Manhunt (John Woo, 2017)

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After a decade in which all he put out were two two-part epics, one of which is great (Red Cliff) the other of which is half-great (The Crossing), it’s nice to see John Woo relax back into the kind of goofy genre fare that has always been his comfort zone. The plot is too complicated by half, with Zhang Hanyu framed by a pharmaceutical research company for murder because he wants to quit being their lawyer, or something, with a dogged cop played by Masaharu Fukuyama on his trail along with a variety of assassins. But the two leads are solid (Zhang you recall from Tsui Hark’s The Taking of Tiger Mountain and Dante Lam’s Operation Red Sea, and Fukuyama from the Koreeda Hirokazu movies Like Father, Like Son and The Third Murder (coming soon to SIFF)) and they’re surrounded by all kinds of women: an earnest heartbroken potential love interest and a callow go-getter on the good side, and assassins of both the cold-blooded and heart of gold variety on the less good side (and wow is it both weird and a lot of fun to see John’s daughter Angeles Woo flying around as the more ruthless killer. She had a small part in The Crossing, but she almost steals the movie here). There’s even a small part for Yasuaki Kurata, enjoying a bit of a renaissance lately with key roles as well in Gordon Chan’s God of War and Chapman To’s The Empty Hands (also coming soon to SIFF). The action is exciting, with some truly exceptional moments, the rest of it is tolerable. In the battle of great 80s Hong Kong auteurs taking on corruption in the 21st Century medical-industrial complex, Woo is an easy winner over Ringo Lam.

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