John Woo Presents: Stranglehold

Woo's stylized violence comes to interactive life.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

It's an action crime drama -- specifically a John Woo movie -- come to life. Vengeance is more important that police procedure.


Lots of gunplay where the shotgun does major damage. When in slow-motion matrix-type mode, you decide where to place bullets so that they matter when they enter the body.

Not applicable

Mild to strong cursing including the use of "Damn," "S--t," and "Hell."


Fake products only.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some characters smoke and alcohol heals you.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the game glorifies violence in a graphic and, some would say, irresponsible manner; and the game's central message is that one badass cop can take down entire crime families with firepower. Not a real-world lesson, but one you can find on the silver screen. The game lets you jump in various directions and shoot bad guys in slow motion.

Parents say

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What's it about?

JOHN WOO PRESENTS: STRANGLEHOLD could call itself Hard Boiled 2 because it functions as a spiritual sequel to the original groundbreaking film by John Woo, the Hong Kong action director. The game features the likeness, voice, and attitude of that film's hero, international action star Chow Yun Fat. Since it's based on director Woo's cinematic oeuvre, fans know what to expect. Guns, more guns, doves for symbolism, and slow-motion ballet-type carnage that attempts to make mass-killing seem picturesque. Needless to say the game is rated M-Mature by the ESRB.

Is it any good?


Given that there's not much to the cinematics, dialogue, exposition, or presentation of Stranglehold, Mr. Woo might want to reconsider lending the game his name. But the action is satisfying, even though what you're playing is essentially a one- or two-trick pony.

Stranglehold features a major gimmick in search of a game. And that gimmick is: "Tequila Time" (no, Jose Cuervo isn't involved -- the character's name is Tequila), a way to slow everything down and let you place bullets exactly where you need them to go. You gain this miraculous trick by doing other cool stunts ripped from preposterous action movies. The level design, pacing, and use of Tequila Time make for a fun and intense gaming experience.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how this game compares to a John Woo movie. Are the characters the same? Is the plot? Are the mood and tone? What makes interactive games and movies different? In real life, is vengeance ever acceptable?

Game details

Platforms:PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360
Available online?Not available online
Release date:September 6, 2007
Genre:Third-person shooter
ESRB rating:M for Blood, Drug Reference, Intense violence, Strong Language (PlayStation 3, Windows, Xbox 360)

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written byTwilight April 9, 2008
age 0+


Stranglehold is an extremely fun game. Destructible environments and Slow-Mo effects make every level a unique experience. The down sides are, enemies kind of run at you kamikaze style hoping to take you down by sheer numbers and in some of the cut scenes the characters look "Shiney". There's blood of course, nothing overly gratuitous. Language...not over the top. Drugs/Alchohol, drugs are mentioned but all you do is destroy "Labs" and stuff, and Tequila drinks and smokes in a few of the cutscenes.
Kid, 11 years old January 20, 2011
age 9+
What other families should know
Too much violence
Kid, 12 years old March 19, 2010
age 6+
It's way so funny. You can shoot people any where in the body, including nuts with a sniper related aim. Sometimes I shoot people in the right eye with a sniper related aim and sometimes he growls when I shoot him in the right eye. Most of times with a sniper related aim, I shoot people in the nut because it's very funny.


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