“The return of the maestro” indeed.
John Woo was a working filmmaker in the 1970’s, but for most of us he burst onto the action movie scene a decade later with the likes of A Better Tomorrow and The Killer. He quickly went on to cement his status in the genre with Bullet In the Head and Hard Boiled before accepting an inevitable invite from Hollywood, and while some directors crumble beneath the pressure of an American debut Woo delivered once again with three winners in a row — Hard Target, Broken Arrow, and his English-language masterpiece, Face/Off.
That’s right Vice, I said masterpiece.
Woo followed that up with his biggest hit, Mission: Impossible II, before sliding into something of a decline with Windtalkers and Paycheck and eventually heading back to China. His films back home have been a mixed bag as he spent thirteen years on two historical action epics — Red Cliff and The Crossing — each split into two films and neither managing to wow international audiences.
That may be about to change though with the release of his latest film, Manhunt. Woo’s brought his explosive, slow-motion sensibilities back into the present for the first time in seventeen years, and judging by this new trailer he might be getting another call from Hollywood in the near future.
Check out the trailer for Manhunt below.
“The return of the maestro” is a promising bit of hyperbole, but it’s a label well-earned by his past films so I’m more than willing to give his new one a chance. All of his trademarks are present from doves to double-fisted gun play, and the action beats look plenty exciting.
The story follows a prosecutor who’s framed for crimes he didn’t commit and forced on the run to clear his name. It’s a simple enough premise and one that opens the door for all manner of action beats, big and small, as an innocent man with a back to his wall is a classic and highly promising character type that we’ve seen and loved in films as diverse as The Running Man and The Shawshank Redemption.
Manhunt premieres at TIFF next month and hopefully hits the rest of our eyeballs shortly thereafter.