"I take orders from the Octoboss."


Stu already linked this in the MAN OF TAI CHI comments, but I thought it needed its own post. Ladies and gentlemen, this movie I never heard of before is now on my most-anticipated list with a bullet:

The boring 47 RONIN kinda put a damper on the roll Keanu seemed to be on with his excellent directorial debut MAN OF TAI CHI, but not enough to make me skeptical of this one. This is just a great trailer with many classical badass elements: the car, the implications of his past, the dramatic visual reveal of his backstory, the PAYBACK-esque first person narration, the fear on John Leguizamo’s face when he realizes which hornet’s nest his buddies have just kicked.

It’s got two directors, David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, who are stunt performers and coordinators and second unit directors making their directing debut. Leitch has doubled Brad Pitt in several movies starting with FIGHT CLUB, and Van Damme in REPLICANT and THE ORDER. Stahelski was a choreographer for MAN OF TAI CHI and Reeves’ double for the MATRIX trilogy. He’s also a fighter in the gauntlet scene of MISSION OF JUSTICE and in BLOODSPORTs 2 and 3. Speaking of which, Van Damme sequel replacement Daniel Bernhardt is in this too.

Admittedly alot of the movies Leitch and Stahelski have worked behind the scenes on, including the Wachowski production NINJA ASS, have more shaky action than we prefer. But hopefully star/executive producer Reeves’ preference for clarity will win out. In trailer form the action definitely works and there seems to be alot of it. I’m impressed that the gunplay seems so dynamic. It’s been a long time since the John Woo heyday, so usually when the guns come out it seems like a lazy way to avoid real fight scenes.

Writer Derek Kolstad has two previous credits – ONE IN THE CHAMBER and THE PACKAGE – both recent, pretty good DTV movies co-starring Dolph Lundgren. So he’s legit in my book.

The fight choreographers are pretty new, a duo named Nuo and Sunny Sun. They did TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, I guess? J.J. Perry is credited for stunts but not choreography.

Anyway, now we know what we’re doing October 24th.

This entry was posted on Friday, September 12th, 2014 at 3:14 pm and is filed under Blog Post (short for weblog). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

77 Responses to “Meet JOHN WICK”

  1. http://uk.ign.com/articles/2014/09/10/keanu-reeves-wants-revenge-on-the-set-of-john-wick

    “Then we tried to take a bit of old-school blocking that used to be very prevalent in film — not the five-camera, super shaky, handheld, super tight lenses. We tried to let things live a little bit more, even our blocking, our acting, our car chase stuff. It does take some of the kinetic energy away, but on the other hand it lets you live in the shot a little bit more… just an elongated kind of composure.”

    “They wanted me to do stuff that was more jujitsu and also do longer takes with handguns and long guns, you know, so the longer shots, you’ll see me go through the action and shoot a lot of people.”

  2. Shit! I love the smell of payback in the morning.

  3. That looks amazing. And those quotes are incredibly encouraging. You can see a little bit of that in the trailer, near the end where he shoots multiple people within the same take. You don’t see enough of that outside of Scott Adkins’ filmography.

  4. Thanks for the assist, Darren. I tried to finish it off myself but my last comment got eaten for some reason.

    I cannot wait for this fucking movie. My vote for the tagline:

    “They punched his beagle. Now he’s punching their clocks.”

  5. Um, that was me, Darren. Don’t know how that gibberish got in there.

    Something’s telling me I should just stop posting now.

  6. I hope someone here is attending Fantastic Fest next week and post a report. This looks great.

  7. Alternate Tagline: I Know Gun-Fu

  8. Cool Majestyk, thought you were playing tag team. I gotta say, Keanu seems to be growing in to middle-aged grizzled badass like I never would have predicted from his Ted/slacker days.

  9. Suh-weeeeeeeeeeeeeet.

  10. They killed his dog?! Ah, hell no! I hope that at least such a hardcore move means this is going to be rated R. It has to be, right? Anyone know what it’s rated? Please, please, please let this be good and not shaky cam. We deserve this to be good and not shaky cam.

  11. Fuck John Wick. Is there seriously no one here who has any goddamn thoughts on A Good Man?! Or did I miss something?

  12. So let me get this straight. We got Liam Neeson as A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES, and Denzel Washington is THE EQUALIZER and now Keanu is JOHN WICK?

