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Old 01-14-2020, 12:20 PM
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What Genre is John Wick?


I watched John Wick 3 yesterday and I know it sounds weird but the story it most reminded me of is Harry Potter of all things. The way there is a secret world right under our noses with intricate rules and laws. It makes the movies feel to me like Fantasy moreso than just a standard Action Drama like, say Die Hard. So I think it could be argued it's a Fantasy film.

What Genre would you say it is?
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Old 01-14-2020, 12:25 PM
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You saw what happened to him at the end, right? This is DEFINITELY a fantasy movie.
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Old 01-14-2020, 12:28 PM
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Revenge Porn ?

ETA - At least the first one. Does the OP want all the genre for all John Wick movies as a whole (Thread Title), or just JW3 (OP)?
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Old 01-14-2020, 01:00 PM
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It's a musical.

I mean, it's an action film, but it also has a lot in common with classic Hollywood musicals like Singin' in the Rain. It's set in a world similar to our own but not exactly like it, one where people spontaneously break into beautifully choreographed, athletically amazing dance/fight scenes for ridiculous reasons that make perfect sense in context. There's a plot, yes, but it's really just an excuse to string the sequences together. Anything can happen - and probably will.

Also, Keanu Reeves is the Gene Kelly of shooting people in the face.

Last edited by Alessan; 01-14-2020 at 01:01 PM.
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Old 01-14-2020, 01:09 PM
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It's a "Shoot 'em up".
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Old 01-14-2020, 02:09 PM
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number 1: John against the bad guys who wronged him.

number 2: John against all the bad guys.

number 3: John against the world.

I re-watched JW2 the other day. In a pivitol scene he has to kill the pretty lady because of the damn code of gangsters. She chooses to kill herself. Then in the end he breaks the code anyway, in the worst possible way, by killing the bad guy right in the Deadwood Hotel bar in front of Al Swearengen.

What the fuck, John? If you are going to break the freakin code why not save the lady, get some lovin, kill her freaking brother and at least have a chance at something other then every bad guy in the world trying to kill you.

Dennis
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Old 01-14-2020, 02:45 PM
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They're definitely action movies with a subgenre being a shoot 'em up. Sure, there are fantasy elements, and they're the heaviest in the third one, but that doesn't shift the genre or even nudge it into "fantasy action" or some hybrid category.
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Old 01-14-2020, 03:28 PM
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They're definitely action movies with a subgenre being a shoot 'em up. Sure, there are fantasy elements, and they're the heaviest in the third one, but that doesn't shift the genre or even nudge it into "fantasy action" or some hybrid category.
I've only seen the first one, but I'd have to agree.

While the notion of this vast criminal underworld and associated code of ethics is definitely fantastic, it's not actual "fantasy" in that at least in the first one, there's no supernatural/magical aspect to it. And it's not even really alternate reality type stuff, in that it's firmly IN our reality, but a little-seen version of it.

Which isn't new; plenty of movies have used the whole "hidden underworld" trope before, where they'd have you believe that you can just put out feelers and round up a highly experienced and professional criminal crew to pull off a jewel heist, or bank robbery, or what have you, when in reality, "The Ladykillers" probably has it a little more like reality.

