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Video Game / Stranglehold

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Captain Ed Lee: I told you to not go in alone!
Inspector Tequila Yuen: I didn't. Brought my two friends.

Today, your blood will pay for everything!
Mr. James Wong

A Hong Kong policeman is killed in what looks like a regular murder by The Triads and the Tongs and it's a personal challenge for Inspector "Tequila" Yuen investigating the case. Before long, his star crossed love interest Billie and her daughter Teko are kidnapped by a ruthless Russian crime syndicate, too. Much Heroic Bloodshed ensues.

John Woo Presents Stranglehold is a 2007 Third-Person Shooter by Midway Games that is both an affectionate pastiche of the classic Heroic Bloodshed movies and a sequel to the probably most famous example of the genre, Hard Boiled. And it was produced with John Woo participating, while Chow Yun-fat reprises his role as Tequila. As you may have expected from that lineup, the game is much more about marrying Rule of Cool to Rule of Fun and trashing each next level in impossibly awesome ways than anything else.

A sequel, titled Gunrunner, was in the works and was set to feature a Darker and Edgier narrative starring Vin Diesel as a new partner character for Tequila, alongside driving segments a la Midway's own Wheelman (which also starred Diesel). However, it was cancelled due to Midway's severe financial troubles that led to their bankruptcy in 2009.

The game, after being out of circulation for years, finally resurfaced on in 2019.