    When the hell did Hollywood remember we love badass revenge movies? Because 2014 is shaping up to be, as Sinatra says, a very good fuckin year.

  13. I’m not a dog owner or lover, never have been, never will be. It’s a hygiene thing, I think. The fur, the shit, the smell. And the maintenance puts me off too. I share Brian Cox’s distaste in LONG KISS GOODNIGHT when he questions why his wife’s pooch spends an enormous amount of time with its tongue between its legs, and I quote ” my dear, whatever he’s looking for, was either never there to start with, or has been dislodged and is gone for good.”

    But I know some people are really close to their dogs. There’s a movie called REVENGE FOR JOLLY that I hear is good, about a guy who kills a whole lot of folks because they killed his dog. I might check it out.

  14. “We need reason for his revenge. They killed his wife.” “No, that’s sexist!” “His kids?” “Hell no! We might have to delay the release if another kid gets shot in real life!” “His puppy!” “Yeah, maybe even PETA will help us promote the movie’s anti-animal-violence message!”

    But in all seriousness, I think it looks awesome. I already saw many people make fun of it for the million cliches in the trailer alone, but fuck those people. This one just jumped straight on top of my watchlist.

  15. Also Brian Cox himself did RED which is all about dealing with somebody killing his dog. He doesn’t go DEATH WISH 2 like it seems he might, but it’s a good movie.

  16. Talking about DEATH WISH: What if this becomes a franchise and John Wick is bad luck to all animals around him, just like John Deathwish for his friends and family? In the sequel he maybe retires again, just to open a dog pund…which of course won’t end well for any of the doggies. Then in part 3 he opens a horse farm…but unfortunately in Washington State…

  17. I saw RED a while back after I got hooked on Lucky McKees films, thanks to MAY and THE WOMAN. Yeah, it’s a bit more down to earth about revenge than the usual genre films. Sorta the way BLUE RUIN tackles the flip-side. But Cox gave a good sympathetic performance in it.

  18. I am also looking forward to seeing Keanu as John Rain. Based on the books of Barry Eisler about a half american half japanese hitman. I started to read HARD RAIN some time ago and it´s pretty badass. Of course as a paranoid assassin he isn´t as straightforward moving as, say Jack Reacher Since he has to stay in the shadows and not roll over the bad guys like a bulldozer.

  19. The first Reeves movie I’ve ever wanted to watch. Still a shame he’s in the lead roll though. Sorry, I just can’t get behind the guy.

  20. I actually really like the way they play the “they killed his dog” angle in this one because they set it up so that it doesn’t seem like anything that’s all that serious from the gangster kid’s point of view, but from Wick’s point of view it has all these deeper meanings that make it worth taking down the whole organization to get to that kid. It’s not really about the dog, but how is some mob brat going to know that? In that kid’s mind, this is nowhere near the worst thing he’s ever done, but this is the one that he’s not going to get away with.

    I like that.

  21. “That dog was the last gift from my dead wife!”

    I can’t be the only one who laughed at that line. It’s almost as good as Lewbowski’s love for his rug. I hope the dog’s name was Snuggles. At the end of the movie Reeves can stand over Snuggles’ grave in the rain and fire his gun off into the sky, shouting/weeping: “Who’s a good boy? Who’s a good boy?”

    I’m a bit conflicted. Like everyone else here, I prefer the “show don’t tell” method of filmatism, but if you’ve got to build your revenge movie around a dead dog and a stolen car, maybe Reeve’s laughably anguished reading of the line is preferable to that scene in Miike’s GOZU.

    I don’t mean this to sound harsh. These kinds of movies can withstand all sorts of absurdity, and it’s a rousing trailer. It’s also the most singleminded checklist of revenge tropes since that one with The Rock and his muscle car a few years ago.

  22. I love how on the nose that line is. It’s saying, “Yes, this is a movie about a guy who gets revenge for his dog. You got a problem with that? What, you don’t like dogs or something?” Because everybody (with the exception of Darren up there, who was apparently born without a soul) likes dogs. It’s a great premise because it means the hero can do anything he wants to the bad guys and the audience is still on his side. It reminds me of one of my favorite tough guy lines in recent years. It’s from SHOOTER, when someone tells Wahlberg there’s no way he can take on the entire CIA by himself, and Wahlberg says, in that guileless deadpan of his, “You don’t understand. These men killed my dog.” Like it’s a done deal. Fucker kills your dog, fucker’s gotta pay.

