manhunt trailer

John Woo made a career creating operatic, ultra-violent crime films peppered with shoot-outs, stand-offs, morally ambiguous characters, and lots and lots of slow-motion doves. Woo eventually made the leap from Hong Kong cinema to Hollywood and created one of the greatest action movies of all time, Face/Off. But Woo’s Hollywood adventure was never truly able to rise above the joys of that film, and the filmmaker returned to Hong Kong.

Woo’s latest film, the Chinese-Hong Kong production Manhunt, is being heralded (by people who are paid to promote the film) as a return to form, supposedly recalling his classics like A Better Tomorrow and The Killer. Well, don’t believe the hype.

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manhunt trailer

Action movie guru John Woo finally makes a return to the cop thriller genre with Manhunt, a remake of a classic 1976 Japanese action film. Sadly, his once-frequent collaborator Chow Yun-Fat won’t be joining him.

Starring acclaimed Chinese actor Zhang Hanyu as a prosecutor who is wrongfully framed for robbery, rape, and murder, the Manhunt trailer looks like a throwback to Woo’s classic stylistic flairs: over-the-top action! Endless ammo! Slow-mo! It’s great to see Woo back in his element.

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Face Off

“I am tired of myself tonight. I should like to be somebody else.” — Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

We are hardwired to see faces. Through the phenomenon of pareidolia, we’re able to glimpse a collection of shapes in a rock, or a cloud, or an oil spill, and imagine we can spot a face within. Our brains are always searching for something to identify; something to relate to. We judge emotions through the facial features of others – we see entire worlds of possibilities in the raising of an eyebrow, or the downturning of a mouth.

Our own faces remain out of sight, save for when we catch them reflected in a mirror, or in a selfie, or ghost-like and shadowy in the screens of cellphones and laptops. Yet even when we’re not looking at our own faces, we tend to have an image in our minds of how we look. It may be idealized or depreciated, but it’s there. Our faces reflect who we are – without them, we might lose our identity. What might happen then if we gazed into a mirror and discovered a completely different person staring back at us. Worse than that – what if it was the reflection of someone we despised. Someone who had caused us irreparable harm. The face of a mortal enemy.

That’s the premise of Face/Off, John Woo’s glorious and deranged action film from 1997. It was not the first Hollywood movie Woo would direct, but it would ultimately be the best, the only film during the filmmakers’ sojourn in America that truly captured his unmatched style.

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John Woo Still Wants to Remake ‘The Killer’

John Woo The Killer

John Woo has been wanting to remake his own classic The Killer for a while now, and he has not forgotten about those plans. The filmmaker says his next project is Manhunt, described as a hard-boiled actioner that recalls his earlier work, but after that, he’s finally getting around to that English-language The Killer remake. Read his comments after the jump.  Read More »

Manhunt Remake

In case you hadn’t heard, Face/Off and Red Cliff director John Woo is set to be at the helm of a remake of the 1976 Japanese thriller Manhunt. The news first surfaced back in March, though it somehow slipped through the cracks on our end. But thankfully, Woo was recently interviewed briefly about the remake, and the director talked about why he decided to take on the remake, and how it’s taking him back to his roots. More details on the Manhunt remake below! Read More »

John Woo The Crossing trailer

Cutting movies in half is very hip these days. Twilight, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and now…John Woo? Yes, the director of Hard Boiled, The Killer and Face/Off made a two-parter in 2008 with Red Cliff, and he’s doing it again this year with The Crossing. An epic romance set against the tragedy of a capsized ferry in 1949, it stars Zhang Ziyi and was written by Melody Wang, who wrote Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Now, that might sound like it’s John Woo’s Titanic, but it’s much bigger than that. The Crossing is a romance, a disaster film, a war film and more all rolled into one. It truly looks epic.

In China, The Crossing Part 1 opens in December and The Crossing Part 2 opens May 2015. There’s no U.S. release date yet. But, based on this trailer, I hope it gets one soon. Read More »

‘The Crossing’ Trailer: John Woo Gets Romantic

Crossing trailer

After years away from the big screen, John Woo is back this year — at least in China — with The Crossing. The first installment of the two-part film hits China in December. The movie is set in 1949 and will tell the stories of three couples whose lives intersect on the doomed Taiping steamer. The ship was carrying many hundreds of passengers from China and the last days of the communist-dominated Civil War, to new lives in Taiwan. All aboard were doomed, and the ship has been called the “Chinese Titanic” as a result. This first Crossing trailer introduces many of the people on board, albeit without subtitles. Check out the footage below. Read More »

john woo the crossing

John Woo has been quiet for several years as he dealt with throat cancer, and as government script approval was delayed for his latest film, but he’s ready to return to cinema screens with a new two-part epic. Much as his last major effort, Red Cliff, was a two-part tale drawn from Chinese history, so too The Crossing is a period piece split into two parts. (Between the two projects, Woo also co-directed Reign of Assassins.)

The Crossing is very different from Red Cliff in other respects, however. It is set in 1949, and follows the stories and fates of the passengers of the steamer Taiping, which sank with as many as 1500 passengers on board. (The ship is often called “the Chinese Titanic,” because of the number of casualties.) Now the first film is set for a December release in China, meaning we can perhaps expect to see it in 2015. Read More »

The Expendables 2 (header)

Sylvester Stallone played a little game with his Twitter followers Tuesday and the result was his disclosure of the director for The Expendables 3. That name? Patrick Hughes, best known for the small Australian film Red Hill, which starred True Blood‘s Ryan Kwatten. Check out Sly’s tweets below. Read More »

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

I learned of Jean-Pierre Melville‘s super-cool, ultra-controlled gangster movie Le Samouraï from John Woo. In my defense, it was the ’90s, I was young, and Woo’s highly stylized films A Better TomorrowThe Killer and Hard Boiled had me reading every possible interview with the director. It was probably in the pages of Asian Trash Cinema where I first found Woo extolling the virtues and influence of Melville’s film.

Years later, the director began to talk actively of remaking Melville’s movie, and that project is still in play to some extent. In a new reeport, Woo says that the script is being worked on now, and that German financing will be one big reason to transplant the action from Paris to Berlin. Read More »