Killer Bean 2: The Party sees the titular gun-totting coffee bean take down a noisy party and was a viral short in a pre-YouTube era.
Killer Bean 2: The Party is an action-packed CGI animated short that went viral years before YouTube even existed. John Woo was considered something of a director for hire during his early years as a filmmaker, and it wasn’t until his 1986 Hong Kong action film A Better Tomorrow became a surprise success that his career off. The movie made Chow Yun-fat an icon and it established Woo’s trademarks of heroic bloodshed, characters wielding two guns and lots and lots of slow motion.
After follow-ups like The Killer and Hard Boiled Woo made the switch to Hollywood for about a decade, where he directed movies like Face/Off. John Woo’s stylish action was also a huge influence on other action movies like The Replacement Killers or The Matrix, with the latter being a major breakthrough in bringing Asian inspired action scenes to American viewers. Woo was also a big inspiration on the Killer Bean movie, a short that featured a talking jelly bean escaping interrogation and slaying his captors with a gun in each hand.
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The short’s creator Jeff Lew made the movie to teach himself animation, and three years later he came out with Killer Bean 2: The Party. This saw the titular assassin – who is now a coffee bean – awoken by a noisy party held by gangsters. When they refuse to keep it down, it dons his guns and crashes the party. This short is far more elaborate than the original and even riffs on The Matrix’s bullet time effect in a few scenes. Killer Bean 2: The Party was a also a notable viral short long before the arrival of YouTube.
Killer Bean 2: The Party arrived on iFilm in 2000 and quickly became a viral short, receiving somewhere in the region of a million views. An updated, HD version dubbed Killer Bean 2.1 later arrived on YouTube itself in 2009 and has since gathered over six million views. Jeff Lew would spend four years making the feature-length third entry Killer Bean Forever, which featured much smoother computer animation and has itself earned over 20 million views.
Jeff Lew’s creation is now a full-blown cult franchise, with video game Killer Bean Unleashed arriving on Android and iOS in 2016, and there are even Killer Bean memes lurking around online. In September 2020 the first episode of a planned ten-episode web series arrived on YouTube too. The franchise has come a long way since Killer Bean 2: The Party, though nostalgia for that short certainly helped keep it alive.
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