John Wick Chapter 4’s coolest action scene was inspired by a video game

Cameron Frew
The dragon's breath action scene in John Wick Chapter 4

John Wick: Chapter 4 is chock-full of jaw-dropping action scenes, but one in particular stands out – and it was inspired by a little-known video game.

In John Wick 4, the fourth entry in Keanu Reeves’ hitman franchise, he falls down hundreds of steps, fights hundreds of hapless goons, jumps off of buildings, and uses an assortment of guns, knives, and other weapons to put people into and out of their misery.

In our review, we said “each set-piece brings something new to action cinema, through tension, spectacle, and increasingly imaginative kills.”

We also cited one of the best scenes in the movie, “involving characters being shot from above, like the most violent 8-bit video game ever made” – well, funnily enough, it’s directly inspired by a specific title.

John Wick 4 director explains video game influence in Dragon’s Breath scene

During the latter Paris third of John Wick 4, which is essentially just a barrage of masterful action, Reeves’ assassin is briefly equipped with a shotgun filled with Dragon’s Breath rounds. The Black Ops OGs are already au fait with this weapon, but for those who don’t know, it sets people on fire when you shoot them.

The one-shot, top-down scene sees Wick clearing room after room in a blazing, calculated firefight. While many have compared it to Hotline Miami, director Chad Stahelski had another game in mind.

“If you’re ever lacking creativity, handcuff yourself and then figure it out, because then you’ll do something you haven’t done before. So top shots were never very cool with us, with lighting or choreography, because it gets old quick,” he explained to Slash Film.

“But I had seen this video game and I’ll throw a shout-out – I think it was called Hong Kong Massacre – they did this top shot and we had been doing so much with the big muzzle flashes and it just kind of clicked like, ‘Well, if I’m above, we shoot like this and we shoot like this, and it draws these cool lines with the muzzle flash, and if I get the right flicker effect, it’s like Etch A Sketch. It looks really cool.’

“And it was a different way to amp up the action and keep you in that video game mode that John Wick’s kind of known for, that first-person shooter kind of thing.”

John Wick: Chapter 4 is in cinemas now. Check out our other coverage below:

John Wick 4 review | Killa explained | Ranking the movies | Is there a post-credits scene? | Marquis explained | Ballerina cameo | How long is Chapter 4? | Caine explained | Potential Chapter 5 | What happens to Charon? | 13 Best John Wick kills | Post-credit scene explained | Does the dog die? | Keanu Reeves on emotional ending | Is Chapter 5 streaming? | Movies to watch if you like JW | Will there be a Chapter 5?

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