbolic motion and exasperated violence with a highly original poetic and romantic infusion, sustained by an extremely personal and energetic figurative tension, similar to a surreal hallucination," organizers said.
The award will be presented at the 67th Venice Film Festival, which will be held from Sept. 1-11, 2010.