VENICE, ITALY (AP) - John Woo built his reputation with stylish Hong Kong action thrillers, then moved to Hollywood where he directed such big-budget blockbusters as "Mission Impossible II."
The director is now preparing for a third phase of his career.
"I would like to be a bridge between the good things of the West and the East, so we can further our mutual knowledge and build a strong friendship," Woo said Friday.
Woo was awarded a Golden Lion award for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Film Festival, which recognized the director "as an innovator of the contemporary language of cinema" and for renewing action films by introducing extreme stylization.
Woo, 64, has directed more than 26 films in nearly 30 years, beginning his career in Hong Kong in the 1970s before moving to Hollywood in the 1990s. His U.S. feature debut in 1993 was "Hard Target" starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, and his first Hollywood hit was 1995's "Broken Arrow," with John Travolta and Christian Slater. "Mission Impossible II," starring Tom Cruise, grossed more than $1 billion worldwide.
Despite his filmmaking successes, Woo said he was shocked to be given a lifetime achievement award.
"I wouldn't say that I have much contributed to film society, even though I made several good films," Woo said.
Venice Film Festival director Marco Mueller, an Asian film expert, said Woo's films are "a perfect union of the China tradition and avant-garde filmmaking."
"I don't think we are bestowing an honor. I think it was here waiting for him," Mueller said.
Woo more recently has returned to Chinese filmmaking, directing the epic period war drama "Red Cliff," based on a war that took place in China in the 3rd Century.
Woo said it was about time to bring everything he learned over 16 years working in Hollywood, back to China.
"Right now, I am very happy to be making movies in China for various reasons, because we have a very old history and also a popular folklore that is different from what is known in abroad. I would like to work on films in the future that are more Chinese in nature, but without leaving Hollywood behind," Woo said.
Woo said he chose to make a historic drama like "Red Cliff" to try to help the world learn more about China.
"I have worked a lot abroad, and I find people in general don't know much about our history. People only know Kung-fu films," Woo said.
That's not to say he has left action films behind. He was presenting in Venice a new epic martial arts thriller, "Reign of Assassins," starring Michelle Yeoh, showing out of competition.
This was Woo's fourth time in Venice. He was the "godfather" of a section on Asian film in 2004, directed "All Invisible Children," which showed out of competition in 2006, and was the producer of "Blood Brothers," which showed in 2007.