Paul Anderson gained a fair bit of notoriety in his native England when he directed the ultra-violent Shopping from his own script. The film, highly regarded for its stylish direction and production on a shoestring budget, featured Jude Law and Sean Pertwee in a story about ram-raiders, thieves whose technique is to drive a car into storefronts and make off with whatever goods can be grabbed in a few seconds. The film was banned in the U.K. for a while, and a somewhat trimmed version became a straight-to-video release in the U.S.
Shopping was enough of a calling card for Anderson that his next film was Mortal Kombat, a flashy adaptation of the hit computer game. Anderson's visual flair and tight editing brought him a great deal of praise. The film performed wonderfully at the box office, giving Anderson a blank check for his next film. He had intended to go straight on to Soldier at Warner Bros., with Kurt Russell in the lead, but the film was delayed by Russell's decision to take a break from acting, pushing the start date of that film into 1998.
Anderson instead went on to direct Event Horizon from a script by Philip Eisner, financed by Paramount, allowing Anderson to once again use Sean Pertwee and Jason Isaacs, who have become a small stock company for him. The science fiction/horror film was stylish and sometimes effective, but took a critical drubbing for its derivative story and poor script. With many critics commenting on the bloody carnage throughout, Event Horizon proved a weak performer at the box office. Though Soldier was eventually made following Event Horizon, it didn't fare much better at the box office and Anderson opted for the small screen for his next feature, a supernatural mystery titled The Sight. Maintaining a low-key profile that left many fans wondering if he would continue after two consecutive flops, Anderson shot back when he took the director's chair for the long-anticipated celluloid adaptation of the popular survival horror video game Resident Evil. Long rumored among fans to be a choice comeback vehicle for zombie grandfather George A. Romero (Romero in fact submitted a script for Resident Evil in addition to directing an atmospheric Japanese television commercial for the game's sequel), the writing and directing credits eventually transferred to Anderson, leaving Romero fans pining for the long-rumored fourth entry into the "Living Dead" series.
Not only did Resident Evil breathe life back into Anderson's career, it also introduced him to actress Milla Jovovich who he fell for and later married. The two would reteam for the film's 2004 sequel, though Anderson opted to hand over directing duties on that film to first-time helmer Alexander Witt, while acting as producer and screenwriter on the project. Anderson instead focused his attention as a director in 2004 on the highly-anticipated Alien vs. Predator, a film based on a series of comic books that hypothesized a battle between two of the sci-fi-action genre's most notorious and monstrous characters. In 2006 Anderson would add another producer's credit to his filmography when he played a key role in helping to bring director Corey Yuen's video game adaptation D.O.A. to the big screen.
In 2008, he directed Jason Statham in the action film Death Race, which spawned two direct-to-vide follow ups, which Anderson only worked on in a producer capacity. He returned to directing the Resident Evil series in 2010, with Resident Evil: Afterlife, and continued to work with Jovovich on The Three Musketeers (2011, in which Jovovich played Milday de Winter) and Resident Evil: Retribution (2012). In 2014, he directed the disaster epic Pompeii.