Monday, June 11, 2018

Manhunt - John Woo Returns to His Earlier Movie Style

Yesterday night, when I returned back home from accompanying my wife trying out new restaurant & coffee shop, I was looking for movies that I could watch on TV. Then I noticed in Celestial Movie channel, there was a new movie premiering at 9 PM which was directed by John Woo. The brief synopsis promised to be having lots of actions and I was also a fan of John Woo's movies as well. So I decided to give this a try. OK let us move on with the movie.

Brief Story Line

A Chinese lawyer named Du Qiu (Zhang Hanyu - The Taking of Tiger Mountain, Operation Mekong etc) was working for a Japanese pharmaceutical company named Tenjin, led by Sakai (Jun Kunimura - Lady Joker, live version of Fullmetal Alchemist etc) and was very successful in winning various legal cases for them. One night during a major party held by Tenjin, Du Qiu met with a mysterious Chinese/Japense woman named Mayumi (singer Stephy Qi) and after the party, he woke up with an unknown female deceased body on his bed. Feeling innocent & framed, Du Qiu decided to flee the police chase and tried to clear his name. 

Meanwhile a brilliant police detective named Yamura (Masaharu Fukuyama - The Third Murder, Scoop! etc) with his new partner Rika (Nanami Sakuraba - Atack on Titan etc) were trying to capture Du Qiu. During his investigation, Yamura felt there was a lot of peculiarities in the case, but he was still adamant to capture Du Qiu. Things became more complicated when a couple of female assassins called Rain (Ha Ji-won - Sex is Zero, Secret Garden TV series etc) and Dawn (Angeles Woo - The Crossing 1 & 2 etc) came into the picture and attempted to kill Du Qiu.

So why was Du Qiu framed? And could he escape from the police & assassins at the same time? Find them all in this full action movie.

End of Brief Story Line

Well this movie was exactly what I expected in term of full action sequence. Just like the usual John Woo movies which were having lots of chaotic fight scenes, gun shooting from close range and the brutal violent fights, this one was also filled with those. The story itself was supposed to be a thriller with a touch of mystery which was pretty decently told from the angle of Yamura & Rika's investigations. In fact, I think the way the investigation was shown, it was pretty good and intriguing, but the rest of the story somehow felt a bit messy. 

The movie was adapted from Japanese novel Kimi yo Fundo no Kawa o Watare written by Juko Nishimura. And it was the second adaptation, making this movie a remake of the 1976 Japanese version. Being a Chinese/Hong Kong joint production, naturally the movie would have Chinese actors and even have a South Korean star of Ha Ji-won. Although I personally think her (& her partner's) character were rather needless and added to unnecessary complexity to the movie. What I did not like about the movie was the language spoken. I am not sure whether it was originally in Chinese/Japanese/English, but there seemed to be some parts when the English language was used, and they sounded like a poor quality dubbing rather than originally spoken by the characters (the voices did not seem to match the mouth movement). Oh, there was also one interesting character played by the action movie veteran Yasuaki Kurata (who was quite well known in the 80s & 90s Hong Kong movies).

Honestly, I am a big fan of John Woo's movies. During my early years of watching movies, I was truly amazed by his films, particularly the 1986 hit A Better Tomorrow (one of the best Hong Kong action movie of all time to my opinion) starring Chow Yun Fat, Ti Lung & Leslie Cheung. His other movies that I also loved was The KillerOnce A Thief and who could not forget the Hollywood movies like Face/Off and Mission: Impossible 2. But funnily enough, when I saw this movie last night, I was not able to truly enjoy it. The action (though said to be return to John Woo's older style) did not feel as good as his earlier works. So either I over exaggerated my admiration to Woo's earlier action sequence styles or my preference to a movie's action style has changed. I think this kind of style fit better when it was used in those days. 

Overall, I felt that the movie was not bad and some of the action scenes were pretty good. It may even give nostalgic feeling to fans of John Woo's earlier works. But some of the story line and the unnecessary characters, plus occasional bad dubbing made me not able to enjoy the movie entirely. If you are hungry for such action style movies, then this probably could satisfy you. But I personally felt A Better Tomorrow was a lot better. The choice is yours.

Mike's movie moments rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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