What makes the version in "John Wick" different is that it's so formalized- there's a whole infrastructure set up at the Continental to allow interactions, etc...
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Old 01-14-2020, 04:13 PM
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The formalism of it has a lot in common with wuxia stories of the jianghu .
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Old 01-14-2020, 04:26 PM
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The "heroic outlaw" trope has always had fantastic elements, dating back to Robin Hood. From pirate fiction to mafia fiction, the notion that gangsters have their own laws and ethics is not entirely untrue, but the reality rarely resembles the fiction.
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Old 01-14-2020, 04:27 PM
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While the notion of this vast criminal underworld and associated code of ethics is definitely fantastic, it's not actual "fantasy" in that at least in the first one, there's no supernatural/magical aspect to it. And it's not even really alternate reality type stuff, in that it's firmly IN our reality, but a little-seen version of it.
The fantastical element is how this very violent world exists quite separately from any sort of law-abiding society. Like you never see any police response to the events, and in the third movie for one, some of that seems to be happening in the open.
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Old 01-14-2020, 05:05 PM
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There also is the semi-magical suit/armor he wears. It looks and moves like a normal jacket yet is bullet proof.
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Old 01-14-2020, 05:37 PM
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It's a "Shoot 'em up".
Yes. And if you've seen the movie called Shoot Em Up you'd see a similarly exaggerated approach to action. I agree, definitely a shoot 'em up.
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Old 01-14-2020, 05:48 PM
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The fantastical element is how this very violent world exists quite separately from any sort of law-abiding society. Like you never see any police response to the events, and in the third movie for one, some of that seems to be happening in the open.
Also, there are no innocent victims. Every single human being hurt in any of the films is a willing participant in the criminal underground - and the single innocent non-human killed is the catalyst for the entire story.
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Old 01-15-2020, 10:21 AM
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The fantastical element is how this very violent world exists quite separately from any sort of law-abiding society. Like you never see any police response to the events, and in the third movie for one, some of that seems to be happening in the open.
Sure, but it's not supernatural, at least not in the first movie. And it's just a variation on the spy movie trope that there's this whole espionage/spying/special ops world simmering just below the surface of what everyone knows, and people get shot, beat up, stuff gets destroyed spectacularly, etc... and it's all covered up and we (the general public) are none the wiser. And all this stuff is going down right in front of our noses and we never know.

John Wick wasn't any different- it was just that instead of the CIA/FSB/MI6 providing safehouses, oversight, gadgetry, the Continental took a lot of that role.
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Old 01-15-2020, 12:17 PM
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John Wick is a Martial Arts film


I think John Wick is a Martial Arts film. But, with guns.

The loner on a quest of redemption and revenge is a classic martial arts tale.

Plus the outrageous many against one fight scenes. Definitely a martial arts film.
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Old 01-15-2020, 01:17 PM
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I think John Wick is a Martial Arts film. But, with guns.

The loner on a quest of redemption and revenge is a classic martial arts tale.

Plus the outrageous many against one fight scenes. Definitely a martial arts film.
Agreed. They even call it "Gun-Fu" in the bonus materials. There's also "Car-Fu", and "Horse-Fu".

Last edited by Jumpbass; 01-15-2020 at 01:18 PM. Reason: 'cause I wanna!
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Old 01-15-2020, 01:57 PM
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Agreed. They even call it "Gun-Fu" in the bonus materials. There's also "Car-Fu", and "Horse-Fu".
How does it rate on the three B's?
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Old 01-15-2020, 04:40 PM
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It's a live action comic book.
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Old 01-15-2020, 05:28 PM
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How does it rate on the three B's?
I don't know what that is.
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Old 01-15-2020, 05:48 PM
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I don't know what that is.
Blood, Breasts, and Beasts.

From Joe Bob's Drive-In, which reviewed movies based on the amount of nudity, violence, car chases, etc. He gave extra points to movies that had kung fu, gun fu, car fu, chainsaw fu, etc.
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Old 01-15-2020, 09:57 PM
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Yes. And if you've seen the movie called Shoot Em Up you'd see a similarly exaggerated approach to action. I agree, definitely a shoot 'em up.
I'll say it: I like Shoot 'Em Up more than any of the John Wick movies. A lot more.

Last edited by Snowboarder Bo; 01-15-2020 at 09:57 PM.
  #23  
Old 01-17-2020, 06:06 PM
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Sure, but it's not supernatural, at least not in the first movie. And it's just a variation on the spy movie trope that there's this whole espionage/spying/special ops world simmering just below the surface of what everyone knows, and people get shot, beat up, stuff gets destroyed spectacularly, etc... and it's all covered up and we (the general public) are none the wiser. And all this stuff is going down right in front of our noses and we never know.