  23. The Undefeated Gaul

    September 13th, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    Looks like Theon is gonna lose his dick all over again!

  24. The closest I ever got to warming up to the idea of having a dog was a few years back when a lady friend asked me to look after her Pug called Elle for a couple days. Being the gentleman I am I said sure, bring her over. So she turns up with this small, fat, admittedly kinda cute chunk of animal, hands her over with a bag of dried food, says thanks, see you in a few days.

    All was going well till day 2 when I woke to a strange noise in the living room. I walked in to see Elle stumbling around lop-sided like a drunk person, bashing in to the walls and furniture. And there was something not right about her face. Her eyes looked funny. A closer look at her and it appeared her left eye was hanging loose from the socket.

    I called my friend and said umm, I don’t know how to tell you this, but ahh, your dog’s eye is about to FUCKING FALL OUT! She said don’t worry, I forgot to tell you pugs have this genetic problem with bulging eyes and if they knock them they are prone to falling out, you just have to push it back in. Well, fuck me sideways, you learn something new every goddamn day.

    I knew there was no way in hell I was qualified to perform emergency eye surgery on this poor little fucker so I took it to the vet, who popped it back in place and slapped a black patch over its eye. From that day on I called her Elle Driver, California Mountain Snake.

  25. For something that doesn’t seem to have a mind-blowing plot or any particular “moneyshots”, this trailer is incredible – there’s so many things to love – the music video filmatism, the non-shakycam (i hope) fight sequences, the wide varieties of weapons, lots of solid character actors doing their thing. The way he keeps shooting the guy on top of the car and then again off of the car. Plus I love the simple character development in the fact that John Wick buried his weapons cache under the cement in his house. Totally ridiculous, totally badass.

    It’s not exactly played with a wink, because it seems pretty sincere, but you can’t help but grin at it all. It’s like a Grindhouse trailer except the movie stands a very good chance of actually being awesome.

  26. I feel the same way about dogs that I feel about kids: I grew up around them, I like ’em a lot, they’re tons of fun to toss around and make silly noises at, but I have no desire to have any of my own. Too much responsibility. I was born to be an uncle, not a dad.

  27. Plus they just make a mess in your watermelon patch.

  28. That really did work the old magic on me.

  29. Okay guys explain why google is lying about the film:

  30. I have a friend who’s super sensitive to animal harm in movies. To me, “don’t kill the dog” is such an unspoken rule that I often respect a filmmaker for ignoring it (like Spielberg in LOST WORLD. Hey, would you guys consider that that sequel is actually better than JURASSIC PARK?)

    But then, people have such an emotional reaction to animals dying in movies, I also have to call out a lazy filmmaker for just blatantly manipulating the audience.

    I’m seeing this at the Fantastic Festival of Films in Austin so hope it’s good.

  31. “Hey, would you guys consider that that sequel is actually better than JURASSIC PARK?”

    No. No, I would not.

    I want to see a revenge movie about a martial artist who has to avenge the death of his pet iguana. It hasn’t been done before.

  32. Ok I really should’ve googled before that last sentence.

    So I can’t find a movie where someone takes revenge FOR an iguana, but apparently there’s a movie where someone takes revenge ON an iguana. Guess you learn something new every day…

  33. Paul, nobody gives a shit about creepy lizards. Substitute it with an adorable koala and then you might have something.

  34. Ever since I saw a nature documentary about how koalas mate, I’ve been unable to find them cute. Vicious, rapey little buggers.

  35. Can’t believe I didn’t know that. Just spent the last 30 minutes reading up on the mating practices of Koalas. I did however know about ducks, so to return the favour try Googling ducks and gang rape. To be fair, they do have some lovely early courtship practices, but the ‘picky’ girls get gang raped, often to death, and often with the raping continuing well after death. On that note, if the pickings are slim males ducks will even rape other long dead male ducks….


