After Hard Target, Woo was offered the aborted project Shadow War from Hard Target producers Sam Raimi and Robert Tapert. At the same time, Woo and producer Chang also worked on the Fox project Tears of the Sun although he later abandon the project because it required actors to go through extreme shooting conditions (shooting for the film was meant to take place on wildlife environments)something Woo knew Hollywood pampered stars will not agree to. Tears of the Sun was recently announced as the next Die Hard picture and is undergoing re-writes in order to suit the action franshise' characters although John Woo will no longer be involved. Right about the time working on these two aborted projects, Woo was introduced to actor John Travolta by director Quentin Tarantino who happens to be a HK film nut. The two expressed a keen interest in collobrating in a film which resulted in Broken Arrow. Director Woo initially offer Travolta the choice of playing either one of the two protagonists and Travolta decided to try his hand at playing the villain Vic Deakins much to the objections of the studio which insisted that the star should stick to his family wholesome image. When casting Christian Slater as the lead opposite Travolta, Woo was aware of Slater's heart-throb image and decided to create a clean-cut all-American hero. As a result, the character Riley Hale was a huge contrast to the hard-boiled tough-talking anti-heroes of Woo's past HK films.
Despite the fact that Broken Arrow made big money for 20th Century Fox, Woo insisted that working on the film was not at all a good experience. According to Woo, many who worked on the film weren't that good and the film editors were too old-fashioned to understand Woo unique slow-motion style. Nevertheless any doubts about Woo ability to handle a Hollywood film were quickly erased once Broken Arrow was released.
Vic Deakins(John Travolta) and Riley McHale(Christian Slater) are military pilots as well as good friends. Deakins serves as a mentor to McHale in a scene wonderfully displayed in the beginning where the two engaged in an exciting boxing match. During a military training, Deakins tries to kill Mchale to get hold of the two nuclear missiles that they were carrying. In the midst of the struggle, the two of them loses control of the plane and are forced to eject. McHale soon learns that Deakins is planning to use the nuclear warheads to hold the country for ransom. Now, Hale must employ all the tactics he has learn from Deakins to beat him in his own game.
I didn't have a good impression the first time I saw Broken Arrow, it just didn't felt like a John Woo picture. The two main characters Deakins and Hale were not explored thoroughly and their motive were blurry and unconvincing at times.
Director John Woo once quoted that with all the explosions going on in the film, there just wasn't enough time or budget to left to develop the characters. Some of the action sequences did have that "Woo look" mainly the shoot-out between Deakins and Hale in the abandoned mine but even action sequences can't save the film. John Travolta is pretty passable as the villain Vic Deakins but I prefer him in the Woo's excellent follow-up Face/Off. Christian Slater on the other hand, wasn't require to do much acting but frankly, Christian Slater playing a John Woo hero leaves much to be the desire. He doesn't have the coolness and charisma of Chow Yun Fat or either the graceful moves of Jean Claude Van Damme.
However Broken Arrow proves to be an important film in Woo's directing career because it help him earn some respectability among Hollywood studios and thus, much more freedom for his next film, Face/Off.