John Wick wasn't any different- it was just that instead of the CIA/FSB/MI6 providing safehouses, oversight, gadgetry, the Continental took a lot of that role.
I agree. This is a post-World-War-2 genre, and Ian Fleming started it. I'd guess that its popularity had something to do with things people were starting to learn about intelligence/military operations during the war, combined with the famous 1950s anxiety about The Bomb.

In the light of terror about mushroom clouds, it was reassuring to imagine that The Good Guys had an entire secret apparatus of fancy weapons and other methods for stopping The Bad Guys.

Eventually that sense of reassurance morphed into new anxiety about The Good Guys being, perhaps, not so good. The result was paranoia plots about a not-very-benign secret organization (often the CIA) such as seen in The Parallax View and The Conversation.

Some of that strain lives on in conspiracy-theory land, with QAnon and worries about the Illuminati. But the more friendly version of 'all-powerful secret organization' stories remain popular: the Kingsman and Men in Black franchises, for example, as well as supernaturally-tinged stories of secret bureaucracies as seen in RIPD, Preacher (the Grail), and The Adjustment Bureau. They continue to be made and to make money.






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Also, there are no innocent victims. Every single human being hurt in any of the films is a willing participant in the criminal underground - and the single innocent non-human killed is the catalyst for the entire story.
That's a crucial part of the fantasy: you can identify with these extremely powerful characters and enjoy their ability to do as they please---yet escape all guilt, because those they kill are 'villains,' not innocents.
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Old 01-17-2020, 06:30 PM
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That's a crucial part of the fantasy: you can identify with these extremely powerful characters and enjoy their ability to do as they please---yet escape all guilt, because those they kill are 'villains,' not innocents.
The difference is that in the John Wick films, the bad guys don't kill innocents, either. That's actually very, very rare in action movies: if the bad guys aren't killing the heroes' friends and family, or mowing down innocent bystanders, then at least they're threatening to do something nasty to civilians. Consider: in every single example you showed, the villain's plan involved a threat to the country/world/whatever. Not in John Wick. Here, both "sides" agree to leave non-players out of the game.

Last edited by Alessan; 01-17-2020 at 06:30 PM.
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Old 01-17-2020, 06:59 PM
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The difference is that in the John Wick films, the bad guys don't kill innocents, either. That's actually very, very rare in action movies: if the bad guys aren't killing the heroes' friends and family, or mowing down innocent bystanders, then at least they're threatening to do something nasty to civilians. Consider: in every single example you showed, the villain's plan involved a threat to the country/world/whatever. Not in John Wick. Here, both "sides" agree to leave non-players out of the game.
Very true. Secret-organization stories have, for the most part, been about governmental or quasi-governmental or sanctioned-by-the government agencies---Bond, Men in Black, Kingsman. (The exception would be the supernatural-based stories mentioned in my last post).

Here we have that popular story theme of 'hitmen' mashed in with the 'secret organization' theme, and as you say, the opposing sides are all, well, hitmen. Or the bureaucracy that serves them. Or, as in the first movie, another criminal organization. And, again, as you say, their violence appears to be confined to other criminals.

Think about how odd it is that in these three movies, there has been virtually no content detailing the assignments that hitmen take. Some of those targets would have been, presumably, non-criminals---which would have violated the idea that all the violence is confined to non-innocents. So we don't see any of that actual work of the organization--the hits on non-members of the criminal underground.

