John Wick: Chapter 4 has a lot of scenes that could be referred to as “that scene.” In fact, the film is nearly entirely composed of scenes that are more “that scene” than the previous “that scene” that came before it. However, there is one scene that seems to be standing out at the moment when people are discussing John Wick: Chapter 4, and it’s the video game / Hot Line Miami-like action sequence in an abandoned Parisian mansion that follows John Wick through the house from a bird’s-eye view as he literally lights enemies on fire using a Genesis 12 shotgun that shoots phosphorus ammunition. It is, bluntly, incredible.
Of course, the first thing that comes to mind for any player is that the scene plays out a lot like a level in the aforementioned Hot Line Miami, in which players charge from room to room blowing away bad guys in a bloody mess all from a bird’s-eye view. It’s an entirely fair comp (as are any number of retro, top-down shooters), but it actually isn’t the game that inspired the scene at all. Director Chad Stahelski revealed that a far less known top-down shooter was actually the direct inspiration for that scene when discussing how the entire thing was put together.
“The game was called Hong Kong Massacre,” Stahelski noted. “I love game culture — I’m not a big gamer myself, but I love the storylines. I love the visuals in Ghost of Tsushima, Assassin’s Creed, all these kinds of games. And we know a lot of people in that industry. I think it’s interesting that between video games, animation, manga, Asian cinema, we’re all kind of related. We all steal from each other, we’re all seeing how crazy the other one’s gonna get.”
Interestingly, Stahelski had not even played the game when he brought it in as inspiration. Scott Rogers, the second unit director on the film, notes that Stahelski simply brought in a promo video for the game and said that he wanted to do it because he loved how you could see enemies coming in from all directions, not just linear. It meant you could kind of foreshadow what is coming and direct an action sequence entirely differently. Still, if you’ve seen the scene in John Wick: Chapter 4, it is very clearly ripped straight from Hong Kong Massacre, with the phosphorus ammunition making almost exactly the same kind of fire and spray that the video game has.
John Wick 4’s god’s-eye gunfight has been called the “Hotline Miami” scene but I was surprised to see Chad name an even more obscure indie game as inspiration
HONG KONG MASSACRE is Hotline Miami x John Woo, and JW4 beautifully adopts its top-down look & gargantuan muzzle flashes pic.twitter.com/hGU3A47icE
— ChristianV (@GenreFilmAddict) March 26, 2023
Haven’t heard of Hong Kong Massacre? That’s fair, The Escapist didn’t cover it at all and neither did very many other sites. It wasn’t that big a game, and reviews were good but not great. Now, however, it’s probably going to get a bit more attention. After all, John Wick: Chapter 4 absolutely destroyed the box office this weekend, and being attached to it, even tangentially, can’t be a bad thing for Hong Kong Massacre.