  • Boss Banter: Just about everyone.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Partly averted, as you have a limit on the total ammo... though it goes away, too, when you activate a Tequila Bomb. Although your ammo is finite, even if you run out, it's a simple matter of backtracking two steps and picking up bullets dropped by the dozens of dead Mooks you will leave in your wake.
  • The Brute: Dapang.
  • Bullet Time: Partly automated — when your reticle finds a bad guy during a shoot-dodge, you automatically enter bullet time.
  • The Cake Is a Lie: Tequila's mission to rescue Billie from the Zakarovs turns out to be a ploy by Wong to eliminate his deadliest competition — and Wong has no intention of letting Tequila and Billie live happily ever after, or their daughter Teko for that matter because he is a bastard who wants Tequila to pay for the death of his son.
  • Checkpoint Starvation: The game features some very long gunfight sequences with nary a checkpoint in sight.
  • Cowardly Boss: Jerry.
  • Cowboy Cop: Not surprising, since Tequila has been a prime example of this trope ever since Hard Boiled.
  • Creator Cameo:
    • John Woo is the bartender in an early level.
    • He also runs a store to buy extra goodies, and is a playable multiplayer character.
  • Cycle of Revenge: Every misery Wong has heaped upon Tequila and his family stems from Tequila's killing of Wong's only son, Johnny Wong, in Hard Boiled, which Tequila did because of everything Johnny had done all movie, including the killing of two of his partners — and once Wong turns Tequila's newest partner against him, has Billie murdered and kidnaps Tequila's daughter Teko, it becomes very personal for Tequila.
  • Dirty Coward: Jerry.
    "One of us is gonna die — and it ain't me!"
  • Disney Villain Death: Teko kills Wong by shoving him off a balcony to his death when he nearly gets a fatal shot on Tequila.
  • Disturbed Doves: Does it even have to be mentioned?
    • Hell, conjuring these out of nowhere, being on the dock or a luxury casino seems to be yet another of Tequila's powers of Awesomeness Is a Force.
  • Dragons Up the Yin Yang: Wong's chamber has a giant jade dragon statue.
  • Embedded Precursor: The PS3 version contains a HD remaster of Hard Boiled on the same blu-ray.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Blast a car enough times or let a car take enough bullets, and it will go BOOM.
  • Everything Breaks: Especially under a Barrage.
  • Exploding Barrels
  • Face–Heel Turn: Jerry.
  • Going Native: Jerry.
  • Good Old Ways/Honor Before Reason: Wong proudly presents himself this way to others. He's not.
  • Grind Boots: One of the standard combat maneuvers.
  • Guns Akimbo: Tequila does this with normal handguns, Golden Guns, and SMGs.
    • And several of the bad guys do this as well, including the Elite Mooks, Dapang (who uses dual shotguns) and Jerry.
  • The Gunslinger: Tequila. He combines Improbable Aiming Skills of the Trick Shot, More Dakka of the Vaporizer, the Gun Fu of the Woo, and is a master of Mexican Standoffs. Also, Jerry who was Tequila's student and is the Woo.
  • Heroic Bloodshed: This game is a shining example of this genre in video game form, and is the sequel to one of the biggest Heroic Bloodshed movies ever made.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: The Precision Shot Tequila Bomb.
    • Which results in graphic shots of the Mooks taking and suffering from the bullets.
  • Interface Spoiler: The game’s multiplayer mode character select groups all the characters by their affiliation and accidentally reveals that Jerry and Mr. Wong are villains. Oops.
  • It's Personal: All of it.
  • Knife Outline: During the cutscene that begins the teahouse shootout from the first stage, one hapless mook winds up behind a tipped-over table, and Tequila uses his gun to shoot an outline through the table all around the guy, just before putting a final bullet into the middle of the outline and through him.
  • Kung-Shui: Just about everything in the environment can be wrecked with sufficient amounts of gunfire and explosions.
  • Leap and Fire: A standard move in Tequila and Jerry's arsenal.
  • Limit Break: The Tequila Bombs. By spending points off your Style Meter, you can do anything from restoring health, landing precision and high-damage shots against opponents, blast the living hell out of enemies in a Barrage attack, or clearing an entire room of enemies in a beautiful slow-mo spin attack.
  • Mexican Standoff: At multiple points throughout the game, you are faced with a standoff, which faces you against multiple opponents all of whom have guns pointed at you. Your objective is to take out each one of them while dodging their bullets, and when the standoff ends, if any of your enemies are remaining, you have to take them out the regular way.
  • Mob War: Between the Golden Kane, the Zakarov Mafiya, and the Dragon Claw triad.
  • The Mole: Jerry was an undercover cop, making him this. But then he went native and joined Wong for real, becoming The Mole for his side.
  • More Dakka: Except for the Barrage Tequila Bomb, you also get to shoot a minigun at one point.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Wong orders one of these on Tequila in a flashback, one of several Kick the Dog moments that Wong pulls in the game.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Mr. Wong's.
  • Offing the Offspring: Poor Billie.
  • One-Man Army: Tequila.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: Mr. Wong is not happy about the fact that his daughter has married a cop-especially the one who killed his son.
  • Respawning Enemies: Normally their respawns are limited.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Mr Wong orders the death of his own daughter to get back at Tequila for the death of Johnny Wong.
  • Revenge Myopia: Mr. Wong wants revenge on Tequila for killing his son Johnny. The fact that Johnny was a psychopathic monster who brought his fate on himself never seems to register. Even worse, to spite Tequila further, Wong orders the death of Billie, the woman Tequila loves, even though she's his own daughter.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: Destroying stuff restores your Tequila Bomb meter.
  • Rule of Cool: So does leaping, sliding and falling while killing mooks.
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: The Zakarovs. Though they pale in comparison to Wong's Dragon Claw.
  • Senseless Violins: Guitar cases full of guns.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: Averted. The shotgun's only real drawback is its low ammo capacity.
  • Shout-Out: A Penny Arcade strip about the game featured an achievement called "Testikill" for shooting enough mooks in the groin. When the game's DLC came out, this was made into an actual achievement.
  • Spin Attack: When doves go flying, Tequila kills everyone in the manner most awesome to the most beautiful soundtrack you can imagine. Kinda like this.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Tequila and Billie.
  • Take Cover!: The game features a basic cover system, although most of the time you'll be jumping around in bullet time. And when you do take cover, because Everything Breaks, you can't stay there forever.
  • The Syndicate: The Golden Kane, the Zakarov syndicate and Dragon Claw.
  • Throw-Away Guns: When running out of ammo. Again, this is a reflection of the John Woo movies, whose protagonists did this frequently.
  • Title Drop: Zakarov does it in his ultimatum to Wong, which Tequila only finds out the full details about after killing Jerry.
    "Your stranglehold has lasted far too long."
  • Trampled Underfoot: During Billie and Teko's kidnapping.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: It wouldn't be a Hong Kong action game without them, with the syndicates in question being Yung Gi's Golden Kane gang and James Wong's Dragon Claw triad.
  • Unstoppable Rage: The Barrage Tequila Bomb. Not only does everything go into slo mo, but Tequila is invulnerable, has endless ammo, and rapid fires — even with rocket launchers!
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Wong's Estate.
  • Villainous Glutton: Dapang.
  • White Shirt of Death: Mr. Wong.
  • Why We Can't Have Nice Things: It's really too bad about the Chicago History Museum.
    • There's even an achievement for completely demolishing a dinosaur skeleton.
  • Why Won't You Die?: Tequila provokes this reaction in Vlad, after he survives not only a whole mess of mooks, but a helicopter gunship aimed to take him out.
    "Dammit! What do I have to do to make you die?!"