> older writing > fiction

If John Woo Directed Home Alone

by Nick Montfort

"You're an unusual old man," says Macaulay Culkin, gripping his arm where he's seared the bullet wound shut.

Chow Yun-Fat, looking about seventy years old in his makeup, sets down his snow-shovel and chuckles. "And you're an unusual little boy." (The casting of Chow Yun-Fat in the role of the old man was particularly controversial, as the Hollywood favorite for the role was Pat Morita, who played Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid movies.)

Culkin reaches down to his cute little daypack and unzips it. It's full of weapons: visible on the top of the pile are a snub-nosed .357 magnum, two 9mm Berettas, a pistol-grip 12-gauge shotgun, and magazines of explosive-head and Teflon-coated ammunition. Culkin throws the shotgun to Yun-Fat and hefts a H&K MP-5 machine gun.

"Whatever happens, I want you to tell my Mom and Dad that I understand and forgive them," Culkin says. He smiles his warm, childish smile. "Sometimes these little oversights can remind us just how precious each person is."

The first of the seventy-two assailants raises a pistol to fire through the window by the front door, but Culkin turns before he can get the shot off, firing ten rounds into him. The man falls through the frosted, snowflake-adorned window, twisting with each shot.

The onslaught comes: they're faceless extras, but Woo gives them each hero's deaths. They claw the air, reeling from five, six, seven, even eight bullet wounds before they fall. The muzzle flashes and shattering Christmas ornaments punctuate the violent dance. Yun-Fat expends the shells in the shotgun and picks up two pistols, shooting swift death from each hand into the burglars.

Seventy-one bodies later, Christopher Walken (cast as the chief villain) comes forward, dragging Yun-Fat with him, a gun to his temple.

"So, hard-boiled kid, you're still alive," he growls. The tension builds as Culkin lowers his gun and places it on the ground, as commanded. Walken's laugh roars as he, still holding one gun to Yun-Fat, points another pistol at Culkin.


With a single shot to the head, Culkin's movie mom (one of the strongest female characters in any of Woo's films) dispatches Walken from behind.

As the credits roll to the sound of a Cantonese Christmas carol, the crowd at Cannes goes wild with cheers.

original text 1993-09 / posted 2001-04