As I recall there have been some passing mentions of John Wick doing various jobs, but none of that has been part of the actual plots of the movies. It's all been revenge against another criminal group (the Russians in the first movie) or against fellow-members of the hitman organization (in the other two).
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Old 01-17-2020, 07:17 PM
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That's part of what makes them special. They're as "pure" an action experience as possible - free of guilt and exploitation, with no cheap appeals to emotion. Just the action, none of the chaff.
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Old 01-17-2020, 07:18 PM
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It's a live action comic book.
This. The style, the world, the story, it shares more in common with The likes of 300 or Sin City than any other genre.
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Old 01-18-2020, 06:55 PM
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That's part of what makes them special. They're as "pure" an action experience as possible - free of guilt and exploitation, with no cheap appeals to emotion. Just the action, none of the chaff.
I agree.

The first in the series was classic "revenge porn," but the other two have been more purely 'watch the people who have worked so hard on their martial arts skills' without any extraneous calls on the viewers' patience.

I do appreciate the trend in action movies represented by the JW movies (also seen in Atomic Blonde), to keep the camera back so we can see what's going on. It makes the old "quick cuts" method of showing fights--Fist! Grimace! Foot into solar plexus! Grimace! Etc.---seem really cheap and outmoded.
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Old 01-19-2020, 04:07 PM
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In John Wick 4, he will fly by wires and duck slow spiraling bullets in extreme slow motion.
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Old 01-19-2020, 04:34 PM
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My girls and I have a theory about the John Wick movies.

They're fantasy. High fantasy like Midsummer Night's Dream or Lord of the Rings. But set in the modern world.

This is because of how so much happens in public and is either ignored or quickly covered up.

Here's the kicker: Because the High Table and its adherents are the Fae. They're classical, dangerous fairies like Oberon and Titania. They're a powerful, magical race of other beings that have been forced to adapt to humans development of an industrial society.

Wait for it...wait for it...

And John Wick is an uber-powerful, almost force-of-nature like character whom all seem to fear - except those not in the know - and who know that wronging him will bring down dread, nigh unstoppable, vengeance.

Wait for it...

John Wick is Robin Goodfellow. John Wick is the Puck.

He's what Shakespeare called, 'That Merry Wanderer of the Night' and Gaiman later called something similar to a 'bloody danger to life and limb' whom the other fairy even feared hearing them talk about him.

The Puck is so powerful he's often treated like Bugs Bunny in that he's so powerful he can't ever start a fight. He has to be acted against - offended in some way - before he'll act. But when he acts it's in an overwhelming and sometimes funny manner.

I'm telling you people. The High Table is fairyland and Wick is the Puck.
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Old 01-19-2020, 06:14 PM
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I'm telling you people. The High Table is fairyland and Wick is the Puck.
It's an interesting idea. But isn't the entire point of fairies the fact that they interact with humans? That their interventions explain why particular things do or don't happen to humans?

We don't have that in the JW stories---we have John Wick interacting with others in his own world. The 'ordinary world'--the humans, in your analogy of JW et al being like classical-folk-lit fairies--are, in the JW stories, oblivious to the existence of the powerful JW and the High Table.

Such unawareness (by the ordinary) contradicts the purpose that powerful beings have in the fairy stories--that purpose being to affect humans.


I do completely agree with you that the JW stories are fantasy, though. The idea that there is so much money being paid to assassins that they can support an impressively-large international bureaucracy, is tough to assess as being anything other than fantasy.

It is a peculiarly 20th/21st centuries fantasy, though, I think. Again, I believe it was inspired by WW2's large-scale bureaucracy, combined with the need for reassurance, post-Hiroshima. The idea of a large secret organization watching over the world became incredibly appealing in the face of the understandable anxieties of the day. (Hence: 007, et al.)
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Old 01-19-2020, 06:29 PM
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The difference between Puck and John Wick is that Puck is a trickster figure, a rule-breaker, which is something John Wick most certainly isn't. He does break a rule eventually, yes but only reluctantly and under great duress - and he spends half of the third film trying to walk it back. Plus, he isn't that clever.

If anything, he's more of a figure from Greek myth, like Achilles - honorable, peerless in battle, yet prone to passions and melancholies
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