Posted: August 24, 2018 in Movies


Movie going audiences must be a tough crowd today. Take a look at John Woo’s action movie comeback Manhunt. Pre-release I saw reactions that went from luke warm to outright calling the film a dissapointment. I saw the movie recently and had a blast. Manhunt is not on the same level as the directors best but if it’s a solid action movie you’re looking for, one which wears its heart on its sleeve and can laugh at itself then look no further cause this flick delivers. John Woo is best known for his action classics The Killer, Hard Boiled and A Better Tomorrow. Western audiences will no doubt know Woo for his big Hollywood movies with Face/Off, Hard Target, Mission: Impossible 2 and Broken Arrow to name a few.

Manhunt, which is like a spiritual sequel in some ways to Face/Off, focuses on Du Qiu (Hanyu Zhang) who is a laywer working for a huge pharmaceutical company. This company is working on some seriously dangerous drugs and their testing procedures are super unethical. Du Qui, who isn’t exactly in on all the shady stuff, wants to move on from the company but they are having none of it. He could know too many secrets they don’t want exposed. Things get bad Du Qui quickly and he ends up on the wrong side of the law, on the run and on a quest to clear his name. All the while evading (mostly) crooked cops and deadly company assassins! The plot is a riot and come the last act goes into full on science fiction territory but overall it works well and it is never, ever boring.

I ain’t no John Woo expert. Just to clear that up but I have seen a lot of his work – mostly all of his ace action movies (Eastern and Western) and Manhunt defo earns a respectable place in the directors filmography. The action scenes, how they’re shot and staged are pure Woo. You get your gunplay, hand to hand combat, slow-mo, air dives and of course the doves. The doves are back in Manhunt and are put to clever use in one showdown in particular. Another highlight of the film is that almost everyone fights in this movie. Characters you would expect to shy away from violence get stuck right in and deal just as much damage as those who would dare go up against them. There’s some serious female representation in Manhunt and I loved that. It shows Woo is all for equal representation on the action front and the ladies are just as deadly as the guys.

Some fans have taken issue with Manhunt having a slightly self aware vibe in some scenes but honestly I found those exchanges not only charming and funny but somthing Woo has, at this stage in career, more than earned. Woo has nothing to prove when it comes to action movies. He’s given audiences some of the absolute best of the best. If he wants to take a step back and make a laugh of how crazy it all can be then what’s the big deal? It lends the film and its characters serious charm. If I’m nitpciking there’s a bit of green screen that is put to use during one chase sequence (at least it looked like that to me) that stands out but like if that’s the biggest complaint I have about the film then who the hell cares?

Director and cast all seemed to be game to deliver not just a decent action fest – and this film is action packed – but a film that celebrates Woo’s legacy and the genre in a good way. In a way Manhunt is similar to the slasher love letter The Final Girls. It knows exactly what it is, what its audience expects and is more than happy to deliver. Manhunt is no The Killer or Hard Boiled but it’s nowhere near the let down some reactions would lead you to believe. Had this come out in the late 90’s you can bet Hollywood would have been working on a adaptation of this right now, probably moulding it into some sort of Face/Off sequel.


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