The “John Wick” franchise shows no signs of slowing down. Leading man Keanu Reeves and director Chad Stahelski have constructed a franchise that has been mostly pretty bulletproof since it began, with excellent critical and audience reviews for its three entries so far.

Whilst both a limited series prequel and a spin-off feature will be upon us at some point in the near future, more immediately coming is a fourth main entry in the franchise with Reeves and Stahelski once again back doing what they do best.

Whilst the series takes place primarily in New York City, the second film shot various scenes in Italy, whilst the third film heavily used Morocco for its middle act. The upcoming fourth film goes even more international, with scenes shot in Germany, France and Japan.

Speaking with Total Film for their 2023 Preview edition, Stahelski says the new film has much more of a heavy Japanese influence this time in not just the action and story but also the casting and visuals which borrow from samurai cinema this time out. That’s a deliberate choice:

“This one has a very Japanese theme to it. It’s about a certain code, whether it’s friendship or the art of living. Even though everyone in the movie is a bad guy, there’s a code.

I’m a huge fan of Chambara films – sword-fighting films, samurai films – from ‘Harakiri’ to ‘Seven Samurai’. I can literally name off all 26 episodes of ‘Zatoichi,’ plus the TV shows! So, obviously, that’s a huge influence.”

This impact spreads to casting choices which will see the teaming of screen fighting legends Donnie Yen and Hiroyuki Sanada using their full skills. Japanese-British singer-songwriter Rina Sawayama joins them, whilst Stahelski says even Reeves himself upped his martial arts game for this outing:

“I just want Keanu to be better as a martial-art stunt performer… So he learns the nunchucks, he learns the bow and arrow, he learns all these new tools. Keanu did his part. Keanu got a little better as John Wick.”

Lance Reddick, Ian McShane, Laurence Fishburne, Shamier Anderson, Bill Skarsgard and Clancy Brown co-star. Shot late last year, the film is essentially ready to go and is scheduled to be released on March 24th 2023.

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