Broken Arrow. Face/Off. And the bluntly titled Bullet in the Head. When you think of John Woo, you think of firefights and blood. Lots and lots of firefights and blood. You may also think of explosions coming from the most unlikely of sources, like a piece of fruit.

Now, instead of watching all that blood splatter, you can cause it, as John Woo brings his over-the-top take to iOS in Bloodstroke [$0.99].

You play as Lotus, a blood-red jacketed agent who works for the Phalanx corporation. Your job is to escort a doctor through treacherous levels, filled with devious enemies that splatter very nicely. Your goal is to get to the large black X at the end of the map.


Graphically, Bloodstroke does a great job with its black and white design. The game looks very good using it, and serves as contrast to Lotus’ jacket and, of course, the multitude of blood you’ll spill. Story cutscenes are served via comic panels, which fit in great with the game’s theme. Sound and music are both very well done. The soundtrack is provided by Far East Movement, and adds a feeling of modern music to the traditional Chinese music used. Each weapon makes its own noise, and they sound authentic. And you can’t deny the satisfying swish your blade makes as you cut through someone.

At its core, Bloodstroke is an isometric on-rails shooter with levels that have a three-star rating system. The game will constantly move you throughout each mission. It’s not strictly on rails, though, as you control Lotus as the camera pans. This is essential, as you earn more points by running into enemies, resulting in a melee kill, as opposed to shooting them. As Lotus, you are essentially invincible, and cannot be hurt. That’s because your protectee, the good Dr. Koorse, is very vulnerable. Enemies will target and attempt to kill him. If he dies, you fail.


Controlling Lotus is pretty straightforward. You run using a virtual stick, while the opposite side of the screen is used for shooting, grenades and health packs. Lotus will always be running, even when you aren’t using stick, because of the on-rails aspect.

Enemies will attack from all sides, giving you some strategic options. Do you stay by the doctor’s side and fire at enemies, hoping to kill them before they kill the doctor? Do you run ahead to kill everyone and clear a path, hoping enemies don’t come up from behind or to the side of Koorse while you’re up front? While overall the game is pretty limited and linear, it does allow you to determine how you want to go about your particular mission.


Aside from the standard escort, you’ll also have traditional wave missions, where the doctor stands in one location and enemies come at him from every side. As is typical with that format, subsequent waves will become stronger than the ones before them. You’ll also battle waves of enemies in the arena levels, which are spread throughout and help you earn some extra cash.

Cash, as always, is king. With it, you can buy special items to help you, such as grenades. There’s also a fairly hefty upgrade system, which allow you to not only buy new weapons, but upgrade them in categories such as speed and damage. You begin with a handgun and two daggers, but you can buy a few different projectile weapons, and a few different melee weapons. If you choose not to buy them, no worries, as they will eventually unlock through normal play. You’re also able to improve the health, armor and health regeneration of Dr. Koorse, because let’s face it, he’s pretty useless. In-game cash can always be purchased for real cash, the cheapest pack being $2.99, and you attempt to earn 86 achievements.

Bloodstroke is a terrific action game, and a great introduction to John Woo action on mobile. There is no multiplayer (perhaps too hard to implement considering the game mechanics), no leaderboards, a pretty typical story, and the levels are fairly short, but the inclusion of a large number of achievements, and a three-star system should keep you going. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch Hard Boiled.

TouchArcade Rating

  • m0ncrieff

    Totally agree. After playing the game decided to watch hard boiled again.

    • zergslayer69

      Oh yea? Go get yourself a copy of Stranglehold. Why watch a movie when you can play it!

  • Chris Brady


    And Stranglehold was a good, fun game.

    • bigrand1

      ...and Stranglehold was a kick-ass tune back in the day!

  • xzeldax3

    You guys should review Banshee's Last Cry!

  • Adsinjapan

    Not sold on this. If the video is anything to go by, there's only one real mission to this. Take this guy, over their, don't let him die. Hardly varying.
    The game the character models look bland and there's no real draw to the lead character.
    Could they not have animated the blood a little better? Instead it simply spurts out in wing patterns.
    I liked John Woo... When I was 15 and I liked nonsensical plotlines and excessive action. He hasn't changed much. Maybe this game fits in well with iOS as a no brainer, but I'll stick with games that have a little more substance.

    • Chris Brady

      You want SUBSTANCE on an iOS release? Seriously? But you probably don't want to pay what it would be worth, would you?

      • Adsinjapan

        Don't make assumptions. I said this game isn't for me, maybe it's fine for others. And yes, what's wrong with asking for substance? I got that in Republique, Papa Sangre, The Room, Scorcery, the Infinity Blade franchise. It's hardly much to ask for these days.
        I'd pay for anything that was of value.

  • slyiron

    Should of put a male not a female sales are defo gonna go down because of this !!!!!! And I really wanted to get this game not anymore ain't playing as a female!!!!

    • Me

      They'll miss out on the entire sexist asshole demographic.

Bloodstroke Reviewed by James Paterson on . Rating: 4