  36. We know all about ducks. We’re survivors of the HOWARD THE DUCK comments.

  37. That racket you hear in the alley at night? Those blood curdling shrieks? That’s a female cat articulating her displeasure at a male cat’s member being inside her. Apparently it’s quite painful for her. I’ve seen a female cat go berzerk and nearly decapitate the male cat who tried to get too friendly with her. There’s a THRILLER style revenge movie in there somewhere (not the Michael Jackson THRILLER, though a case could be made).

    Apparently dolphins can get a bit rapey with the blow holes of other dolphins too.

  38. I guess we can be happy that this movie is not called JOHN DUCK!

  39. I think it’s safe to say the entire animal kingdom doesn’t care too much about consent.

  40. Cat Revenge as metaphor was done with Selina Kyle. Technically she wasn’t raped, just dropped off a building. Even so, you couldn’t imagine her letting a guy inside her without choking him between her legs.

  41. Talking of koalas**, I just wrote up a fairly long piece on “Man of Tai Chi” about its use of voyeurism, specifically through Keanu’s character, to portray the naive sense of entitlement people have regarding “stuff”, and how all too often they’re actually sacrificing their freedom / privacy without realising it. (I could write up a helluva lot more of the importance of walking Jesus-metaphor Keanu now playing a character who’s essentially the devil, but that’s another analysis for another time.) The naivety of giving up one’s freedom for extraneous “stuff” seemed to me to be not only the main theme of the movie, but also the thing that worked the most for me in it; yet I’ve barely seen anybody mention it (except Mouth, in passing) in the comments.

    Anyway, if anybody wants to debate me on that one (and you absolutely should), here’s the link: https://outlawvern.com/2013/11/04/man-of-tai-chi/#comment-3126229 . I don’t often write stuff on movies where you guys have all seen them months beforehand – I didn’t bother saying anything about “Lucy”, for example, because you’ve pretty much covered everything I would’ve said yourselves – but in this case it seems like there’s an obvious angle to the movie that hasn’t really been discussed yet.

    **Ok, I’m not really talking of koalas. I just said I was to keep you guys reading. Because everyone loves koalas. Except Majestyk. And possibly AU now. So what I’m saying is most people love koalas. And I’m sure there was a point there somewhere, but I’m damned if I know what it was.

  42. This is my very first post after 3 years of attending this great site, so I should start by saying “Vern, thank you for your great writing, keen sense of humor and for making our lives a little more tolerable by letting us escape for a few moment through your movie commentary”. One of the first things I did upon discovering this great site was to buy your “Seagalology” book, and it has kept me company many days and nights.
    And this site would not be whole without it’s great set of frequent commenters so hats of to you as well gentlemen, you are a very civilized lot, with a great appreciation for old school bad ass cinema. I am Petros from Greece and happy to be around you all.

    So after the introductions and admirations are out of the way let’s talk about what made me suddenly feel the need, although it’s 7:30 in the morning here and I am still awake, to comment…


    Visually, stylistically, the setup, the “how bad ass is he”, the old school mayhem he unleashes afterwards, the one liners…my expectations for this are through the roof. I have to say when, after viewing the trailer, I read about the makers, I was a bit taken aback. The credits do not inspire any confidence.
    BUT I have not seen a trailer SO good for a straight up action movie in ages. So fingers crossed and let’s hope it turns out a classic, or at least a “fun time at the movies” situation!

    P.S. The “it was the last gift from my dying wife” line was so incredibly well sold by Keanu that it transcended its cornball almost comedic aura and it became a legit reason for him to kill em all. Just because of the dog and the car!!!

  43. Seriously? I’d go all John Wick on any motherfuckers who killed any of my dogs.

  44. Welcome Petros, thanks for commenting. I hope Keanu will keep coming out with good trailers so you will keep posting.

  45. “John Wick-ed this way comes”

  46. Sternshein – I totally agree. There’s no telling what swathes of furious vengeance I might wreak if anybody were to harm my Tiddles.

  47. For some reason this strikes me as typical keanu. Completely down with this ridiculous dead dog = vengeance story but with added KEANU gravitas because it was his last gift from his dead wife. With nic cage just the dead dog would be enough to go crazy. But not Keanu. He likes his weirdness serious.

    I hope this movie will be good!

