With a career spanning more than four decades and still going strong, the man who pioneered what fans call “gun-fu” cinema returns with cop thriller Manhunt, which opens in Malaysian cinemas this week.
John Woo was recently in town to promote the multi-national Asian film with Korean actress Ha Ji Won, who plays a butt-kicking killer alongside stars Zhang Hanyu (The Great Wall, Operation Mekong, Bodyguards and Assassins) and Masaharu Fukuyama (The Third Murder, Like Father, Like Son, Ryomaden).
Shot in Osaka, Japan, the film about a lawyer wrongly accused of murder is based on a novel by Juko Nishimura. Incidentally, Woo is a huge fan of the late actor, Ken Takakura, who starred in the 1976 Japanese adaptation of the novel.
The director acknowledges that his latest film indirectly pays tribute to Takakura and Japanese gang films of the 1960s, which he loves. Reflecting on the action genre that he has been so influential in - with game-changing films like A Better Tomorrow (which launched Chow Yun-Fat into super-stardom), The Killer; and later-on his Hollywood fare such as Face/Off and Mission: Impossible 2, Woo is candid he prefers to do things old-school.
“I think films these days lack a bit of ‘heart’. Current technology should only serve to enhance the film… in the end it should be the creativity of the mind and heartfelt sincerity that makes a good film,” he says.
For more of his film-making insights and his career, look out for our cover story in an upcoming issue. 'Manhunt' opened on Nov 23 in cinemas nationwide.