In an interview with /Film, Chad Stahelski shares the names of some of the key artists that have helped shape the next level fights and grandiose locales that have come to define the increasingly rich landscape of the series:
“We learned from some of the best choreographers out there, both dance and martial arts, from Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Jet Lee, Yuen Woo-ping, Yuen Chen, Yuen Kuai — all these great Hong Kong choreographers or Chinese choreographers and Japanese choreographers from ‘Zatoichi’ and from Kurosawa’s films.”
The samurai code, otherwise known as Bushido, follows a very rigid ethical system that is meant to direct one’s moral compass in an increasingly complicated world. There’s no other director in history that has defined that way of life on celluloid more than Akira Kurosawa. Starring Toshirô Mifune, Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” remains the high bar for sword-fighting epics called Chambara films that use the samurai code to establish some sense of order and justice for those who never receive it.
One crucial designation that makes the world of “John Wick” stand out among the myriad of action blockbusters is its world building and gradual additions to its ever-expanding mythology. Although John Wick is truly an army of one, the influence of “Seven Samurai” on “John Wick” is readily apparent through the assassin’s creed that Wick and the other killers follow. The rules of the Continental Hotel and the old ways of the High Table are simple but unbreakable. Much like the code of the samurai, the rules of “John Wick” are easily understood but to truly walk the honorable path is almost impossible.
Stahelski has also referenced the great Takashi Miike’s “Hara-Kiri” and admitted his obsession with all 26 episodes of “Zatoichi.” Granted, the “John Wick” series would probably still exist if Kurosawa had never made “Seven Samurai,” but Wick’s nobility comes from having the heart and allegiance of a samurai.