MovieBob Reviews: ‘Shadow’MovieBob Reviews: ‘The Curse of La Llorona’ Stay on target Is Manhunt good?It’s decent.What’s it about?A Chinese-produced remake of a well-regarded Japanese film of the same name from 1976 starring Ken Takakura, both loosely adapted from a novel by Juko Nishimura. Zhang Hanyu stars as a Chinese lawyer whose assignment to a powerful pharmaceutical company in Japan is coming to an end with his firm has decided to move him to a new client in the United States. Unfortunately, he doesn’t even get to pack his bags before waking up in his hotel not being able to remember how he back to his hotel… or why there’s a dead girl in his bed or how his fingerprints got on the murder weapon.So it’s a noir-thriller sort of thing?Yes, but with John Woo directing, so it’s also more of an action/chase/gunfight king of an affair for the most part. The protagonist is on the run in Japan trying to figure out who framed him and why, pursued and/or aided at various points by a cross-section of other colorful characters all including a gruff older police detective with an agenda of his own. There’s a younger and icier detective who doesn’t play by the rules with a spunky by-the-book young female partner to break in, a mysterious half-Chinese woman stalking the case for unknown reasons, a community of homeless people being abducted for mysterious purposes. There’s also a pair of sister assassins played by South Korean star Ha Ji-won and the director’s own daughter Angeles Woo.Wow! A new John Woo movie!? Where’d that guy go??I mean… he never really “left.” He transitioned more to producing for a while and mostly stopped making movies with lots of gunfights because American producers didn’t really know what to do with him after Face/Off. He’s worked for most the last decade back between China and Hong Kong focusing on historical dramas like Red Cliff and The Crossing (aka “China’s Titanic”) and wuxia fantasy flicks. He supposedly took up Manhunt as a tribute film to original star Takakura, who he was a fan of, and to get back to his low-budget action roots for a project.So does he still have it?To an extent, yeah. Everybody chases everybody else around urban and, eventually, rural Japan. A lot of guns get fired, a lot of cars, motorcycles, and jet-skis get crashed, a lot of blood gets spilled, lots of motion gets slooooooowed way the hell down, and Woo probably gets the last laugh on parodies of his own signature. You know, the white doves gag amid a twist-filled, flashback-laden conspiracy plot that doesn’t really make a tremendous degree of sense (but were you asking it to?) It definitely has the familiar manic energy and sincere commitment to the weirdness of his original Hong Kong output… but it’s not quite the return to the glory days some might have been hoping for.Care to elaborate?It’s fun, moves like it’s late for work and it’s definitely a treat to see how committed Woo remains to his original bag of tricks. Not just the slow-motion and doves everyone’s goofed on over the years but the melodramatic cross-dissolves, awkward still-frames, and lounge-bar jazz. But in what turns out to be a weird downside, what constitutes “low budget” has changed a lot since Woo created this template in late-80s Hong Kong. It’s pairing these old-school analog techniques with slicked-up 21st Century digital shooting, and the general “reality” of present-day guns, cars and other tools of the trade leads to an occasional “off” feeling atmosphere. Everything is almost a little TOO clean, the movement a little TOO smooth, the locations a little TOO unblemished by all the death and destruction surrounding them – to the point where apart from everyone being Chinese, Japanese or Korean you might think you were watching an especially well-directed episode of NCIS.Any significant upsides?Oh, for sure! There’s a BIG centerpiece blowout involving the siege of a rural farmhouse filled with all of what is by that point the good guys by all of the bad guys that seriously cooks regarding “what the hell are they going to think to do next?” The high-point of the movie even if it comes more or less toward the end of Act 2. The finale (while not as much pure fun on the action front) is also completely bonkers if for no other reason than the plot suddenly gets yanked off into such an extreme turn to an almost pseudo-sci-fi territory for Act 3 I almost thought Netflix might have started up a whole other movie by accident.How is the cast?Solid, though the decision to shoot the film in alternating Mandarin, Japanese and English (the Japanese and Chinese characters appear to switch to English when speaking to one another) is clearly putting a strain on those who don’t speak one or more of the languages fluently in some of the dramatic scenes. Hanyu is a compelling “regular guy” lead, Masaharu Fukuyama (best known as a musician in Japan) shows serious action-hero chops as the main cop, and Ha Ji-won and Angeles Woo (John Woo’s daughter, who hasn’t significantly acted before) are standouts as a pair of assassin sisters. Angeles is a surprising presence, with a different look and attitude than is typical for this kind of role – hope she does more work after this.So you’d recommend it?Yeah, overall. It’s a minor thing even in Woo’s admittedly all-over-the-map canon, but it’s a fun watch, and if you’ve already got Netflix (where it exclusively debuted in the U.S. recently) it’s not like it’ll cost you anything extra to watch it. Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.
"MovieBob Reviews MANHUNT 2018"