  48. With Nic Cage, not getting the correct toppings on his pizza would be grounds for a spree. Thugs have to work a bit harder to ruffle Keanu’s feathers.

  49. Keanu is a dude I can support in almost anything. It is a fact that I have seen Street Kings over three times. Good to see him in some good stuff. Man of Tai Chi was unbelievable- one of the best movies I saw last year. On the other hand, 47 Ronin was incredibly boring. This one looks promising as fuck, though. Glad to see people besides Liam Neeson get roles like this, and very glad to see shit like this is being released theatrically. I mean, seems like none of this would have been possible without Neeson’s hilariously awesome winning streak in the thriller genre, so I don’t mean any disrespect, just cool to see Keanu get some of that action.

  50. It’s funny how my feelings on Keanu have changed over the years. I never disliked him, but he used to be the poster boy for compromised casting. He was the dude who wasn’t right for the role but got forced in there by the suits because his name looked good on the poster. This reached a head with CONSTANTINE, a character that, at the time, he could not be more wrong for. Yet somehow he never ruined the movies he was shoehorned into (even CONSTANTINE, which I feel is underrated), and over the years his persona changed. We learned about the tragedies in his real life and what a kind, decent guy he was to everyone who knew him. His generosity to his MATRIX stunt team in particular made me respect him. Now he’s sort of stepped back from the A-list and I’ve come to see him as a force for integrity. He’s been through too much to want to fake it for anybody anymore. I feel like we’re getting the real Keanu now. He has this serene but sad aura to him that feels absolutely genuine and is perfect for the cinema of cathartic violence. As an actor, he’ll never be a great technician, but he has a strong, sympathetic presence that can’t be faked. He’s gone from pretty boy cypher to badass auteur in just a few years. And since he doesn’t seem to age like a normal human, I hope to enjoy this new era of his work for a long time to come.

  51. couldn’t agree more, man, even with the Constantine stuff, which I actually always liked (never read the comic). i sort of hated the dude for a few years because I was young and they kept making shit like Hardball and the Day the Earth Stood Still, not to mention what seemed like countless indie romantic comedies. It wasn’t until about eight years ago when I saw Thumbsucker (this also woulda been around the time of the Private Idaho criterion), that I took a step back and really looked at the dude’s filmography: Bill and Ted, River’s Edge, My Own Private Idaho, Speed, Point Break, Permanent Record, Scanner Darkly, etc etc etc. I realized that not only do I not hate Keanu Reeves, I love him. So putting the dude in a badass revenge movie, and yeah, putting him there at this stage of his career, seems like quite the masterstroke. Hopefully the movie is good, but either way, glad to see people are trying

  52. As the owner of a beagle who recently passed, I could not support John Wick’s mission more. Such a good trailer. I can’t remember the last time a movie I had no idea existed before seeing the trailer grabbed me and locked down my money this quickly. I am also always a supporter of more Keanu Reeves so it’s a victory on many levels.

  53. Not sure I ever saw Reeves as just a “pretty boy cypher” who later made good. But then the first things I saw him in were MY PRIVATE IDAHO, RIVER’S EDGE, BILL & TED and I LOVE YOU TO DEATH, all films that play to his strengths. Maybe if I’d first seen him in poorer fits like DANGEROUS LIAISONS or MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING I’d have a different opinion of him. Even then, he was so perfect and even endearing in THE MATRIX that I think I’d forgive the earlier misfires.

    Can’t believe the guy is 50 years old. Lee Marvin was only 43 when he made POINT BLANK, and only 48 when he made PRIME CUT.

  54. Mr. Majestyk, well said, well said. I’ve always liked Keanu – he’s followed his heart and done fun things. He never seemed arrogant about the band he was in, Dogstar – just seemed like a fun thing he could do with his celeb, and did it. So now he’s got that going for him. Good for Keanum and I hope this movie works for him.

  55. The last trailer I watched that made me say “Take my money NOW” was the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer.

    I am so there, dudes!

    Also, does Reeves have a painting of himself in his attic that looks older every year or what?

