The “John Wick” franchise has received rave reviews for all over the world most of its three entries so far, now a limited series prequel and a spin-off feature on the way, a fourth main entry in the franchise with Reeves and Stahelski that boasts heavy influences on Japanese films. The “John Wick” franchise shows no signs of slowing down.
Stahelski’s interview on Total Film for their 2023 Preview edition, Stahelski says the new film heavily relied on Japanese influence, which is not just the action and story but also the casting and visuals approach from samurai cinema.
“This one has a very Japanese theme to it. It’s about a certain code, whether it’s friendship or the art of living. Even though everyone in the movie is a bad guy, there’s a code.
I’m a huge fan of Chambara films – sword-fighting films, samurai films – from ‘Harakiri’ to ‘Seven Samurai’. I can literally name all 26 episodes of ‘Zatoichi,’ plus the TV shows! So, obviously, that’s a huge influence.”
This impact spreads to casting choices which will see the teaming of screen fighting legends Donnie Yen and Hiroyuki Sanada using their full skills. Japanese-British singer-songwriter Rina Sawayama joins them, whilst Stahelski says even Reeves himself upped his martial arts game for this outing:
“I just want Keanu to be better as a martial-art stunt performer… So he learns the nunchucks, he learns the bow and arrow, he learns all these new tools. Keanu did his part. Keanu got a little better as John Wick.”
Even though the series takes place primarily in New York City, the second film shot some scenes in Italy, while the third film heavily shot Morocco for its middle act. The upcoming fourth film is headed to Germany, France and Japan.
Coming from Directing “Bullet Train” where the location was set in Japan, set up the production for “Black Samurai” movie for Netflix and working on the “Ghost of Tsushima” live action film, we clearly see Stahelski’s influence on Japanese culture.