John Woo’s Chow Yun-Fat Simulator STRANGLEHOLD Now Available On PC Again
Once upon a time, John Woo released a video game. He didn't develop it, but he put his name on it, so you know it's a good time. It was 2007, the prime era of the "not great, not terrible" action games that filled Xbox 360 and PS3 shelves, and the gaming world was in between Max Payne sequels. So a game about jumping through the air in slow motion while dual-wielding pistols was a solid decision.
In Stranglehold, players take the role of Chow Yun-Fat's character from Hard Boiled, in a new story that travels from exploding watermelon-filled Hong Kong to a comparatively drab Chicago. The story's a mostly forgettable series of genre cliches and mission objectives issued via Symbian-era cellphone, but it is (of course) secondary to the action, which - given Woo's personal seal of approval, or at least his signature on the royalties agreement - is all about dat bullet time. Or "Tequila Time," as the game puts it.
For its time, Stranglehold's destruction physics were pretty dang impressive. Pillars exploded with debris, objects flew through the air, and doves appeared all the time for no reason other than "it's John Woo." It's certainly one of the stranger film-to-video-game adaptations, in that it's an adaptation of a directorial style rather than a movie or franchise. I remember renting it, back in the days when you could rent games, playing the shit out of it for a night with a couple mates, and mostly forgetting about it. Occasionally, I'd wonder whatever became of that weird John Woo game, but it had long gone out of print, as games do in this ephemeral world. I found a copy in a second-hand bookstore once, but it didn't play nice with modern PC hardware and OSes.
Now, though, the folks at GOG have spruced Stranglehold up and made it playable again - even on PCs made after 2010. You can buy it right now! I'm sure it'll come across as very silly and even a little bit janky nowadays (I recall some missions getting exceptionally annoying when you ran out of Tequila Time, as the shooting wasn't that good outside of it), but you bet your ass I'm going to sit down and play thirty, maybe even forty minutes of it at some point in the near future. We will never know what exactly pushed someone to gussy up the code to this mostly-forgotten title, but it's great that they did. The more games get preserved, the better.
Now: which director will take up the mantle and adapt their visual sensibility into a video game?