  56. Saw this at Fantastic Fest in Austin last night and I can confidently say that this is the best non-Indonesian action movie I’ve seen in the last few years. The action is clearly shot with a lot of uninterrupted takes so you can actually see all the choreography, Keanu is given a lot of opportunities to use both his guns and his fists, and he also delivers more headshots than any hero I’ve ever seen. In fact Keanu’s typical move in this is to beat the shit out of someone before shooting them in the face, so much so that the directors in the Q&A afterward referred to this style as gun-fu. They also confirmed that they wanted to get as far away from the “Bourne” style of action as possible, and they definitely succeeded. Oh and Keanu and that Bernhardt guy have two long one-on-one fight scenes.

    It also has a Jack Reacher-esque lack of irony in portraying the character’s superhuman badassness completely straight, which actually results in a lot of well-deserved and intentional laughs after the pretty somber opening 20 mins. Overall the movie brought down the house last night and could be a big crowd pleaser if audiences give it a chance, but either way this is exactly the movie promised by the trailers.

  57. So the filmmaker said it has a bodycount of 84 which is impressively high.

  58. Kevin- That´s some crazy good news. Obviously such an awesome film will never get a theatrical release in Sweden so I will just have to wait for the dvd. Yet again…

  59. Shoot – I feel ya, the lack of movies opening in cinemas over here in the UK has been the bane of my existence this past year.

  60. I can put that down why America is exceptional :)

  61. And in this instance you wouldn´t be wrong.

  62. the second trailer looks promising as fuck! but my countries release date for this movie is 30 april! what!

  63. Shit, I was wrong. JOHN WICK actually hit the theatres in Sweden. On the October 31. A day to rejoice and perhaps conduct a few sacrifices in the honor of the celtic gods.

  64. Congrats, Shoot. Jan 2nd over in the UK. Not ideal, but not too bad.
    Here’s an action clip to give us more of an idea of what we’re in for:

  65. The Undefeated Gaul

    October 19th, 2014 at 2:31 am

    20 nov here… I can live with that.

  66. Twelve days left…

  67. BREAKING NEWS: This was awesome. Film at 11.

  68. This film was fucking dope. What I wasn’t expecting was such a rich cast of characters. It’s not just a “how badass is he” movie, it’s about this rabbit hole he goes down by dipping his toe (or was it his pinky) back into the underbelly. It’s a fully populated world with it’s own language, rules, etc. And some of the best gun-based action I’ve ever seen. Can’t praise it enough.

  69. The one thing about JOHN WICK that nagged at me (and I foolishly allowed it to impair my enjoyment of it all) was that his target was The Spoiled Adult Brat Son of The Crime Boss, something we’ve seen recently in EASTERN PROMISES and THE RAID 2, and previously in (it must be said) ROADHOUSE… and possibly other movies I know nothing of. It’s not quite a movie cliche, but it’s getting close.

    I *got* why Keanu’s character came back into the fold— he’s at bottom a man of principle, and there’s certain, specific shit he just can’t let slide. And his reentry into that world is done in such a matter of fact way; it’s almost like he’s punching a clock. In that sense he’s very far removed from Deckard in BLADE RUNNER or William Munny in UNFORGIVEN.

    In terms of backstory and dialogue, and the acting as well… it’s all very frugal, nearly Spartan in terms of its discipline and restraint. Keanu’s proficiency with weapons in this is a thing of precise beauty; it reminded me a little bit of Bale’s “Gun Kata” displays in EQUILIBRIUM.

    I liked it, but something tells me I need to see it again later on.

  70. Four days to go…

  71. Larry: There was no gangster’s son in ROAD HOUSE. Nobody’s son at all, as I remember it.

  72. Nobody’s son. Just a henchman.

    Trust me. I’ve seen ROAD HOUSE a lot. A LOT.

  73. The fat guy the polar bear fell on was a nephew, I think, but he wasn’t the impetus for Dalton to release his righteous fury.

  74. Maggie— “The fat guy” was the inestimable Tinker, Brad Wesley’s most loyal and also most stupid lackey (I’m somewhat sure those qualities were meant to go hand in hand). After my 3rd-4th viewing of ROADHOUSE, I wished his character would run off with Kelly Lynch at the very end, but no…. it’s an absurd movie but not that wonky.

    Mr. M— I stand corrected. Upon the first viewing, I assumed he was the son of Ben Gazzara’s character, and never looked back (I’ve seen it maybe 6-8 times, for unknown reasons). You’re right; good call.

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