(1997)4Lucia BozzolaThe third time was the charm for John Woo in Hollywood, as his 1997 blockbuster Face/Off reached the passionate intensity of his best Hong Kong works. Anchored by dexterous performances by John Travolta and Nicolas Cage as the face-switching antagonists Sean Archer and Castor Troy, the preposterous story line becomes apt material for Woo to once again examine the intimate bond between cop and villain. Whether literally attempting to blow away the man in the mirror or insinuating themselves into the other's personal life, Travolta and Cage inhabit each other's persona with an adept mix of pathos and glee, rendering the transformation as plausible as it is fun. Woo's virtuoso action sequences, culminating in a dove-ridden church shoot-out reminiscent of The Killer (1989), are replete with his signature balletic slow-motion, razor-sharp editing, and two-fisted gunplay, reaching the emotional pitch of high melodrama with well-choreographed visuals akin to a lethal musical. Hailed for its action pyrotechnics and its strong, high-class cast, Face/Off became a summer hit and Woo's first unqualified American success.