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'Manhunt' TIFF 2017 Review: A soft-boiled return for action master John Woo

September 15, 2017Ben MK

A Chinese lawyer framed for murder (Zhang Hanyu) and a Japanese police inspector (Masaharu Fukuyama) face off — but find themselves embroiled in the schemes of an evil pharmaceutical company — in director John Woo's return to the genre he helped pioneer in the '80s and '90s.

Best known for movies like Hard Boiled and Face/Off, Woo brings his trademark flair to Manhunt. However, moviegoers hoping for anything near the caliber of those action classics had better temper their expectations, as the result ends up being far less than the sum of its parts. Make no mistake, Manhunt has got its share of doves and slow-motion, two-fisted shootouts. Yet, it's also hilariously misguided, with awkward exposition, clich├ęd plot points, and wooden dialogue that switches between Japanese, Mandarin and English with no rhyme or reason.

Granted, it's quite possible that Woo is indeed self-parodying himself, and that the movie's oftentimes comedic tone is completely intentional. All things considered, however, the chances of that being the case are slim. Suffice to say, Manhunt is less of a triumphant return and more like a shot to the heart for John Woo fans.

Manhunt is receiving its North American premiere as part of TIFF 2017's Special Presentations programme. Its runtime is 1 hr. 51 min.

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